104-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Recovers from Coronavirus

May 3, 2020

Ida Acconciamessa is being hailed as a superhero.

Not only has the 104-year-old survived stage 4 melanoma, recovered from two broken hips, and lived through the Spanish Flu, but she also beat coronavirus.

"We really didn't think she was going to be able to pull through this," her daughter, 77-year-old Barbara Senese, told CBS News recalling her mother’s grim condition.

"She wasn't even able to speak. She was lifeless. And now she's eating. She's talking,” she added.

Senese said that once her mother got sick, she and her sister, Johann Giordano, could no longer make their daily visits.

She recalled last seeing her mother in person at the Sheepshead Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York on March 26. Even then, the meeting wasn’t face-to-face but through a window looking into her first floor room.

At that point, Senese knew something was wrong with her mother.

"They brought her to us in a wheelchair by the window. The window was open just a tiny bit so she could hear our voices," Senese said. "She didn't move a muscle and she stared at us. Just a stare. I don't think I'll ever forget that — ever. We were begging her for 10 to 15 minutes to say something. She said nothing. When we walked away, I said to my sister, she's sick. She has the virus."

Senese’s senses were right. On April 4, a social worker called and informed them that their mother tested positive for the novel virus.

At first, her mother’s symptoms manifested with a very bad cough before rapidly declining. "If we tried to call, she didn't have the strength to take [the phone] off the cradle to speak to us. She sometimes would just say, 'Too weak, too weak. can't talk.'"

Video chatting wasn’t any better as Senese said she was “out of it” most of the time explaining she had her “eyes closed, in a bed no response.”

Due to Acconciamessa’s age, recent illnesses, and the fact that the elderly are more at-risk for the novel virus, the family prepared for the worst.

However, in a surprising twist, on April 24, Senese got the call that her mother’s health improved and she was doing “much, much better.”

Workers at the facility were impressed with Acconciamessa’s recovery calling it a “miracle” at her age especially with many young and middle-age adults succumbing to the virus.

Senese wasn’t as surprised by her mother’s strength, though. She said she’s always been a fighter with a “positive attitude.”

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