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Patient Stories

Our patients are the real success stories here at Marianjoy. Their stories give a glimpse of what rehabilitation can be like, helping readers understand the journey. Our patients are people of hope, courage, and strength.

It is our hope that their stories will inspire you as they do us.

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Cheyenne learns how to continue is sports with a prosthetic leg.

Teenage Patient Learns to Use Prosthetic Leg

After losing her leg to bone cancer, a Marianjoy patient is making strides toward her future, one step at a time.  Eighteen-year-old Cheyenne DeVelasco was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in the summer of 2014. As she went through chemotherapy and the amputation of her left leg, sometimes all she could focus on was getting through one moment at a time. Today, DeVelasco doesn’t take the small moments for granted. She is looking ahead and planning out her future.

Read Cheyenne's Story

Benny recovering in rehabilitation.

A Young Boy's Perserverance

What started out as a terrible cough for 7-year-old Benny quickly grew into a life-threatening situation. His parents thought he was suffering from a bad case of bronchitis until the coughing became so intense it left Benny vomiting and wheezing. He was rushed to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with asthma and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Read Benny's Story

Chung Im at the Marianjoy Emerging Fitness Center

Marianjoy’s Emerging Fitness Center Reaches Health Goals and Life Dreams

When some people encounter life-altering health events, it’s easy to feel defeated—
but that wasn’t an option for Chung Im or her husband, Kwan. After Chung experienced a stroke, she and her husband took every effort to get as healthy as possible. At 80 years old, they are in the best shape of their lives, a fact they credit to Marianjoy, especially its
Emerging Fitness Center.   

Read Chung Im's Story

Karen Krill with Marianjoy Physical Therapist Donna Zielke

Charting a Path to Peace and Recovery: A Stroke Survivor’s Journey

As a co-partner of a law firm and mother of two teenagers, Karen Krill was used to a busy life. However, during dinner Karen suddenly felt foggy, dizzy, and fatigued. The next morning, things had not improved. “I felt tingly on my right side, my balance was off, and I just wasn’t moving or thinking the right way.” An MRI revealed she had a bleed in her brainstem. Her neurosurgeon urged her to continue her treatment at Marianjoy. Karen recalls: “I was told, ‘You’ve got to get over to Marianjoy. They work wonders. The sooner you can start all the therapies they offer there, the better your brain and overall recovery will be."  Read Karen's Story

Geg Allen with Marianjoy Therapists

Former Marine Greg Allen Learns Patience and More from Marianjoy

A former marine, Greg Allen is used to tough situations and difficult terrain. However, he didn’t anticipate black ice in a parking lot would lead to his worst injury to date. As he was getting into his truck on January 20, 2014, he slipped on ice and shattered his leg. Greg was rushed to the hospital where doctors immobilized him and performed surgery.  Though the surgery was a success, doctors recommended Greg continue treatment at Marianjoy. “There was no way I could have gone home,” says Greg. “I had to relearn so much.”    Read Greg's Story

Brennan and Lisa Lazzaretto marry in the Marianjoy Rose Garden.

Brennan’s Next Chapter: Reclaiming Life After a Spinal Cord Injury

Brennan Lazzaretto, a teacher at Downers Grove South High School, was excited for the upcoming changes in his life as he and his fiancée, Lisa, bought a house and prepared for their wedding. However, they had no idea how much life was about to change.  At his new home, Brennan slipped off a ladder and fell eight feet, breaking his spine and neck in three places. The first thing he said to Lisa in the emergency room was, “I still want to marry you on our wedding date.” Smiling through the tears, she agreed, although she couldn’t imagine how this would be possible.

Read Brennan's Story

Scott Fisher surrounded by his Marianjoy Therapy Team.

Success Through Strength and Perseverance

Scott Fisher, a training instructor for a major automobile manufacturer, was in New York on business in April 2015. After a dinner meeting, Scott experienced flu-like symptoms that lasted for a week. Assuming it was food poisoning, he tried over-the-counter medications to help eliminate the symptoms. Two weeks later, the symptoms persisted. Little did Scott know this was just the beginning of a life-changing event.

Read Scott's Story

After rehab for a progressive stroke, Hieu Nguyen completes a 5k race.

Giving Back Instead of Giving Up

Three days into his progressive stroke, Hieu Nguyen found himself lying in his hospital bed, unable to move. At that moment, he could never have imagined himself participating in and completing a 5k race. On September 19, 2015, surrounded by several of his Marianjoy therapists and friends, that’s exactly what he did. 
Read Hieu's Story

Shannon Webster

When Shannon Webster has been a disability advocate since middle school, when she wrote a speech about her experience living with cerebral palsy. Throughout her life, Shannon often found herself having to discover her own way to do things: “I’ve always tried to keep up with everyone—I knew I just might look a little different doing it.”  Read Shannon's Story

Unlocking the Future

When José Rodriquez awoke with a bad headache and numbness on his left side, he immediately knew something was wrong. He drove himself to the hospital, where he experienced seizures and was put on life supportA science fiction/fantasy author in his free time, one of José’s most prized assets is his active imagination. However, he never envisioned what would prove to be his own greatest trial: a brain-stem stroke resulting in cerebromedullospinal disconnection, more commonly known as “Locked-In Syndrome.”  Following a stay in the intensive care unit of an acute care hospital, José was sent for inpatient rehabilitation at Marianjoy.  Read José's Story

Camee in the Marianjoy Aquatic Therapy Center salt-water pool.

Diving into Rehab:
Marianjoy’s Aquatic Fitness Center Helps Little Girl Walk

When Camee first came to Marianjoy, her referring doctor and family hoped Marianjoy’s aquatic therapy program would be able to help her stand and walk with assistance. Born with a type of neurotransmitter disorder, Camee had difficulty with the strength and flexibility needed for both activities. Camee not only improved with the program; she flourished. Read Camee's Story

Recovering Independence After a Spinal Cord Injury

Louis Meno attended the Indy 500 race with some friends on Memorial Day weekend in 2013. While there, in an impulsive moment, Louis fell and sustained a spinal cord injury. He was rushed to a local hospital and immediately into surgery. He had fractured the C5 and C6 vertrebrae in his neck, resulting in quadriplegia, paralysis from the chest down. "I didn't know what to expect, and I was scared," Louis says. "I just kept praying to God that somehow, some way, I would get all of my movement and sensation back."
Read Louis's Story

From Patient to Advocate: A Young Adult Strikes Back at Guillain-Barré

Tracy was working 80 hours per week and exercising at the gym. After feeling minor tingling in her feet, overall fatigue, and severe neck pain, Tracy was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). Tracy needed to rebuild her strength with physical therapy. “As soon as I got to Marianjoy, I recovered rapidly. I just knew this was my life, and I wanted to work to get it back,” she says. In just three months, she is walking, working part-time—and spending more time with friends and family.

Read Tracy's Story

A Courageous Comeback: Stepping Up to a New Beginning

During football practice, Kyle broke his ankle. The break required surgery and the placement of a rod, pins, and screws. Kyle was diagnosed with a staph infection that quickly spread to the bone. More than 13 months after his initial injury, and 12 surgeries later, Kyle’s leg was amputated just below the knee. Dan Hasso, a prosthetist at Scheck and Siress, casted Kyle for his new prosthesis and recommended Marianjoy for outpatient therapy to help Kyle return to an active athletic lifestyle.

Read Kyle's Story

Setting the Pace for Stroke Rehabilitation

Jennifer spent three weeks in the hospital until she was given a diagnosis; vertebral artery dissection and a stroke.“While in the acute care hospital, I had a tracheotomy and I was unable to take any food or liquid by mouth for three weeks. I chose Marianjoy because my first goal was to have the trach removed. Marianjoy’s Rose McSweeney Swallowing Center specializes in swallowing and voice issues and I just wanted to be able to swallow, talk, and eat again.”
Read Jennifer's Story

Surpassing Everyone’s Expectations

When Frankie was born at only 26 weeks, no one knew if she would make it. Weighing less than two pounds, she was baptized in an incubator while her family prayed for her survival. She was quadriplegic and diagnosed with cerebral palsy; prospects were grim for any kind of normal life.

Read Frankie's Story

Big Strides in Technology for Pint-Sized Independence

“Tuning” is a revolutionary approach to orthotics that Marianjoy is using, and has been using it since the procedure was published two years ago. It is making a big difference for patients like Maya, who has made tremendous progress with her ability to walk in just a year. “It’s really changed her life,” says Isabelle, Maya’s mother.

Read Maya's Story

Success after Stroke

What began as a quiet, ordinary morning for Bill O’Connor changed in an instant, when, in the middle of making breakfast, he experienced an intense headache and numbness on his right side. “Call 9-1-1,” he yelled to his fiancée of three weeks, before he lost consciousness and hit the floor. A sudden hemorrhage in Bill’s brain had caused a stroke.

Read Bill's Story

Marianjoy Ignites the Passion to Heal

At 27, Jim and his wife, Linda, were celebrating their second year of marriage and enjoying their three-month-old daughter. He owned a successful construction company and life, in Jim’s words, was going extremely well—that is, until the unthinkable occurred.

Read Jim's Story

Using Technology to Communicate

Nisarg Thakkar, a Marianjoy volunteer and patient, is a user and champion of the Tobii® Eye-Gaze. The technology helps him to compensate for the leftover communication and mobility challenges he experiences due to a previous brain tumor. In addition to quadraparesis and ataxia (conditions affecting motor control), Nisarg found his voice and speech were affected.

Read Nisarg's Story

In a League of Her Own:
Former Catcher Terry Donahue Gets “Back in the Game”

It’s not in Terry Donahue’s nature to let anything hold her back from what she loves. Her love of baseball led her to a world-renowned career as a catcher for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which made pop-culture history with the Hollywood blockbuster A League of Their Own. So when back pain from an old injury began to keep her from the athletic lifestyle she loved, she turned to Marianjoy.    Read Terry's Story

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

“I noticed immediately that if you take away all the degrees and certifications, you will be left with genuinely kind and caring individuals. You see it in their interactions with their patients as well as with each other. They work well together and help each other out."
Read Matt's Story

Stories of Healing Joyful Patients: Trevor

“Before we came here, we heard that Marianjoy worked miracles. But now that we’ve come here, we know absolutely, hands-down, that they do. Marianjoy will take care of you, from the day you get here till the day you’re 100%. Our experience here is better than I could have imagined—it’s just been phenomenal.”

Read Trevor's Story

Behind the Wheel: Blake Learns to Drive with Marianjoy’s Driver Rehabilitation Program

An active wheelchair basketball player, Blake was relying on fellow team members and family to drive him around. He watched his twin sister get her license at 16, and he was determined to get his, too. With Marianjoy’s Driver Rehabilitation Center, Blake is realizing his dream of learning how to drive, himself. “I was the first one my sister drove after she got her license,” says Blake. “Once I get my license, I want her to be the first one I drive. I want her to see that I’ve made it.”

Read Blake's Story

Driven to Independence

Shannon O’Brien didn’t let her disability hold her back from her dream of helping others. With the help of Marianjoy’s unique Driver Rehabilitation Program, she now drives herself to work, where she helps families as a Family Support Administrator for Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (FSMA).

Read Shannon's Story

A Child’s Struggle; a Mother’s Fight: How Jen Burgstone Found Answers for Autism at Marianjoy for Her Daughter, Emily

Although doctors told her nothing was wrong, Jen Burgstone knew her daughter, Emily, was struggling. Frustrated but determined, Jen turned to Marianjoy for help. There, she found the answer—autism—as well as the resources that have helped Emily to blossom.

Read Emily's Story

Building a Future for Others with Disabilities

Justin Marshall is no stranger to accessibility challenges. As a wheelchair-user himself, he has an intimate knowledge of the challenges that people with disabilities encounter with their environment. “My career path in architecture was dictated by what many may consider a disability, but I have found it to be a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “I’ve made it my life’s goal to eliminate as many obstacles as I can.” Justin uses his unique perspective as a wheelchair-user and an architect to redesign the world, one blueprint at a time.

Read Justin's Story

Achieving His Dream

In 2002, Matt was struck by a hit-and-run driver, which caused a traumatic brain injury. He came to Marianjoy for therapy, where he made tremendous recovery. He got back into the athletics he loved, and he found a new career path in occupational therapy, which he is currently studying in college. Matt is a previous Marianjoy Scholarship winner.

Read Matt's Story

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

“You never realize how important the role of a physical or occupational therapist is until you need them. And around here, they mean business. You are here to get better and you have to put in the work so you can continue to improve. ”
Read Warren's Story

Marianjoy Stroke Rehabilitation

“When you have a stroke and you’re sitting in a wheelchair wondering if you’ll ever walk again, there is no deadline for when that will happen. It takes time. It takes perseverance and faith. And it takes patience.”
Read Robert's Story

Marianjoy Inpatient & Outpatient Rehabilitation

“The people at Marianjoy are great – they are compassionate and treat each person with respect and dignity.”
Read Dennis' Story

Marianjoy Inpatient Rehabilitation

“The therapists prepared me to go home and I felt very confident and capable of doing so. I could clearly see the value in everything they taught me."
Read Jim's Story

Marianjoy Driver Rehabilitation Program

“The driver rehabilitation program at Marianjoy is incredible. No one else offers a program like this."
Read Shannon's Story


Marianjoy Brain Injury Program

“What Marianjoy did for Anthony was a miracle. And one of the most important components to the process for me was the Teen Connections Support Group, which is specifically designed for teenagers and young adults with brain injuries. It gave Anthony the opportunity to interact with other brain injury survivors and gave me and his sister, Cassie, an outlet as well.”

Read Anthony's Story

Marianjoy Day Rehabilitation Program

“When Jack arrived at Marianjoy, he was in a wheelchair and very weak. Within the first couple of days, the therapists had him standing, doing exercises to build strength and to improve the range of motion in his arm and leg,” states Cindy as she sits, admiring her son’s progress with a smile. “I can’t think of one day since we’ve been here that we haven’t seen improvement. The people here are so determined to get him better.”

Read Jack's Story

Marianjoy Stroke Program

“The therapists and people here at Marianjoy are sensitive to each individual. They make you comfortable and build trust. They treat each person like an equal regardless of their abilities.”
Read Rosalie's Story

Marianjoy Integrative Pain Treatment Program

“I came to Marianjoy with a myriad of issues that needed to be addressed. They in turn used an integrative approach to help me heal. They taught me how to pace myself, plan ahead, and gain control of my activities. Now my quality of life is incredible.”
Read Kristina's Story

Marianjoy Joint Access Program

“The minute you arrive, you feel welcome. The facility is beautiful and having a private room really made a difference for me. But even more positive than the facility, amenities or atmosphere, are the people who work here. They are all so warm and respectful. Everyone smiles and has something pleasant to say, even if it’s just a simple ‘hello’.”
Read Sue's Story

Marianjoy Outpatient Rehabilitation

“ The staff at Marianjoy is just wonderful. If a person needs any type of rehabilitation, for whatever reason, Marianjoy is absolutely, unequivocally the best place to be. I tell everyone I meet about the care I received. There is no question in my mind that if not for Marianjoy I would not have recovered as quickly and as well as I did."
Read Sue's Story

Marianjoy Stroke Program

“It has been quite an experience,” confirms Michelle. “I made many friends at Marianjoy while I was there–both the staff as well as other patients. Everyone was really wonderful. Their attitudes are positive and very encouraging. They knew just when to push and how hard to do so without being aggressive in their approach."
Read Michelle's Story

Marianjoy Inpatient & Outpatient Rehabilitation

“Marianjoy gave me hope, love and the drive to recover. Without the therapists, there would have been days that I wouldn’t have had the will to go forward and the setbacks that I encountered would have consumed me. The staff is exceptional, wearing their hearts on their sleeves."
Read Maria's Story

Marianjoy Day Rehabilitation Program

“There were family members of ours who had been at Marianjoy. We knew about its wonderful reputation. It was where Kevin needed to be.”
Read Kevin's story


Marianjoy Joint Access Program

“Prior to surgery, I did my homework to find the best surgeon and rehabilitation facility and truly, Marianjoy exceeded my expectations.”
Read Monika's story

Marianjoy Pediatric Rehabilitation

"We're all looking for our children to heal. Marianjoy is a good place to do just that." Read Devin's story

Marianjoy Spinal Cord Injury Program

"My life isn't over, it's just different."
Read Steve's story


Marianjoy Pediatric Rehabilitation

"Dr. Keen...she’s as solid as it gets. Her knowledge and expertise have kept my daughter alive."
Read Cassie's story


Marianjoy Pediatric Rehabilitation

"We've never questioned if we made the right decision about bringing Kevin to Marianjoy.  He couldn’t have received better care anywhere else. "
Read Kevin's story


Marianjoy Neuromuscular Program

"Today I am walking, running, and even dancing—usually right at home in my family room, with my toddler at my side. My life has certainly changed for the best since my battle with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and I have the people at Marianjoy to thank for helping me to get back on track by showing me how to live the best life possible."
Read Lindy's story

Marianjoy Stroke Program

"I don’t think another facility could have done what Marianjoy has done for me.They gave my family and me hope."
Read Phil's story

Marianjoy Musculoskeletal Program

"The key to any recovery is the delicate balance of medical prowess and patient attitude. The staff at Marianjoy is keenly adept at maintaining a positive mental attitude among themselves as well as their patients. These capable and dedicated individuals are the 'secret weapons' that Marianjoy freely offers to heal both the body and the human spirit."
Read Myra's story

Marianjoy Stroke Program

"I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have this opportunity to volunteer at Marianjoy with these patients. I consider this angel work and my sincere calling. What Marianjoy gave to me, I now give back to others"
Read Lisa's story

Marianjoy Brain Injury Program

“I cannot say enough about the care my son received, and continues to receive, at Marianjoy,” says Melody. “The staff was aggressive in his care and didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, especially when it came to pushing Chris to do what they knew he was capable of doing – and that was getting better. It’s a special place.”

Read Chris's story