Justin Cole is a 15 year old from Elsie, Michigan battling B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. While playing 6th grade football in the fall of 2016, he became unusually weak, dizzy, and pale. He was taken to the emergency room, and the following day, on September 11, 2016 was diagnosed at the age of 12.
In the coming days, a chemo port would be placed and doctors would decide their treatment plan. In the coming weeks and months, chemotherapy drugs would fight Justin’s leukemia, and eventually, following the doctors’ plan, put him into remission. However, B-ALL isn’t easy or quick to beat. It’s a long journey that takes almost four years to complete treatment. Getting Justin to remission took less than the first year. Keeping him in remission was chemotherapy’s goal for the rest of the four year treatment plan.
Justin wasn’t able to attend school for 6th grade because of the risk of germs. Public outings, school days and sporting events, and even friends and family gatherings had to be sacrificed to keep the germs and infection away.
Overall, treatments went well and Justin was able to return to school in the fall of 2017 for 7th grade. He couldn’t play football, but he was on the sidelines, assisting his team’s coach and enjoying his team’s comradery.
Fast forward another year to the fall of 2018 and Justin got clearance to play football! Put in place was extra padding as a precautionary to protect his chemo port, and some emotionally vested lineman to protect their quarterback.
In November of 2019, as the final countdown to being cancer free was finally under the last one hundred days away, Justin experienced back pain that escalated quickly and again was rushed to the emergency room. On November 9, 2019, at the age of 15, it was confirmed that his leukemia had relapsed.