Cancer survivor designs the beauty of parks, life
Lori Vierow of Elmhurst is an award-winning architectural designer who recently joined the Arlington Heights office of GreenbergFarrow, a global architecture and engineering firm.
As senior landscape architect, she will help to expand the firm's landscape architecture department and work with clients nationwide and overseas. One upcoming project includes redesigning the monument sign area for Chicago Executive Airport in Prospect Heights and Wheeling.
Over the years, she has designed parks and recreational facilities, including Longfellow Park in Oak Park and Firefighter's Park in New Lenox. Such opportunities became possible because of her love of the outdoors and surviving cancer.
"It's been a fun and great industry, especially working with the municipalities, that's always great. Who doesn't like to design a park?" said Vierow, 47.
Vierow, who was born in Chicago was raised in Naperville, started her career as an architect. But her love for the outdoors lured her to a career in landscape architecture, starting with Clarence Davids & Co. with offices in Ingleside, Matteson and Plainfield, and then for Planning Resources in Wheaton. As a landscape architect, she would design the area and other workers would do the installation.
But in June 2014, she started noticing some unexplained bruising on her legs. She didn't have any pain, but medical tests showed she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, known as ALL. She underwent chemo and full-body radiation with several trips to the hospital and various prescriptions. But her key treatment was a stem cell transplant. Her brother, Brian McCall, was a match and his stem cells were harvested and put in her body.
The stem cell transplant was like rebooting her immune system. But then she had to stay at a hotel specially designated by the hospital that has a high-level of cleaning and a 24-hour caregiver.
She was not allowed to return home to her small children for 100 days. That was because of the high probability that the kids could get her sick and it could lead to complications during her recovery. She finally returned home in December 2014, she said.
Since then, she has been cancer free and returns every six months for checkups. She also takes vitamin D, she said.
She has also helped at her husband Bob Vierow's farm, called Bob's Fresh & Local, which is part of community supported agriculture. That means the community buys a share of the harvest, and Bob, the farmer, provides the shareholder with the vegetables grown organically from his harvest. It also continues to fit Lori Vierow's love of the outdoors.
She said, "I am getting stronger every day and I am very happy to be back working and designing outdoor spaces."
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