NJ woman fights through series of illnesses to follow dream of becoming doctor

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A New Jersey woman had to fight through a series of illnesses to finally complete her dream of becoming a doctor.

Jill Konowich says that she knew that she wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. She finally achieved that goal as she walks through the halls of Overlook Medical Center in Summit. She says that walking is not an action she takes for granted because it wasn’t very long ago that she was in a wheelchair.

"I kept trying to tell myself that, you know, doctors can be in wheelchairs. Maybe that's going to be my way and I just have to change my original path,” she says.

Konowich ran marathons and played tennis competitively. But during a run in 2013, she experienced a feeling that she says threatened to alter the course of her entire life.

"All of a sudden, I felt this very sudden, like, hip pop,” she says.

She says that this was followed by extreme pain and some numbness in her leg. Her condition worsened. She says that she had to eventually use a wheelchair.

"It feels like losing an identity, right? I'm a hard worker. I was athletic. I was helpful. And then I went to a part of like, I'm disabled and everyone has to help me,” Konowich says.

In February 2014 Konowich was told she had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome but her condition continued to progress. It wasn't until just over two years later that she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

She had to take leave from her education because of her condition. She underwent treatment and says she began to see a significant improvement in March of 2017. She finished her medical school classes last December.

"I've been able to kind of claim some pieces of my life back,” Konowich says.

The director of Konowich's internal medicine program says that her experience helps her to bring a unique sense of empathy to her work.

"She's been there and is able to relate to patients in a way that's very special,” says Dr. Jeff Brensilver.

Konowich is now completing her internal medicine internship at Overlook Medical Center. She will begin her radiation oncology residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick this July.

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