CENTERVILLE -- Liz Jones is in a battle for her life. She hopes people will help her in the few remaining days of June.
Jones suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrigs disease, and doesnt hide the fact her prognosis is not good.
Like the estimated 30,000 others who suffer from the disease in the U.S., she knows a patients life expectancy averages only two to five years from the date of diagnosis.
Jones was diagnosed in 2010.
But in these last four days of June, Jones said helping her and others suffering from ALS is as simple as going to a CVS Pharmacy, walking up to the counter and donating $1 toward research.
Jones said shes already done the math. With about 140,000 people in Houston County alone, the funds raised would be significant. Add Peach and Bibb counties and the figure multiplies.
She said if people tell others they know across the country to do the same, the amount goes exponential.
Im just very grateful to CVS for taking on a not-so-well-known cause, Jones said by typing into her voice-equipped iPad. ALS has taken the use of her own voice from her.
The problem with a rare disease like ALS is it doesnt get the spotlight other diseases do, she said. You dont have enough people to get the needed support and funding for research. I wish other companies were willing to take on less popular diseases like CVS. Its needed.
ALS affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain that control voluntary muscle movement.
Jones has taken up the cause despite the fact her efforts wont be of much help to her. Instead, she said shes doing it for those the disease will claim in the future. Not just fighting her personal battle, Jones has helped fundraising efforts at Macons Howard Middle School where she once taught.
Shes also taken on a more dangerous role as a willing test subject in Phase I trials of an experimental surgical process where stem cells were injected into her spine to hopefully slow the advance of ALS.
As the first woman in the program, Jones said she and her family knew the process could do as much harm as good.
What some people may not realize is that with stem cell research, its not like rubbing a cream on or something, said Jones husband, Earl. Its very risky, and the few who sign up are real heroes. As her family, we werent all that excited about saying, Yeah, open up that spine. You start sticking things in your spinal cord, and youre close to paralyzing an arm or leg or worse.
The Joneses said a significant feature of the trials involved a device invented by researchers at Emory Universitys ALS Center that allows for motion -- even the slight motion of breathing -- while making injections into the spine, significantly reducing the danger of mishap.
Jones said it takes a lot of one dollars to pay for such research, development of procedures and actual surgeries.
Its so simple to help in these next few days, she said. I just hope people will. I hope so not just for my sake but because ALS is on the rise and, sadly, its been discovered veterans and military members are twice as likely to develop ALS as others. Continued funding for research is the only way to find the cause and the cure to prevent more people and their families from suffering.
In addition to making a donation at an area CVS Pharmacy, donations can be made online at www.cvs.com/alscff. Donations go to the ALS Therapy Alliance, a leading organization dedicated to advancing ALS research. Jones said the CVS fundraiser also benefits research into cystic fibrosis, a disease related to ALS.