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(CBS) – She has a serious illness, but she hasn’t let it stop her from pursuing her dreams.

Ashley Looney of Homewood likes to think of herself as an expert at making the best of it. CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says she’s someone you should know.

For Ashley, life has a special meaning. That’s why she intends to live it to the fullest, even though an essential part of her existence depends on a machine.

At 12 she was diagnosed with a disease that destroyed her kidneys. Now 26, she spends two and a half hours, five days a week on a dialysis unit at her home that keeps her alive.

“I’ve had a lot of days when I really get emotional, and it’s really hard,” she says. “But then I think of how far I’ve come and like and how much more I want to do.”

How far has she come? After years of devoting herself to study, she has graduated from cosmetology school, an achievement that was crowned with a job.

Several weeks ago, she began working at the Sage Salon in Tinley Park. Talitha Tenison Knight, the owner of the business, had a close friend who died of kidney disease.

“I just saw the passion for life in Ashley,” she says.

Patrons of the salon are surprised to learn that Ashley is on dialysis.

“They’re just amazed that I’m about moving on with life and trying to get better,” she says.

Ashley is on the list for a kidney transplant.

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