I Am a Survivor in More Ways Than One

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by BioNews Staff |

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(Courtesy of Jean Mellano)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” —Charles Dickens

The worst of times

Currently, my retirement community is on lockdown and was one of the first places in my county in Long Island, New York, where COVID-19 cases were reported. Eight residents have since passed from this virus. (One was a vibrant 89-year-old with no underlying conditions).

While having a pity party for myself over my current circumstances, I lamented the fact that my late beloved life partner, Steve, was not here with me so that we could face this pandemic shoulder to shoulder and lean on each other when the going gets tough. After all, Steve helped me through my cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2007. He was there with me on 9/11. I miss his strength and strong arms around me during this turbulent time. With Steve at my side, I felt I could face anything.

Unfortunately, Steve passed in 2015, and seven months later, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Now it is 2020, and we are in the midst of a pandemic and a country divided. I miss Steve more than ever.

My rock

I shared with a mutual friend how I counted on Steve for being my rock, especially during troubled times. She responded with great words of wisdom: “Steve laid the foundation for the strength and love you still have today. Stand on it and cherish what you had.” These words kept playing over and over in my mind. I realized that she was right.

For the first time since Steve passed, he visited me in my dreams the other night. In the dream, I saw him at work, but I was afraid to approach him for fear he had forgotten me. Eventually, I walked up to him, and he gave me a huge bear hug with his massive swimmer’s shoulders that enveloped me like a protective cocoon. I collapsed in his arms as he told me he would never forget me. Days later, this dream is still vivid in my mind, and tears are rolling down my face as I write this.

The best of times

Every cloud has a silver lining, and this current storm we are weathering surely will have some. I see it already. As a person with Parkinson’s, I tend to self-isolate, since it is such a struggle to appear “normal” in front of others. Now that self-isolation is a requirement to battle this virus, I find myself craving contact with other humans. Socialization with others is an important therapy for fighting Parkinson’s-induced apathy. When we get to the other side of this crisis, I will definitely plan to socialize more.

If Medicare extends the coverage for telemedicine beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency, it may become the norm for all insurance providers to provide this benefit. For my situation, it eliminates a 60-mile round-trip to see my doctors. Telemedicine can potentially provide me access to top specialists across the country. Two of my doctors just started offering telemedicine visits.

In New York state, over 40,000 healthcare professionals have stepped forward to provide their expertise and assistance during this pandemic. This restores my faith in humanity. We are all in this together, regardless of race, age, or political persuasions.

I truly believe we will come out on the other side of this healthcare crisis better than when we entered it. We will have more compassion for each other, including those species we inhabit this planet with.

How will I get through this?

I am a cancer survivor, twice a suicide loss survivor, and a Parkinson’s fighter. Having these experiences, plus the foundation Steve gave me, will serve me well as I struggle to fight and survive during this turbulent time.

Everyone has crosses they bear in their lives. I believe the strength we build while dealing with past tragedy makes us that much stronger. Sometimes it may not be readily apparent and we must dig deep to find it.

I will survive, once again.

While there’s life, there’s hope.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Sherri avatar


A beautiful, heartfelt, encouraging piece. Thanks for being so vulnerable, Jean.


thank you Sherri

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Beautifully written Jean....keep fighting...rest but never quit!


thank you Lori

Carolyn avatar


Thank you for this powerful message.


Thank YOU Carolyn for taking the time to read my story..

Richard avatar


When our Mom, who I was close with, died from a heart attack I felt shattered and distraught. One night I dreamed she was standing at the foot of the bed chatting with me like we often did. I woke bolt upright fully expecting to see her standing there. It was so real.
I was diagnosed with PD in January 2019 and have been taking Apo-Levocarb 100/25mg 4 times/day. It seems to help for now anyway. Blessings to you Jean.


Blessings to you Richard as well. I have not had any realistic dreams since I posted this article. I do believe our loved ones who have passed try to reach out to us. I am glad you had a pleasant experience.


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