PELION, S.C. (WIS) - Pelion Auxiliary Post 9037 is asking the community for support to try and help one of its members who’s suffering from a rare lung disease.
Tammy Sanders, 48, and her husband have served South Carolina veterans and their families for the last decade. She grew up in a military family. Her dad served in Vietnam.
When she was 19 years old, she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease that mostly affects young women, called LAM or lymphangioleiomyomatosis. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is around 30 years. She said doctors have told her she has less than a year to receive a transplant if she's going to survive.
"They said it’s like a 30-year growing cancer. Most women only survive 30 years. So, from 19 to 48, this is my last year," said Sanders.
It cost $5,000 to get on the transplant list. Patients are required to raise this money before the surgery to ensure they can financially cover the treatment costs after the surgery. However, Sanders and her husband are dealing with financial issues and can't afford it.
When VFW members learned Sanders couldn't get on the list due to the financial stress, they joined together to start raising money. They've scattered donation cans at restaurants and businesses throughout the Pelion community to help raise money. They said Sanders has given so much to veterans and their families over the years and they want to make sure she gets the help she needs.
"We support each other and we've seen that time and time again and again. Tammy is one of our family members here and people supporting her support the small community and support everything that she stands for -- love of country, love of God. She's just a great person all around," said VP of the Pelion Auxiliary Post 9037, Jerri Williams.
Sanders said a few weeks ago she worried she would never get a transplant, but that's all changed since her fellow VFW members have rallied behind her.
"It makes me feel really good. It does because, honestly, I was actually losing hope, but they actually have brought me a good bit of hope that might meet my goal," said Sanders. "Every little bit counts. Even one dollar could save someone’s life."
The post has raised $1,000 so far and members are hoping to raise the additional $4,000 as soon as possible. Once Sanders gets on the list, she could have to wait up to a year for that lung transplant.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those who would like to help out. You can also send a check to Pelion Memorial VFW Auxiliary Post 9037, and in the memo write Tammy Sanders. The Post’s address is 342L Sanders Lane, Leesville, SC 29070.