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Serving Justice: 15-year-old's battle with leukemia inspires in Care-a-thon on WSB
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Make the call: 1-888-750-2772, July 31, 5 a.m. to Aug. 1, 6 p.m.

One Conyers teenager is optimistic – but honest – about her struggle with cancer.

Justice Root, 15, was busy spending time with family and friends and pursuing her modeling career before she was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I’m still a sociable person,” Justice said. “I’m still growing up as normal. Every day is different. … Some days are good. Some days are bad.”

Justice and her family will join others to tell their stories for the 14th annual News 95.5 AM/750 WSB Care-a-Thon, a live broadcast community charity event to benefit Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The program starts 5 a.m. July 31 and continues until 6 p.m. Aug. 1 and will include inspirational stories from patients, families and staff from the Aflac Cancer Center, where Justice receives treatment.

Volunteers at a call-in center will accept donations by phone, or listeners can donate online.

Proceeds will help fund family support services, research and fellowship programs at the center.

The pediatric center is one of the largest in the U.S. and cares for more than 400 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year, according to its website.

WSB’s Neal Boortz, Herman Cain, Erick Erickson, Clark Howard, and Scott Slade will host the Care-a-Thon, which has raised more than $12.5 million since it began, according WSB’s website.

Justice’s parents, Charles and Piper, said they were excited for their daughter to participate.

“Justice has been able to have awesome experiences she wouldn’t have had without (the center),” Piper said.

Justice was diagnosed with leukemia, which is cancer of the blood cells and can cause infections, bleeding, anemia and other symptoms.

Justice has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type among children, which can spread rapidly through the body if not treated early and cause blood cell counts to fluctuate.

Justice’s blood count was 3-4; the normal count is 14-16.

Piper took Justice to the doctor, and after blood tests, they were sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston to see a pediatric hematologist November 27.

“There were no real signs of illness,” Charles said. “She was really lethargic and slumping around last summer, but I just thought she had too much on her plate.”

Justice previously participated in theater, Piper added, and was always involved in activities or with friends.

She said Justice loves music and enjoys fashion, writing and most of all – food.

“You can’t tell by her size, but she loves food,” Piper said. “When she lost her appetite, I knew something was wrong.”

She celebrated her 15th birthday in September and shortly after, she found out she had cancer.

“I never had a cold,” Justice said. “I had never been in the hospital. … No one expects to hear that.”

Piper said the family, including Justice’s brother, Chris, 17, and sister, Aubree, 11, learned about her condition; they found out she needs chemotherapy for the next two and half years, Piper explained.

She has received treatment every other day for six weeks and had a rare reaction to the chemotherapy, and had mouth sores and hair loss, Piper said.

Justice feels constant pain and uses a wheelchair because of nerve damage, Piper said.

“She goes through physical therapy, and when’s she’s up to it, we’ll go to (the gym) and do similar exercises,” Piper said.

Justice she said she “freaked out” when she had to change her eating habits for the treatment process.

“I said, ‘I can take cancer, I can take the (chemotherapy) port, but I can’t deal with food being taken away,’” Justice said with a laugh. “I was so glad when my doctors found a way for me to eat. I love them. … Everyone at the hospital is so amazing.”

Justice said she has had bouts of depression and sees a therapist, but she continues to take one day at a time.

She credits her family, friends, and the doctors and staff at the medical center for supporting her efforts to overcome cancer.

“There will be some day when I look back and say, ‘I did that,’” Justice said before a chemotherapy session. “That part’s coming. I can’t wait for it.”

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