CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chanel Hobbs spends her days idle in a wheelchair unable to walk, talk or breathe on her own.
At just 39 years old Chanel felt a twitching in her leg that would eventually lead to a devastating diagnosis at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
“We would go for walks and she started to trip and drag her foot a little bit,” says husband Lamont Hobbs. “After a series of tests they came and said you have ALS.”
“And the lifespan is two to five years -- she could have given up a long time ago,” he added.
Chanel was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gherig’s disease, which affects a person’s muscles from moving. People living with the terminal disease, like Chanel, cannot move, but their mind remains unaffected.
“I was devastated when I was diagnosed with ALS and I grieved with every loss I experienced,” says Chanel. “Losing my ability to move, talk and walk, eat and breathe. I grieved each one, but I also looked at my blessings.”
Despite her diagnosis, don’t expect an invitation to Chanel’s pity party.
“Frowning or staying sad about my situation gets me nowhere,” Chanel says through a computer-generated voice. “Why be miserable.”
Hour by hour Chanel continues to beat the odds.
“I want everyone to know that if I can keep fighting what I am going through you can fight too,” Chanel says.
From day one of her diagnosis, Chanel was determined to live a normal life with former high school sweetheart and now husband, Lamont.
“It is definitely not a burden,” Lamont says. “It has made our relationship even stronger and more determined.”
“Every day I look at my husband and my beautiful daughters and I know I must fight,” Chanel says.
Mom doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to the couple’s two daughters Angel and Deja.
“My dad asked us the other day if we were going to work and she answered for us,” says 16-year-old Angel. “[ALS] hasn’t changed her personality in any way.”
“I feel like our family really came together to get through this,” says 15-year-old Deja.
Chanel practices what she preaches.
“I refuse to stop being the wife and mother I want to be,” says Chanel.
Behind her beautiful smile lies an iron will.
Chanel works full-time as a deputy controller at the State Corporation Commission, using a specially modified computer.
“Working helps give me a purpose,” says Chanel. “If I can work I hope it can inspire others to do something.”
At Metropolitan Baptist Church in Petersburg, where Lamont is pastor, the 46 year-old is known as Lady Chanel.
Lady Chanel even authors a weekly blog.
“I am honored that I know I inspire others. I don’t take that for granted,” Chanel says. “Faith in God keeps me going. He has blessed me with the strength to keep going regardless of my situation.”
This loving mother, wife and friend to all writes her own tale of resiliency.
“No is not an option. I may have many limitations but I also have many abilities,” says Chanel. “I can still love share and show kindness.”
ALS may have robbed Lady Chanel of her body, but she promises to never let the devastating disease touch her soaring spirit.
“Yes, they say I have a terminal illness, but don’t we all have an appointed time. Instead of thinking about the end I choose to live now.”
If you know of someone who you would like to see me feature in my “Heroes Among Us” segment email me at Heroes@WTVR.COM