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100-year-old woman describes surviving COVID-19

Lena May Shaw, a 100-year-old woman from Raeford, shares the story of her battle with COVID-19. To what does she attribute her longevity, happiness and quick healing?

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Bryan Mims
, WRAL reporter
RAEFORD, N.C. — Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen how senior citizens are especially vulnerable to infection. Nursing homes have been hot spots, and many elderly patients have died.

But a Raeford woman, who's lived through a lot in her century of life, said she wasn't about to let COVID-19 have the last word.

She shared a few feisty words about her experience battling COVID-19.

On a muggy summer day, the back door creaked as Lena May Shaw gripped her walker. Nice and easy, she stepped toward the chair under the pecan tree to tell her story.

Loud and clear, she began, saying, "Yes sir!"

She feels alright today.

"They said I had that virus," she said. "Yep, I ain't hurtin' nowhere!"

Given she was just in the hospital for more than four days with COVID-19, that's an amazing feat.

Did having the virus scare her, though? No.

"It didn't scare me nowhere. God was with me. Nothing but god. I ain't been sick nowhere," she said.

Still, having turned 100 years old in February, Shaw is very much in that high-risk age group.

A couple of weeks back, her great niece, Cori Walker, noticed that Shaw sounded weaker than she normally did.

"She wasn't as loud and boisterous like she normally is," said Walker. For a woman as feisty as Shaw, that was unusual.

Shaw was running a fever and feeling awfully weak. Then, she tested positive for COVID – the result her great niece had dreaded.

Walker was terrified. She said she called 911 to come get Shaw, feeling panicked.

The family believed she got it from one of her home caregivers, who also tested positive.

When the ambulance carried Shaw to Moore Regional, the family couldn't help but think that they might lose her.

"She's the matriarch of the family," said Walker.

But the way Lena May Shaw saw it, good living and hard praying go a long way.

"Nothing but God. I've depended on God. He brought me too far to leave me," she said bravely.

Shaw, the last surviving sibling, still lives in the same house she's called home since the 1930s. She never had kids, and her husband passed away 55 years ago.

But she's never gone lonely, which is why she says God has kept her around so long. She still fries cornbread. Still cleans house.

She attributes her longevity and happiness to "the love I give people, taking care of children, cooking, taking care of all my nieces and nephews," she said.

"I can't sit still now. I can't sit still now. I've got to be doing something," she said.

Her family calls her an "amazing woman."

The back door creaks back open. Shaw finishes her story about the battle with COVID-19 and moves on to something else.

Go on in, Miss Lena May Shaw. You've got so much yet to do.

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