OTTAWA - Double-lung transplant recipient Helene Campbell finally returned to her Barrhaven home on Monday, warmly greeted with hugs and kisses from nearly a dozen friends and family members.
It's been a long time coming for the 21-year-old, who has been yearning to return home since her April 6 surgery in Toronto.
Her quiet suburban street came to life when her minivan rolled around the corner, with Campbell smiling from behind the wheel.
Her father Alan picked her up in his arms when she stepped out of the car. Neighbours rushed across the street to embrace her.
But the biggest surprise of all was waiting for her in her room.
"We have lots of people waiting to see her inside," Alan whispered.
Her ride home couldn't be over fast enough, as Campbell's mind whirled with all of the things she hoped to do when she got home.
"Being with my family is a priority, I missed them a lot," she said, after her long drive home.
"I'm really looking forward to spending some time with them. And just being back in Ottawa, my hometown, where everybody supported this cause so much. That's really, really encouraging me."
Campbell's campaign to raise awareness about organ donations gained international acclaim when she famously grabbed the attention of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
She still plans to dance alongside DeGeneres on the Ellen Show, as soon as she's rejuvenated and fit to fly.
"Absolutely, that's going to happen!" she exclaimed.
In fact, she's been planning her dance moves for quite some time.
But most of all, she can't wait to relax, hop in the pool and enjoy the summer "just being Helene, the girl I've always been."
Of course, not everything can go back to the way it used to be.
"I won't be as available for things I used to be able to do in the past," she admitted. "I used to be all over the place."
Campbell will have to live a regimented lifestyle as her body adapts to its new lungs, and she'll have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life.
But now that she's free and clear of the oxygen tank she's always called her "Darth Vader" mask, she says it's time to settle in and watch the real Dark Lord in her favourite Star Wars saga.