About the Film

Sick Cells Documentary Subject, Marqus Valentine.

Marqus Valentine is a 28-year-old College film student. From the outside, he looks like anyone else. Inside, however, there is a different story taking place. If we were to take a closer look at Marqus’ red blood cells, we would see that they are twisted into odd, c-like shapes.

A slide of Marqus' blood taken when he was in the 5th grade.

Marqus was diagnosed at six months old with a genetic, life-long blood disorder called Sickle Cell Anemia. Since then, Marqus has been in the hospital over a hundred times for multiple Sickle Cell complications including: stroke, lung failure, blood transfusions, surgeries  and for what is considered the worst side effect of living with Sickle Cell Disease—long periods of unending, excruciating pain which doctors and patients call “going into crisis.”

Marqus with his brother Kevin during one of his hospital visits as a child.

Fran Valentine, Marqus’ mother is a Registered Nurse, and after long days at the hospital, her work continues when she goes home and spends countless hours managing Marqus’ treatment, health and bills.

Angelo Valentine, Marqus’ father, is a Union Electrician and has been out of work for over a year. Marqus also has a brother, Kevin, who is currently working in Iraq and a sister, Ashley, who is an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Francesca and Angelo Valentine, newly married, before they knew that they each carried the Sickle Cell Trait.

The Valentines struggle constantly, not only with managing Marqus’ illness and his pain, but also with paying their mortgage and providing what  their family needs to live. There have been times when the choices were between food, medicine, transportation, and housing. Marqus’ life-saving medicine always won.

Marqus with his sister, Ashley, during one of his hospital visits during his high school years.

Sick Cells is the story of one family’s struggle against a genetic fate and their fight for survival fed mainly by their intense love for each other, religious faith and strong sense of humor. They constantly laugh through their tears.

The Valentine family at Marqus' high school graduation.

Sick Cells will talk with the Edward Hospital medical team that helps Marqus live with his Sickle Cell Disease, and will also highlight the stories of other Sickle Cell Disease Sufferers.