CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - Life gets turned upside down when you're hit by a life-threatening disease. Usually, everything else gets put on hold. But a teenage girl who underwent a double lung transplant just to live wanted something else - a diploma.
For Rachel Sweet, graduation day came right on time this spring.
You're thinking, 'that's nice,' but a lot of young people are getting their diplomas. Not that long ago, Rachel didn't know how long she'd be alive.
Her cystic fibrosis was getting worse and she was getting assignments sent home from school.
"And I'd do it in the hospital, which is kind of hard because when you're sick, you just don't feel like doing homework," she says.
The great news: Rachel finally got a double lung transplant last year. The bad: her junior year in school was all but wiped out. But she stuck to her studies with a tutor.
"Rachel, from day one, always had an attitude of I'm going to get through this," said Erin Lowery, MD, Transplant Pulmonologist at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois.
Her doctor thinks chasing after that diploma literally distracted Rachel from her fragile health.
"You just have to have a goal in mind and you have to stick with it and think about everything you can do to get you there," Rachel says.
Now, Rachel says 'the sky is the limit.' "It's an accomplishment right here. It tells me what I've done and what I've earned," Rachel says. She is heading to junior college, where she'll study accounting.