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Indiana woman marks 100th birthday after surviving COVID-19, beating cancer and living through WWII

A 100-year-old Indiana woman who has lived through World War II, survived cancer and successfully battled her way back from a bout of pneumonia last year, learned earlier this month that she’s also a survivor of COVID-19.

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Leora Martin of Elkhart found out a week before her birthday on June 13 that she had tested negative for the virus after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in April — one of 76 residents at her assisted living facility to be infected. She and her twin sister, Delora Bloomingdale, who lives in California, celebrated their birthdays as centenarians and Leora’s recovery while conversing through Zoom.


Leora and her twin sister, Delora Bloomingdale, of California, have a Zoom chat on their birthdays.

“It was sort of a relief,” Martin told The Elkhart Truth of her recovery. “You have to remember, I’ve been through cancer. I had to go to the hospital for five days with rods in my body –- that was not comfortable, but I survived. They didn’t think I would survive pneumonia last year either, but I did.”

Marilou Snell, Martin's daughter, said her mother was mostly asymptomatic, showing slight signs of appetite loss and exhaustion. She noted that Greenleaf Health Campus, the assisted living facility where Martin resides, was on lockdown so she couldn't visit her mother in person.


Leora celebrated her 100th birthday with staff from Greenleaf Health Campus and her family.

“We were all pretty devastated when we found out she tested positive,” Snell added. “You read and hear all these terrible things and of course right away you fear the worst, so it was really hard.”

Snell said her family's religious faith gave them solace while also knowing Martin was in good care.

“It was a really tough time, but the staff at Greenleaf were wonderful,” Snell said. “They updated us with phone calls, text messages with what was going on. It was just very comforting to know that she had health care people around her 24/7. Also, just giving it over to God helped a lot too. He calmed us and said it was in his hands and he took care of it.”

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Snell said her mother remains vivacious and sharp. During her birthday, Leora happily held a sign that read “COVID-19 can’t stop me from turning 100.”


Leora and her family celebrating her 100th and beating COVID-19 outside Greenleaf Health Campus.

Her secret to living a long life? "Keep moving,” Martin said. “Also, keep loving other people."

Greenleaf also celebrated last week. Staff members on Friday said the assisted living facility is officially free of the coronavirus.