The future terrified Nancy until a doctor gave her life-changing advice: NPR

Nancy Pardo and her husband Tom.

Nancy Pardo

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Nancy Pardo

The future terrified Nancy until a doctor gave her life-changing advice: NPR

Nancy Pardo and her husband Tom.

Nancy Pardo

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, by the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

In 2015, Nancy Pardo and her husband, Tom, spent a few days hiking in a national park in Maine. One morning, while they were walking on a path, Tom fainted. Later that day, he passed out again.

They went straight to the local hospital, where doctors carried out several tests but could not figure out why Tom had passed out. So Tom and Nancy were sent on their way.

They left the hospital and started walking, looking for a place to have lunch. When they stopped outside a restaurant to look at a menu, Tom passed out again. And this time it was much worse.

“He came down harder and stayed out longer,” Nancy recalled.

Strangers appeared and called 911, and Nancy and Tom returned to the same hospital, where they remained for several days. From there, they were transferred to the largest hospital in the area, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, so that Tom could undergo a more complicated procedure – cardiac catheterization. This would allow his doctors to determine if Tom had any blockages, which could explain the fainting spells.

But as before, the medical team found no obvious problem. For Tom and Nancy, the uncertainty was terrifying.

“I was very scared,” Nancy said. “And the next morning, when the doctor came to release us, I asked him, ‘What do we do now?'”

She assumed he would suggest another test or another specialist. But he said no such thing.

“Dr. Isidore Okere, who I will remember all my life, told us, ‘Go live your life,'” Nancy recalls. “It wasn’t in a flippant way. It was his advice to us.”

And that’s what they did. Despite two bouts of cancer since 2008, Tom is doing well and walking more than five miles a day. And Dr. Isidore Okere continues to work at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, in Bangor, Maine, where he is a cardiologist.

“Now we follow Dr Okere’s advice as often as possible, trying not to be afraid,” Nancy said. “And to go live our lives.”

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast – new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share your unsung hero’s story with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to


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