First for someone wanting only true fans you should know that's not why she stopped making the show.
Secondly the manga and the anime don't mesh that perfectly together, a lot of what happens in the ending part of the series either does not happen in the manga or is changed a whole lot. Not only that but there is a lot that takes place in the anime (even whole characters) that never exsist in the manga.
I would say start more towards the middle of the manga series (somewhere in the 20s) even though a lot of what you'll read you will recognize from the anime it will help you since there is A LOT of differences between the anime and the manga.
Or start from number 1...that way you won't get confused