Valley woman survives COVID-19, sharing a stern message for others

A valley woman is speaking out after surviving a long and painful battle with the coronavirus

Ruth Sanchez thinks she contracted the virus overseas and by the time she got back home, she was in a battle for very her life.

She is better now and gaining strength day by day. She tested positive for COVID-19 twice, but now has a clean bill of heath.

“It felt like ice picks stabbing my lungs,” Sanchez said as she described the virus's effect on her body. “There was one day when I thought I might not make it.“

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Ruth works at the nonprofit "Project Cure," acquiring medical supplies for poor areas overseas and at home in America. That’s why she went to Africa last month.

Then on the way home, during a pit stop in Paris, somehow, that's where she believes she got it.

“You’re just shocked. You’re traumatized by the news,” she said of the moment she learned of her diagnoses.

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The symptoms can range from a sore throat, uncontrollable coughing, a high fever and fatigue. Sanchez said she had the feeling of ice picks poking her lungs, stealing her ability to breathe. She also experienced no smell or taste.

She says it was three weeks of torture before she saw the light. “Finally one day I had a coughing fit for an hour and it was like my lungs were saying get the virus out of me," Sanchez said.

She's back at work and more determined than ever to help others.

That’s why she leaves us all with this important message: “This is bad. You do not want to get it. You do not want anyone you know to get it."

Sanchez says she was impressed with the Arizona Department of Health Services. They took her flight information to help notify everyone on board that they may have been exposed.

They also led her to a Salvation Army registry where she is now signed up to donate the virus antibodies in the hope of creating treatments or finding a cure.