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Johns Creek girl undergoes radical surgery to rebuild leg

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -

At 11, Bailey Moody is already a bit of a comeback kid. Last summer, facing bone cancer, the Johns Creek sixth-grader made a pretty radical decision. She chose a rare amputation surgery because it was her one chance of playing the sports she loves.

"I just knew that this is what I wanted, I wanted to play sports, I wanted to be able to keep up with my friends," Moody said.

But keeping up got much harder in the spring of 2012, when Bailey's right leg began throbbing.
   
"So, we took her in, had it checked out, they did an x-ray.  That was on a Sunday, I got a rather frantic call from our pediatrician Monday morning, and she's normally calm, steady.  And she said, 'I think Bailey has a bone tumor,'" said Tiffany Moody, Bailey's mother.

Bailey, then a fourth-grader, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer in her lower right thigh, and knee.

"I realized this is a big deal and I might not be able to save my leg," Bailey said.

Tiffany Moody said, "The thing with bone cancer is you have to get the tumor out.  You can't just do chemo, or radiation and get rid of it that way. The tumor has to be removed."

"So I prayed about it and then I heard the options, and they were really hard options," said Bailey.

Bailey's right leg would have to be amputated above-the-knee. But she didn't want a metal joint replacement or a prosthetic knee. She wanted a rare surgery that would radically re-design her leg, turning her foot and ankle into her new knee.

"And the first time we saw it we both said, ‘We are not doing that to our child.'  And that's most parents, that's their reaction. Because it just looks so shocking," said Tiffany Moody.

But not to Bailey.

"When I first heard about it, I knew exactly that that's I wanted to do," she said.

The surgery, called a rotationsplasty, was her one chance at staying active.

In June of 2012, surgeons at the University of Florida's Shands Medical Center removed Bailey's leg from the top of her thigh to her calf, then rotated her calf and ankle and foot 180 degrees, reattaching it backwards to create a new knee joint that slips into a prosthesis, and can bend and flex as she moves.

"People usually think it's really cool," Bailey Moody said.
     
Bailey recently met three other girls who've all had the same surgery, recording a YouTube video for "The Truth 365," a campaign to highlight the toll of childhood cancer. She knows not everyone would choose this, but for her, it just works.
   
"I think that God's been a big part in that, and that He's told me, 'This is my plan for you.  This is how I want you to be.'  And I've accepted that, and I'm happy with my leg," Bailey said.

Bailey is undergoing physical therapy at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to build strength in her leg muscles. She undergoes bone scans every three months, but so far, her doctors have found no evidence of her cancer.

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