BECKLEY - Leslee Pannell is one of 4,000. The young, 28-year-old mother is battling the rare Devic's Disease, a more serious sister disease of Multiple Sclerosis that attacks only the spinal cord.
"I got scared, and I got worried about what's going to happen and what's involved, and it's been a really hard journey so far," she told WOAY.
Leslee is four weeks into chemotherapy and HSTC stem cell transplants at a Chicago hospital. She's on a mission to spread the word about treatment options.
"It's remission," she said. "It's an option. You don't have to take a million drugs. You don't have to listen when a doctor tells you that you're at a dead end."
Leslee was diagnosed at the end of last year. Five to 15 years to live? No way. A 4-year-old daughter and thousands of supporters have her back.
"The community rallied," she told Newswatch. "I felt like it wasn't just me fighting the battle anymore. I had this whole troop of people that just gave all their time and generosity just for me."
Her medical expenses include $30,000 injections. With about another month to go, she has a message for her supporters.
"Thank you for saving my life and for giving my daughter back her mom," she said through tears. "Every dollar, every prayer, every message -- they keep me going, and they keep me positive."
To help Leslee or follow her progress, visit www.facebook.com/wearorangeforleslee or www.wearorangeforleslee.com.