In 1996, Pittsburgh native Sonja started a life in Cambodia \u2014 first as a missionary and then as a full-time teacher.\nNearly two decades later, the married mother of three traveled to her native Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, when she grew dangerously ill.\nStress from work and grueling hours of travel weakened Sonja\u2019s immune system. She was first diagnosed with pneumonia and on New Year\u2019s Day, as her oxygen levels lowered, she was flown to UPMC Presbyterian and diagnosed with H1N1, the swine flu.\nH1N1 causes severe respiratory distress and can be fatal if not quickly treated. The illness left her\u00a0bedridden for two months. She was admitted to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Montefiore to regain her strength.\nDuring her time at the Rehab Institute, she regained the ability to stand and walk.\n\u201cThe doctors told me they were going to push me hard for three hours a day so I\u2019d get stronger,\u201d Sonja recalled. \u201cI told them I\u2019d been through enough and I didn\u2019t want \u2018hard.\u2019 I wanted easy! But they told me that they were able to help stroke patients. So I figured, if stroke patients can do this rehab, then so can I.\u201d\nLearn more about Sonja\u2019s story on the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute website.