For Penticton’s Nancy Browne (left), seeing her 86-year-old mother recover from COVID-19 was a sign that there is hope. Pictured about is Nancy Browne, Betty Jukes and Kim Tully on a Skype call. (Supplied)

COVID-19 ‘not a death sentence’ says B.C. woman after seeing senior mother recover

Cancer, blindness, a fractured hip, dementia, and COVID-19 not enough to bring Betty Jukes down

For Penticton’s Nancy Browne, seeing her 86-year-old mother recover from COVID-19 was a sign that there is hope.

Despite countless battles with her health, Betty Jukes continues to defy the odds.

The Bobcaygeon, Ont. resident has been through more in the past several months than most have in their entire lives, beating COVID-19 while simultaneously battling cancer in both her neck and lungs, blindness, a fractured hip, and dementia.

“She’s 86 years old,” said Browne. “I guess you can’t have eight kids without becoming real tough.”

Now that the dust has settled, Browne says it’s important for people to know that COVID-19 is not an automatic death sentence.

“I think the good news about this whole story is, first when you hear (of) somebody that’s over 80 years old and they get COVID, you automatically think it’s a death sentence. That’s what we thought, but I think it’s important for people to know that it’s not necessarily a death sentence,” explained Browne.

“There is good news.”

READ MORE: After living with horrible pain for nearly a year, Coalmont woman anticipates surgery

Despite being more than 4,000 kilometres away, Browne has managed to connect with her mother through virtual calls, although she admitted it’s hard to not be with her during these trying times.

From her living room in Penticton, Browne talks with her mother on her iPad daily. Although virtual calls are not the same as in-person conversations, Browne said they are always cherished.

“Whether we have one more day with her, one more week, month, year or more we are blessed to have been given this extra time with her,” said Browne.

In November, Browne flew back to Ontario to visit her mother. At this point, Jukes was still living on her own. Although dementia was starting to creep in, Jukes was adamant about not living in a nursing home.

Together, Browne and her sister Kim Tully, who lives in Ontario, worked to accommodate their legally-blind mother, but things were taken out of their hands Dec. 1 when Jukes fractured her hip.

COVID-19 in Canada
Infogram

Nurses warned the sisters during the first two weeks of December that their mother would likely not recover from the surgery, or the anesthetics, due to her dementia.

“They might last two to six weeks, maybe three months,” said Browne.

At the same time, cat scans revealed cancer in Jukes’ lungs.

About three weeks after her hip surgery, Tully said enough was enough, and committed to staying with her every day.

“She (mom) was pretty much laying in bed going bathroom in the bed, and stuff like that. And she was used to walking all over the place,” explained Browne.

Tully was with her mother at the hospital from when she woke up in the morning, until she fell asleep again at night, leaving only to make meals for the two of them.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: B.C. puts cap on number of vehicles at outdoor drive-in events

Come the middle of February, Jukes was still in hospital. At this point, her dementia was becoming increasingly worse.

However, Tully was able to take Jukes back to Bobcaygoen where she cared for her in her apartment.

“She overcame the hip surgery, and defied those odds, she came out of it,” said Browne.

On March 23, Jukes fell in the apartment, and Tully couldn’t get her up. Fearing she had broken her hip again, they called the ambulance.

“After falling and stuff, she maybe was sweating and nauseated or whatever, and they put her on the COVID floor,” explained Browne.

When she arrived at the hospital, further cat scans revealed more cancer in Jukes’ neck.

An infection in her neck prompted antibiotics. According to the family, a week later, a test for COVID-19 came back positive.

“So then we’re thinking… this is it. Because we heard all the stories on the news about all these old people dying, and needing ventilators,” said Browne.

“My sister and I, oh my God, we spent so many hours bawling our eyes out, thinking we’re never going to see her again.”

Jukes, at that point, was alone in the hospital due to visitor restrictions, with dementia worsened even more.

Because of this, the sisters were extremely worried their mother wouldn’t regularly eat, or go to the bathroom.

“So once she got diagnosed with COVID, we thought sure, she was a goner. And then they put her on oxygen, and then we’re really thinking… she’s never going to come out of this,” said Browne.

Amazingly, Browne explained, after two weeks of being on oxygen, they managed to take Jukes off of it.

Her health at this point was rapidly declining. She lost the ability to feed herself, and nurses took over this responsibility.

But the 86-year-old was resilient; six weeks later, after multiple tests, Jukes’ tests for COVID-19 came back negative.

“My God, she overcame that,” said Browne. “She is so strong willed.”

On Sunday, May 17, Jukes came home to Bobcaygeon.

“No, you don’t have to panic thinking your loved one is going to die in the hospital all by themselves, because they could get over it,” said Browne. “There’s a lot of factors I guess, but I mean, she’s so strong-willed, there was no way she was dying.

“When my mom’s time comes to go, I think she should be carried off in a golden chariot… she’s been through so much in her lifetime.”

Public Health Ontario has not yet confirmed this information. The Western News has reached out to the health authority for comment.

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket Greater Victoria again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon but not approach levels reached a few weeks ago

Former Victoria Royals manager celebrates Stanley Cup win

Grant Armstrong is now an amateur scout with Tampa Bay Lightning

PHOTOS: Killer whales make rare visit into Ladysmith Harbour

Orca pod inspires some fine photography

Tofino considers beach fire ban after tumultuous summer

Fires popping up where they aren’t allowed, and not properly cared for where they are

Editorial: Shake of the fatigue and bring this pandemic march home

With the finish line getting closer, don’t let up in the battle against COVID-19

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Protesters blockade log-sort operation at Nanaimo’s Duke Point

Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo demands an end to all old-growth logging in B.C.

Float-plane crash near Oyster River leaves pilot injured

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from a private property and had no other passengers on board

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Sooke, Sidney businesses win top awards during the BC Food and Beverage Awards

Sheringham Distillery won Gold Award for Product of Year while Cascadia Seaweed won Innovation Award

Chorus expands online options to in-person rehearsal in Langford, Oak Bay

Free, non-auditioned SingYourJoy recruits those aged 16 to 29

Most Read