Cape Girardeau woman gets degree despite debilitating disease - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau woman gets degree despite debilitating disease

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Never give up, that is the message from a Cape Girardeau woman.

Pat Sweeney refused to let a debilitating disease get in her way.

Life has given her plenty to complain about.

Pat has Multiple Sclerosis, an inflammatory disease that attacks the nervous system. She is also going blind.

"That's a side effect of MS, it effects the optic nerve, one of the weakest nerves in your body," said Pat.

In 2007, she suffered from what people with MS call an "attack."

She lost complete vision in her right eye, and she is down to 48% vision in her left eye.

It has robbed her of some independence; she has no car in her driveway.

"It's hard," said Pat.

She reached out to Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, which offered hope.

"I guess there's one benefit to going blind," said Pat. "Because, now I can finish my college education."

Her blessing in disguise was college tuition paid for through a state program at Southeast Missouri State. Now she just had to make it happen.

"How am I going to do this? Because at that time I was barely able to walk," said Pat. A lot of us MS patients have mobility problems. I'm one of those they can hear me before they see me because I drag my left leg."

So, with her limited mobility and vision she grimaced at every hill on campus.

"This is another challenge God's put me in and I'm going to do this," said Pat.

She also pushed through obstacles in the classroom.

"I was older than most of my teachers, let alone the students," she said.

She had been out of school for 29-years and wanted nothing more than to earn a degree in criminal justice.

"That's my biggest goal, to walk that stage," said Pat.

After four and a half years that dream became a reality.

"I didn't come this far to quit," Pat said.

Over the weekend, Sweeney held her head high earning that college degree. By the way, she graduated with honors.

"If you want something bad enough no one or nothing will stop you," Pat said.

Her next obstacle is finding a job, she is hopeful an opportunity is just around the corner.

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