Can you Beat Bailey?
Most of the time Bailey looks like a typical sixteen-year-old. She wears a constant smile that radiates the joy of a happy, contented girl pushing through the 10th grade with the world ahead of her. What you wouldn’t see are the scars from what is behind her. Unless she takes off her leg, that is.
While it sounds like a dramatic effect, Bailey often uses her prosthetic leg as a prop to make people laugh.
“One time I walked up to my teacher and asked her to help me tie my shoe. When she started, I acted like it hurt and told her she was tying it too tight,” laughed Bailey. “She pulled her hands away and started to apologize. But she thought it was pretty funny once she figured out it was my fake leg.”
Consider Bailey’s text from a recent flight:
It hasn’t always been that way. In 2012, 10-year-old Bailey was playing softball, tennis, and basketball. So when she complained of knee pain, her parents chalked it up to a sports injury because she was so active. But as the pain persisted, they took her to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that starts at the end of a growth bone. She began chemotherapy to shrink the tumor immediately. As she progressed through that, she and her family had a decision to make regarding phase two of her treatment: surgery.
The first option was limb salvage, where bones would be replaced and reinforced with metal. This would leave her unable to run.
The second choice was amputation above the knee.
The third option and the one they would ultimately choose was rotationplasty – a unique surgery where the knee is removed and the ankle is rotated and reattached to the thigh to serve as a knee. Once fitted with a prosthetic, this new “knee” would offer the widest range of motion. In her light-hearted way, Bailey calls it her kenankle.
“I really didn’t have to think about it,” Bailey recalls. “Rotationplasty was the only way I could run and play sports again. So that’s what we did.”
And she’s done her share of running since then. But these days, she rolls a lot, too. Bailey began playing wheelchair basketball as a way to keep her competitive fire burning. As it turns out, she’s pretty good. So good that she went to the U.S. development camp in Colorado Springs last year where the coach noticed her skills and suggested that she apply to participate in the U.S. Women’s section camp. After a few grueling sessions, she was selected to be part of the USA National Team that will compete in the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Hamburg, Germany this August.
Bailey is the second-youngest player on the team.
“This is pretty overwhelming,” Bailey said. “It’s been incredible, but I’m still processing all of this.”
Right now, life is somewhat overwhelming for the sophomore at Providence Christian Academy. She keeps a full schedule between school, basketball, theatre, church, and training. She likes to speak too. Bailey is as comfortable in front of a microphone as she is on the court and she tells her cancer story as often as possible to try to make an impact.
“I just want people to know that childhood cancer isn’t rare,” Bailey explained. “Every school has someone who is either going through treatment, has survived it, or didn’t make it there. We need to step up and do better for kids.”
Bailey has overcome many challenges to get where she is, and she is thriving. You would never know it to talk to this mild-mannered young lady, but she is also incredibly competitive. Today she has a challenge for you:
“I’m going to win CURE Madness… Think you can beat me?”
Can you beat Bailey? CURE Madness is an office pool that benefits kids. Your $25 entry fee gives you the chance to win $250. With this pool, kids always win because the entry fees go toward childhood cancer research to discover better cures for kids like Bailey. You’re going to play anyway… Why not make it matter?