Atlanta News First’s chief meteorologist Jennifer Valdez will return Dec. 12 after colon surgery

She was off air for five weeks.

Atlanta News First’s chief meteorologist Jennifer Valdez will return on air Monday after recuperating from colon surgery Nov. 2.

Valdez, who has worked as a meteorologist for the CBS affiliate (now WANF-TV, formerly WGCL-TV) for 14 years and became chief in 2019, said she had suffered from colon-related illness diverticulitis dozens of times over the past 20 years. A part of her colon was prone to infection and she’d require antibiotics. “I’d end up in severe pain and fever,” she said.

Just this year alone, she had to be hospitalized three times. Doctors told her she had to get a portion of her colon removed to stop this from happening again so she chose elective surgery Nov. 2, despite feeling just fine.

“It was a ticking time bomb I had to address,” Valdez said. “I was always afraid my colon would rupture, which could be life or death.”

Credit: Atl

Credit: Atl

The invasiveness of the surgery was comparable to a C-section, she said. As a result, she couldn’t move for a couple of weeks and had trouble eating. Five weeks later, she said she is ready to get back to work and was just glad she didn’t really miss any severe weather.

This is the second time in less than three years Valdez, who is 42, has had serious surgery. In 2020, she missed several weeks of work due to artificial disc replacement surgery. Valdez said she had a deteriorating disk in her lower back and avoided getting it fixed for years as a busy working mom with two kids.

Before the surgery, she went years unable to do the dishes or pick anything up from the floor. The surgery, she said, was a rousing success and she can move around now like any normal person.

“These two surgeries had nothing to do with each other,” she said. “Just genetics.”

On top of that, she’s grateful to “live in a big city with great medical care. I also have great insurance and great doctors.”

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