Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month: Jill’s Story

PHOTO (L to R): Aimee Aranguren, SLP; Elizabeth Stokes, OTR/L; Jillian Dechen; and Tracy Agostinho, CTRS

In 2011, Jill was living her dream life. Working as a full time emergency care travel nurse, she would venture to a new city every 12 weeks to meet new friends, explore the local culture, and enjoy nature through hikes. 

That fall, Jill was stationed in Maine when she started to notice increased dizziness and confusion, left arm weakness, and foot drop. Her mom drove her back to Philadelphia where she received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at just 27 years old.

Jill went through three exacerbations in just under three months with resulting right-sided paralysis, facial droop, decreased balance, and slurred speech. Jill spent four weeks at Magee in early 2014 prior to going home with her mom.

Of her experience, Jill said: “My favorite part of Magee was the way everyone on the team treated me like a real person. Everyone I interacted with from the therapy and nursing staff was so nice.”

Jill has continued to build on her success since her discharge from Magee. In the last few years, she has completed a half-marathon, city-to-shore MS bike ride, and MS mud run; done multiple speaking engagements on MS awareness; participated in Magee’s MS peer mentor program; and served as an active member of Magee’s MS support group. 

“My favorite aspect of the MS support group is having a community that truly understands what [people living with MS] are going through physically and emotionally,” she said.

Jill’s next adventure begins this month as she moves across the country to Wyoming. Wishing you all the best, Jill!

March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. Magee’s MS support group meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 12:15 p.m. Click here for more information or call (215) 587-3106.

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