WILMINGTON -- A Wilmington woman is fighting for her life, battling a potentially fatal disease that not many doctors know how to treat. Instead of giving up hope, Stacey Laurence is working to raise awareness and possibly find a cure. "I never thought I was going to be this sick. I thought, ok, we're going to figure this out, I'm going to get back to work, we're going to have a normal life," says Laurence. "It hasn't worked out that way." About a year and a half ago, Stacey Laurence was diagnosed with Gastroparesis, a disease in which the stomach becomes paralyzed and food can't be digested. Since the diagnosis, Stacey has lost 56 pounds. Doctors from all over the country have tried to find a treatment for Stacey, but no success. "They told us, we don't know what to do other than to keep you on a feeding tube and try and keep the weight on your body." To save Stacey's life, doctors inserted feeding and drainage tubes directly into her intestine. The challenge of living this way is a day to day struggle. Despite the lack of hope from doctors, Stacey is gaining strength from her 8-year-old daughter Riley, and her fiance, Todd. "We were looking forward to moving in together, being engaged, being married." "Getting through every day just makes you stronger and you realize you can deal with whatever you have to deal with," says Stacey's fiance, Todd Smith. "The little things you take for granted definitely quickly become a backburner and you quickly realize all of the things you can do and all of the things you will do to maintain the family." The couple says that despite the overwhelming challenges, a June wedding is still in the works. Stacey has worked to establish the first-ever foundation to raise money for Gastroparesis research. A benefit will be held this Saturday at the Coastline Convention Center in downtown Wilmington for the foundation. Tickets are $25 each, all of the proceeds go to research and to help pay some of the medical expenses Stacey and her family have had to deal with.
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