Just one day after graduating high school, Kendall Thorn found herself back in a familiar place – a hospital room at Children's Medical Center of Dallas.
The 18-year-old lives with cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disease that strikes the lungs and digestive system. It will eventually be fatal. The average life expectancy is 40, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
"That's the thing with CF," said Kendall Thorn. "It's progressively worsening."
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Patients must be careful in public settings and limit their exposure to potential germs.
"If I get a cold, I could be in the hospital for the next week," she said.
On the day NBC 5 met Thorn, members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra offered to visit CF patients who had been confined to their rooms for long treatment programs. Patients ranged from elementary age to recent high school grads, like her.
"Even if you don't know what CF means or why you're here, music is good for everyone," said Thorn. "Music always means something different to someone else."
For cystic fibrosis's youngest patients the disease is isolating in its complexity, for its oldest, its finality.
"I've had my share of breakdowns and cry outs about, 'Why is this happening,' for sure, but my support system gets me through," said Thorn.
In fact, she said she is fueled by her prognosis. She suffered through multiple sick days and setbacks to graduate high school. In the fall, she plans to attend the University of Oklahoma and pursue a journalism degree.
"Everybody gets a different hand in life, so you have to ask yourself, 'What's your legacy going to be? What are you going to leave behind? So what do you want to do with your life?'" she said.