Our dear friend Val Gaglione (Brentano) has the kind of voice you could never forget. Husky and Bronx, her voice stands out in any crowd. And she loves to talk, telling and retelling life stories rich in detail, especially about growing up in Morris Park, the Bronx. She takes great pride in her ability to playfully “bust balls”—and always gets away with it because she is so good at it, and her victims can’t help but laugh.
Three summers ago Val started having ear problems and went to 4 different ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors. All 4 doctors told her she had “seasonal” allergies and to take local honey along with antihistamines.
At the time, Val was happily driving a school bus in Garrison, NY. Her bus, #10, was known as the Purple Route and all the children who were lucky enough to be on her route were treated daily with warm smiles, sweet words, and great tunes. Val hooked her Ipod up to the bus speaker so the kids could unwind to and from school with their favorite songs. But the fun didn’t stop there. Every holiday, including Flag day, was celebrated with wreaths, decorations, and presents from Val’s “treasure chest” for all of “her” kids. Birthdays were also a big event: each child was serenaded with a birthday medley of songs and received a special gift.
When she could, Val picked up extra runs, such as Forest Day. Her job that day was to shuttle grades K-8th to the local forest along with another bus. But all the kids, especially those not lucky enough to on Val’s daily route, were vying to get on the Purple bus and not the other bus! The moms, monitors, and teachers enjoyed being shuttled on Purple bus that day as well.
Unfortunately, that summer of 2014 when Val found herself suffering symptoms of some undiagnosed condition, she did not have health insurance. The bus company she drove for did not offer employees health benefits. She implored her boss to consider providing health insurance, but he refused. Instead he fired her because she was sick.
A month and a half later, in November 2014, Val collapsed one morning and woke up a week later in the ICU only to be told her diagnosis: lung cancer that metastasized to her brain. She was given less than a year to live. Two and a half years later, after 6 rounds of chemo, multiple rounds of radiation, and 18 months of immunotherapy, Val is still breaking our chops with her one-of-a-kind Bronx accent, thank God.
But while Val spent the last 2 and a half years valiantly fighting cancer, her disease has also rendered her unable to work and wiped out her savings. And every time she thinks she may have kicked cancer’s ass and may be able to finally get back to work, something worrisome shows up on the MRI scan that squashes all her plans to get back to some kind of normal living. And now she is about to undergo a third round of brain radiation. Please keep Val in your thoughts and prayers as she faces this next step in treatment over the next few weeks.
This GoFundMe page is being created to help Val get back on her feet financially. Even though she has been working since she was 14 years old and paying taxes all these years, "the system" is not holding up its end of the bargain and is not taking care of Val, and she is racking up unpaid medical bills.
Val has been such an inspiration to us all with her strong, Bronx fighter attitude and ability to laugh in the face of cancer we want to help her focus on her battle with cancer and alleviate the financial pressure that is an ongoing worry for her as cancer has robbed her of her livelihood and savings. Please keep Val in your prayers donate what you can to help our friend in need.