Jackie Price was sitting on her front porch when I pulled up to her house. Her dogs came out to my car with a friendly greeting - and that warm, open tone was never broken throughout the entire interview.
For 25 years, Jackie has been living with Cystic Fibrosis. It's a rare genetic disease that affects your lungs and pancreas. On top of that, she also has a rare gene mutation of CF, which makes her treatments even more complicated.
Jackie welcomed me into her home without any hesitation and let me poke my head into different rooms to find the best lighting for an interview (which ended up on the gorgeous porch out back). She didn't seem nervous at all - and over the span of the couple hours, she asked me more questions about the news business than I asked her about Cystic Fibrosis.
As I drove away from her house, it's like the interview started to really soak into my brain. "She's had several near death moments in her lifetime," I thought, "And maybe the worst of all within just the last year."
After Jackie told me about her birth - how doctors told her dad she wasn't going to make it through surgery, but he told them to go back in because losing her wasn't an option - I told Jackie her life is a miracle.
But when I think about what she all went through in the last year, her life is even more of a miracle today than it was back then.
At this time last year, Jackie had just woken up from a medically induced coma. What was supposed to be a routine sinus surgery (something she's been through six times before), turned into blood getting into her lungs and an infection that spread quickly. She stayed in the hospital for nearly five months, and even when she was released, doctors told her it would take one week of recovery for each day she spent in the hospital.
So now she's dealing with (1) Cystic Fibrosis, (2) a lung transplant, (3) is on a waiting list for a new kidney... and then she mentions that she's diabetic too.
If there is anyone who has a right to complain about the cards life dealt her, or sob while telling her story, it's Jackie Price.
But Jackie didn't linger on the negative too long. Sure, she said, "it's been a long year" and "there have been really hard days," but she quickly ended each story about her trials with a positive.
No, the research isn't as far along for her gene of CF, but they brought her and her brother to Boston for testing - so they're working on it.
No, she hasn't been able to go back to work full time since her lung transplant, but she's making it there twice a week.
No, she won't be able to get rid of the scars from her tracheotomy and dozens of other surgeries, but she's alive.
No, she doesn't look at the average life expectancy for a person with CF because, "It's always changing. Because next year it could be 10 more years."
It's been a week since I met Jackie and I'm still running through that interview in my head. I hope her strength, positive outlook and tenacity come across in this story. She is a fighter - no matter how many times she's been knocked down.