“CHICAGO — The day before his 30th birthday, Marqus Valentine was in a panic. “I was so scared for midnight to come rolling around because subconsciously I was like, ‘This is it. Tomorrow’s my last day on Earth,’” he said.
“Valentine has sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder, and his doctors had warned him throughout his life that he was not likely to make it to 30.
“That birthday passed without event, and so have four more. Still, Valentine’s disease has left him severely disabled and ill. “Instead of 34, I feel like I’m 68, just with all the stuff I’ve been through,” he said.
“He uses a portable oxygen tank, needs a hip replacement and sleeps in a hospital bed on the first floor of his parents’ house — he is in too much pain to make it up the stairs to his bedroom. And an early death still looms: “I could wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, eat breakfast and by the time afternoon comes rolling around, I could possibly be dead.””
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