PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — In a town that normally bleeds black and gold, the community wore orange to honor a 13-year-old battling Leukemia.
September is both Leukemia and Childhood Cancer Awareness month, but for Mileena Painter it’s more than just about wearing orange.
On the first day of sixth grade, Mileena told her mom, Rachelle Painter, she didn’t feel well.
“Suck it up, buttercup. You’re going to school,” Her mom told her before dropping her off for the day.
Mileena ended up in the doctor’s office.
“And he came in the room and I knew something was wrong by the look on his face, and he said, Rachelle, her white blood cell count is 272,000, and I knew immediately what that meant,” Rachelle Painter said.
Two years ago Mileena was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. And since then, the journey has been rough.
“If there’s ever a side effect, I get the side effect,” Mileena said.
One of the side effects was Neuropathy. She went from a cheerleader to being someone that was in a wheelchair in a matter of two weeks. At one point, her vocal cords were paralyzed and Mileena could only whisper.
But her determination to power through has remained unscathed and she has a village behind her who supports her each day.
Surrounded by her cheer teammates Mileena had only positive words to say.
“These beautiful girls have helped me through everything,” Mileena said. If I didn’t do cheer, I wouldn’t get out of bed.”
Excited for what the future holds, Mileena will complete her treatment on Dec. 7, 2019. However, her mother says at that point they will need prayer more than ever because they do not know if the cancer will return.