Virginia Heffernan was raised on a farm near Cashion, Oklahoma. After graduating from St. Anthony’s nursing school, she went on to serve our country in the United States Air Force. While at Brooks AFB in San Antonio, graduated from flight nurse school.
Virginia met the love of her life while stationed at Lejas Field, Azores. They married 3 months later at Andrew’s AFB chapel. They spent 46-year wonderful years together, most of which was spent serving in the Air Force, until he passed in 2006. They were blessed with 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
Throughout her career, Virginia spent 55 years working as a nurse. Her favorite job was spent working as an oncology nurse at Ft. Sill. She retired from Civil Service in 2001 and nursing 2009. Virginia says, “nursing was very rewarding to me and I never regretted a day of choosing that career.”
Virginia started experiencing shaking in her leg in 2005 and started her journey with neurologists. It was not until 2015 after a visit with a third neurologist that she got the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and essential tremors. Virginia stated that there is a family history of Parkinson’s. Her great-grandfather and aunt were diagnosed with Parkinson’s and she believes that her dad who had essential tremors had Parkinson’s as well.
Boxing was her favorite form of exercise pre-covid. She broke her arm during the pandemic, so she is having to adjust what she does. Like most people, covid has interfered with her being able to attend support groups and other exercise groups. Virginia has always counted her Loud Crowd © and Parkinson’s support group among her biggest support system.
When asked what advice she would give a newly diagnosed person, she said, “Keep going. Attend support groups, exercise and be social with other organizations.” Virginia states she does not really have bad days when she can not function. She simply sticks to her own advice and just keeps going. “Virginia is a delightful person! She transcends the challenges of Parkinson’s with joy and encouragement for others,” said Bruce McIntyre, Executive Director of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma.
Like most Parkinson’s people, it has altered Virginia’s lifestyle to a degree. “Parkinson’s has changed me. I still move well, my equilibrium is a little off, but I do most of the things I like to do. Driving my car, making quilts, attending Eastern Star and my meetings. I also do general cooking and house activities. And of course, I have my dog, my cat, and my son and family are across the street. In general, I cannot complain as I am 85 years old and do not feel a day over 40!”