KARK has been following Leslie Harris' story for over a year. She is still waiting a for a life-saving bone marrow match but thrilled she is helping save others.
For Leslie and her mother, Rhonda Harris, playing with Leslie's son Ayden is such a joy, it's hard to think this moment almost didn't happen.
"They said I had a three percent chance of living, to write my will and call my family," Leslie Harris explained.
September 2011 doctors diagnosed Leslie with leukemia while she was in the hospital giving birth. Doctors gave her six months to a year to live without a life-saving bone marrow match. The news sent her family spinning and searching for a match.
"I sat down after 24 hours of terror and I was holding the baby and I literally said you have to calm me one way or another," said Rhonda Harris.
"My mom got real worried and she started crying and said how are we supposed to find 25.000 donors and I said mom, we only need one. We only need one for me," said Leslie Harris.
But the family soon found searching for the one and taking care of baby Ayden would take a village. Leslie's friends and family plastered her face and story all over and held drives across Arkansas and surrounding states, trying to save a woman they'd never met.
While volunteers solicited swabs and spread awareness about bone marrow donation, Leslie pushed to stay alive and take care of Ayden.
"It was a fight to do anything. To change his diaper, to take medicine," said Leslie.
As she focused on surviving, her family promised to make every moment count, knowing the bigger her little blond boy grew, time was running out.
Loved ones helped Leslie tackle her bucket list of making it through the holidays and put a check beside putting Ayden's toes in the ocean.
"She said, mom, I want to get lots of video and pictures that way if I'm not here next year on Mother's Day he'll know we did something rocking cool the first one," Rhonda Harris shared.
For Ayden's first birthday the family threw a big party. At the one year mark he was teething, busy and loving. His proud mother still didn't have a match but had plenty to celebrate.
"I never thought I would make it to his first birthday," said Leslie.
Leslie is down from taking 50 pills a day to eight and her cancer is in remission, despite not having a donor.
"Every day, I think it's bigger than me," she said.
Now she's focusing on her new mission, continuing to save lives through spreading awareness and getting strong enough to run after Ayden for years to come.
So far, drives for Leslie Harris have added over 6,000 new potential donors to the national registry and discovered 41 potential matches for others searching for a match.
Friends have planned another drive to help find a bone marrow match for Leslie. It'll be held Sunday, November 25th at the Full Moon Walk Health Fair at Cook's Landing in North Little Rock from 5:00-7:30pm.
Click here to learn more about bone marrow donation and the fight against blood cancer.