CAMDEN, NJ — When she received a breast cancer diagnosis last October Diamonique Valentine said that she and her husband, Marcus, got into a routine — their very own stay-at-home rules that are not so different from the self-quarantine mandates currently in place across the entire state.
“We’ve been doing this for a while now and as of a month and a half ago just had to take everything to another level,” Diamonique, 28, told TAPinto Camden.
“It’s, of course, made things harder during treatment,” she continued. “Not just because my husband couldn’t go in with me to receive chemo after a certain point, but because I can’t be around family. Not being able to see them is not easy.”
Wanting to lift her spirits, Marcus, 30, coordinated with Diamonique’s sister, Bryanna Carr, to set up a motorcade last week as she finished her sixteenth and final round of chemotherapy.
“It was a magical moment for me,” said Diamonique, who could be seen choking up. “I was excited to see who I would see next as they drove by.”
More than 25 vehicles joined in the lineup, including members of the Winslow Township Police department.
“Just to see the people closest to her meant a lot,” Marcus said, who captured the moment in a video (above). “She can’t hug, or touch them of course, so she waved.”
Marcus, who jokingly described himself as Diamonique’s “bodyguard,” said it was somewhat tough at first to accept he couldn’t be with his wife during treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.
“I’d drop her off and we’d later connect over the phone or on FaceTime,” he said. “She'd know I was there.”
At home, Marcus has steadily worked to clean everything that enters their downtown Camden home. He handles trips to the grocery store and house visits are of course not on the table for the time being.
For the next two or three weeks, Diamonique will recover from chemotherapy at home.
“The next step is surgery,” she explained. “[However,] since I’ve only been ordered to have a single mastectomy it’s considered elective. I plan to have both done but since my situation is considered elective my surgery was pushed from the beginning of May, which we were shooting for."
Her surgery will now be set for the end of May — a date that may change based on how the pandemic evolves.
The Valentines also own Renewed Nutrition, a local healthy food business — which was located on Market Street until February when it became mobile-based.
“Diamonique’s health has of course taken priority, but we’re also getting ready for once we're back,” Marcus added. “I’ve also been home cooking for her since her diet is restricted and normally sticks to plant-based food anyway.”
The couple has also worked to establish a routine - exercising when possible, praying, watching movies, and working on puzzles together.
What keeps the couple hopeful?
“Knowing that this won't last forever,” Diamonique said. “Knowing that it’s not the end and better days are ahead.”