Early June 2017, Valerie began to feel like she was getting a virus. Her primary physician ran several tests and prescribed steroids, but the symptoms persisted and began to require her to modify her daily activities. On a weekend excursion to Chicago, where Valerie loves to spend time along the lake, she found herself winded after walking just a few blocks and having a stop a few times on the drive home. Along with the shortness of breath, she was experiencing migraine-like head pain, a cough, red itchy eyes and a sore on her tongue. While she didn't know what was happening, she knew that her body was fighting something that she wouldn't be able to push through on her own. On Wednesday , June 28th, after realizing that she would not be able to continue the work day successfully, she saw her primary physician again who ordered a chest x-ray and blood work.
No sooner had Valerie gotten back to her house than the doctor called and insisted that Valerie head immediately to the hospital and admit herself. Her blood work came back severely abnormal, and dangerous levels were indicated. “Pack a small bag. Don’t speed, but get there as soon as possible,” the doctor said as calmly as possible. By noon that day, based solely on the blood work, the "c" word was tossed around and they planned a bone marrow biopsy. The following morning, a doctor confirmed that preliminary tests indicated leukemia. Over the next few days, Valerie would come to learn that she had Acute Myelomonocytic Leukemia Subtype M4. Rather than celebrating with a cookout and fireworks, Valerie spent July 4th undergoing outpatient surgery to have a chemo port implanted on the left side of her chest in order for chemo treatments to begin on July 5th.