Loving Leah: Elkmont community embraces 15-year-old girl fighting cancer

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ELKMONT, Ala. (WHNT) - Schoolwork, gossip, cheerleading -- these are the activities of an ordinary teenage girl. But Leah Seibert is no ordinary girl.

She is a 15-year-old fighting cancer and doing it with a smile.

"She has always got a smile on her face and I just know that she's going to fight her way through it," said Chloe Murphy, Leah's best friend.

Leah is 29 weeks through her aggressive 54-week treatment plan for rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the connective tissues.

She was diagnosed in February and has been traveling back and forth to St. Jude Children's  Research Hospital in Memphis ever since.

While the battle within her body is her own, she certainly isn't fighting it alone.

From T-shirts to bracelets to chicken stew fundraisers, the Elkmont community has come together to support Leah in every way possible.

"Elkmont may be small, but it's big in heart. This town has always risen to the occasion of whatever anyone in our community has needed," said Elkmont cheerleading coach Cindy Wales.

"Before I got sick, I didn't know this many people knew me," said Leah. "I was just like a fly on the wall, blending in with everybody else, but they kind of notice you when you don't have any hair."

Despite her near-celebrity status in her hometown, Leah tries to keep her school life as normal as possible, including cheering on her Red Devils on Friday nights.

"It just means everything to me right now," said Leah.

When she does have to travel to Memphis for treatments, her best friend of nine years, Chloe, is her line of communication back to reality.

When they learned of Leah's diagnosis, the two were forced to grow up more quickly than most teenagers should.

"I was very emotional, of course, because she is my best friend, but I knew that God would see her through," said Chloe.

Through it all, Leah says she has learned one of life's biggest lessons, not to take anything for granted.

"Even though there's rough times in your life, you can still get through it with your community and people will actually come up and support you that you don't even know."

So Leah will keep doing her schoolwork and gossiping and cheering and, most importantly, fighting.

To help Leah in her fight against rhabdomyosarcoma, click here.