Paul Lee finished radiation treatment for prostate cancer in November, only to find himself back in the hospital—where he was able to eventually beat COVID-19 in a hard-won, month-long battle.
After all Paul and his family had been through, their neighbors in Brendonwood, Indianapolis organized a homecoming parade to show their love and support.
On March 16 Paul and his wife, Julie, began to feel sick. They both felt run down, but after a few days, Julie started to get better as Paul just kept feeling worse.
“It moved to where he couldn’t walk and he couldn’t talk and I said to him influenza B doesn’t cause you to not be able to walk or talk,” Julie explained.
About a week after Paul began to show symptoms, Julie took him to the hospital where he was quickly put on a ventilator in an attempt to save his life. He stayed in the hospital for three weeks while his wife and eight children were ordered to quarantine at home.
Neighbors and friends supported the family by providing meals and sending food delivery as the Lee family did their best to cope with their Dad’s absence.
“Nobody could leave to get groceries or dinner, so everyone chipped in and made sure that somebody took them a meal every night,” explained the family’s neighbor, Ami Rice.
Julie said she put up pictures of Paul, “…all around the house, on my bed, on my phone, on my iPad, just because I missed him so much and I just wanted to see his face.”
Due to the dire circumstances of his struggle with COVID-19, the family was only able to FaceTime with Paul a few times.
After several close calls, Paul was finally cleared to return home where he was welcomed by a parade of neighbors and friends waving signs and wishing the family well.
Karen Cumings, one of the neighbors who helped organize the parade recalled, “I said ‘we’ve got to do something for Paul. We need to give him a ticker-tape parade or something that’s going to make him feel better and welcome him back home because he deserves it after struggling with cancer originally and now the coronavirus.'”
Neighbors parked on either side of the road, holding up homemade signs and making noise with cowbells, cheering for Julie and Paul as the couple drove by.
“It was overwhelming in such a happy way. I know there are a lot of families that are getting to have these kinds of celebrations,” Rice said.
Julie agreed, ”It was overwhelming, but overwhelming in such a happy, happy way.”
“I almost wanted to go back and take another loop through because there were people there I had no idea were going to be there, and it was amazing.”
As Indiana has reported 12,097 cases of COVID-19 and 630 deaths, the story of Paul’s recovery and his neighborhood’s support inspires hope.
Paul continues to recover at home with his family while doctors monitor his condition remotely.