Currituck, North Carolina -- In the newly released movie "Miracles from Heaven," a little girl contracts a form of gastroparesis. The often misdiagnosed condition leads to the stomach being paralyzed, and food often rots inside of suffers, leading to intense pain, bloating and malnutrition.
"I`m more afraid of eating than I am of anything else," said Virginia Hurst of Virginia Beach. "I`m really not afraid of life. I`m afraid of eating."
Last year, NewsChannel 3 shared the horror stories of several women from Hampton Roads and North Carolina battling with the disease. Now, they are grateful the movie's release will help friends, family and doctors understand what they are going through with gastroparesis.
"I'm hoping that this movie is going to show people how much we really so suffer, and now much pain we're really in," said Rebecca Halstead of Currituck, North Carolina, who has dropped to 85 pounds because of the illness. "The pain is very real."
Experts in gastroparesis research told NewsChannel 3 the signs and symptoms often go misdiagnosed or ignored by doctors, leading to huge emotional blows to patients as well.
Kristi McAloon hopes the movie will help serve as a point of reference.
"It's not just her miracle that she got cured," said McAloon. "It's our miracle that our story is getting out there."
There are nearly 5 million people in the United States suffering from the cruel condition, and those with the severest forms gastroparesis are left with little options for cures or a chance at a normal life or the ability to work on a regular basis. Thousands have signed a petition demanding the Social Security Administration consider gastroparesis as a disability.
“I’m going to keep fighting so I’m not going away until I’m gone,” Halstead said.