Originally Published: August 13, 2006 4 a.m.
PRESCOTT This past March, for the second time in her 20 years, Leah Mora learned that she would have to battle Hodgkin's disease.
The 2004 Prescott High School graduate first learned she had the lymphatic cancer in May 2004 a month before she graduated. She went through eight months of chemotherapy and radiation and was in remission until the beginning of this year. Doctors confirmed in March that the cancer had returned.
"The first time," Leah said during a recent phone interview, "I thought, 'I can make it. The chances of survival are high.'"
"The second time, I thought, 'Whoa, this is scary.'"
"It's a real eye-opener," she said. "It's unbelievable."
She currently is in a Phoenix hospital receiving treatment for the cancer. One of her best chances for survival is a stem cell transplant a $250,000 procedure her insurance won't cover because it's a pre-existing condition.
Even after she receives the transplant, Leah will incur an additional $250,000 in costs for staying near the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix so she can finish up treatment.
Leah's husband, Patrick Mora, 22, graduated from Prescott High School in 2002 and now works for the City of Prescott.
"I'd do anything to reverse the situation," he said. "I would take it on if I could."
Leah and Patrick started dating during the summer before his senior year and her sophomore year in high school.
After Leah's graduation and a few rounds of treatment, the couple went as youth leaders with the First Assembly of God on a trip to Disneyland, where Patrick reserved a balcony room with a view at one of the resort's hotels.
The couple ate dinner on the balcony and then watched the resort's fireworks. Disneyland personnel brought out a special dessert tray featuring a glass slipper that featured its own jewel an engagement ring.
The cancer "didn't bother me then and it doesn't bother me now," Patrick said during a phone interview.
"This is just an obstacle in life that we're going to make it through," he said. "Just believing in God, this is going to be the last time and then we're going to go on and do the things young married couples do."
Leah's mom Nancy Snyder admits that hearing her daughter is sick "is heart-wrenching," because "that's the worst time, when your kids are sick and you can't do anything for it."
However, she said, "I'm not going through it. She is. She's the one who needs the thoughts and prayers and good energy."
Leah "has got incredible spirit. She's a loving, caring, kind person," Snyder said. "She always has been."
"We want to get this over with," Patrick said. "We want to move on and start a family."
The Prescott natives "plan on staying here for a good part, if not the rest of our lives," Patrick said.
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