Valisia LeKae received a life-changing phone call from her gynecologist on De- cember 2, 2013. Picking up the phone, she assumed he was ringing her to check on how she was recovering post surgery — after all, she had a 6-centimeter cyst removed from her abdomen only 10 days prior — but he wasn’t. “He told me that the cyst had come back positive for ovarian cancer,” she says. Shocked and in disbelief, she asked him if he was sure.
LeKae was born in 1979 to a family of “creative people” in Memphis, Tennessee. She had always dreamed of becoming a star, but in the days preceding American Idol it was a rather difficult goal to accomplish. “There was Star Search with Ed McMahon, and maybe once every few years he would come through our town,” recalls LeKae. “I wanted to be the next Aretha [or] Whitney Houston. And so I needed to get to New York to do that.”
Growing up, the young starlet in the making took every possible opportunity to be in the spotlight. When she couldn’t sing in church or participate in school plays, she would rally the student body at various events as the school mascot or drive to nearby theme parks to per- form in various shows. From Libertyland to Dollywood, LeKae delighted the crowds with her performances, often up to five times a day.
Although singing was her passion, she still worked toward earning a degree in child psychology, with a minor in family studies at the University of Tennessee. Never losing sight of her objective, she applied to be a USO Girl with the USO Show Troupe of metropolitan New York during her senior year of college. Even though her application was late, she was invited to audition in the Big Apple and was later accepted. “Up till today, it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she states.
PQ: As researchers look deeper into it, it turns out that tuning our brain waves to the planet’s pulse is not only healthful (as tuning out is unhealthful) for us, but it might be connected to the beginning of life itself.