MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Formally trained chef Catherine DiGiovanni loves preparing foods of every kind. CBS2 was there when she shared this passion with patients at Transitions of Long Island, a rehabilitation center for people suffering from neurological injuries or illnesses.

It wasn’t too long ago that Catherine herself was a patient at the Manhasset outpatient facility.

“Six years ago I was hit by a drunk driver. Without a doubt in mere seconds, my life changed forever,” said Catherine.

Following the accident, Catherine said that she was unable to control her hands, had trouble seeing, and had a diminished sense of smell.

“When I lost my sense of smell, I needed to find food again to find myself again,” she added.

She started by writing a book, highlighting recipes such as her childhood favorite, s’mores.

Since then, her doctor says her progress has been remarkable. According to Dr. Jean Elbaum, she is both driving and living independently.

Those who hear Catherine’s story find it hard to believe. “I thought it was pretty amazing that she survived it,” said Michael Newman, patient at Transitions of Long Island.

Equally amazed is Catherine’s mother, Mary DiGiovanni. “What she went through for six and a half years, we’re very blessed she’s with us today to do something like this for herself,” she said.

In addition to sharing her love of cooking with those in need, Catherine is earning a teacher’s degree with the ultimate goal of instructing brain injury patients on how to live again.