Teen graduates high school after undergoing double lung transplant

CHICAGO, IL -- A little more than a year after she was given a second chance at life, a suburban teen is taking her next big step.

Rachel Sweet graduated Tuesday night from Lincoln Way West High School in New Lenox. She has cystic fibrosis and spent a lot of time out of school and in the hospital. In March 2014, she underwent a double lung transplant.

With her parents in the stands cheering her on, Sweet explained what she was thinking of on her big night.

"Just this long journey that I've been on. All the hard work and determination it took to go from my transplant to be able to graduate with my class," Sweet said.

Sweet is going to attend Joliet Junior College, where she plans to study accounting.

"Just watching her take those steps, knowing that 14 months ago, she'd have to sit down halfway through just to get up to the stage," dad Jim Sweet said.

Rachel was 4 when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a debilitating condition leaving her lungs filled with fluid.

"It was hard to do anything. I stayed in bed. I couldn't get up. I didn't see my friends," she said.

Her first three years at Lincoln Way West were spent at home with a tutor.

"It was hard not to be in the classroom with the teachers, learning with everybody else, and being able to sit with the discussion and be able to hear your peers," Rachel said.

But after her transplant at Loyola Hospital, Rachel was even able to attend football games and her prom.

"Our whole conversations while she was growing up was basically her medical condition, her medications, and her doctors. Now after the transplant, we speak about the future," said mom Sue Sweet.

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