Malikah Weston

Malikah Weston counted on her health benefits to help her deal with anxiety during the pandemic—and survive a brain tumor.

As a Direct Care Counselor at the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, Malikah Weston has cared for people with developmental disabilities for more than 10 years. “I love what I do, knowing the people I care for will be able to do more,” she explains. And when she needed help, she knew she could rely on her Benefit Fund’s health coverage.

Struggling Through the Pandemic

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malikah began to suffer from anxiety and nightly panic attacks that made it hard to sleep or breathe. “Everything was changing so quickly,” she says. “It was very difficult to learn exactly what was going on, or even just to find personal protective equipment.” A short time later, she lost her brother, with whom she had been extremely close, deepening her distress. Malikah knew she needed help and began therapy sessions—first virtually through Teladoc and later in person—that helped her cope and end the anxiety attacks.

Then less than two months after her daughter, Serenity, was born last spring, Malikah was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her doctors told her she needed surgery immediately or would lose sight in at least one eye—and that the situation could be life-threatening. “I was so scared,” Malikah remembers. “It could have been deadly, but my recovery was great. I shocked everyone by being back at work so quickly. I’m extremely grateful for my benefits!”

Nothing can stop you from being who you are destined to be. Especially with your 1199SEIU benefits!

Malikah Weston

Direct Care Counselor, Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State

Caring for Herself so She Can Care for Others

Since both diabetes and high blood pressure run in her family, Malikah carefully monitors her health. She walks 30 minutes each day in a nearby park and is thinking about taking up jogging again, which she used to do in high school. She’s careful about what she eats, too, avoiding salt, eating salads, swapping out soda for water, and making smoothies with cantaloupe, mango, spinach and kale.

Despite all of the challenges she faced, Malikah continued to pursue her dream of one day becoming a case manager or behavioral specialist. Using her training and education benefits, she graduated last June with honors and a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the New York City College of Technology.

Meanwhile, Malikah continues to enjoy helping those she cares for live healthy, productive lives. She admits it was a struggle to overcome her physical and emotional hurdles, but she says with a smile, “Nothing can stop you from being who you are destined to be. Especially with your 1199SEIU benefits!”

What Do Your Benefits Mean to You?

You count on your health benefits to support you in your efforts to stay healthy, whether it’s by getting regular checkups, keeping a chronic condition under control or just improving your lifestyle in general. But has there ever been a time when your health coverage literally saved your life or the life of a loved one? If so, we’d like to hear from you. To share your story with your fellow members in an upcoming issue of For Your Benefit, please contact the Funds at [email protected].

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