Dearest Friends,
It has been such a long time since I have written to you and I am very sorry to have taken so long. I have finished 22 of my 30 radiation treatments. If all goes according to plan, my last treatment will be on July 25th. I have had some light sunburn like coloring on my skin, but it isn't bad at all. They give us a gel to put on the burn to soothe it and it is helpful. I have been in physical therapy to gain strength and range of motion in both arms and legs, which have become weak. I still use my cane, but I am doing much better. On July 1st, I have to go to out-patient surgery to have my port-a-cath inserted into the inside area of my left arm. It looks like a bump in the skin's surface and the nurses will be able to give me my chemo, as well as fluids and draw blood from it without sticking anymore veins! On July 2nd, I start chemo, which I am dreading. My tests all show that my heart can take the stronger chemo drugs, so thats a good thing, but to be on the safe side, they have decided to stretch my chemo sessions from 8 to 16. The first four sessions are two weeks apart and the remaining 12 are one week apart. I'll have two drugs administered for those first four sessions and only one drug the last 12 sessions. It is this last drug that is pretty strong and it will be easier on me if they give me lighter doses each time instead of big doses.

I have full blown lymphedema in my right arm and for the last four weeks have had to have massages and then special wrapping to keep the swelling down. I've qualified for grants to pay for the permanent sleeves and gloves I will wear later. I've been measured and they are ordered. Just waiting for them to come. The night sleeve is burgundy and looks like a big oven mitt that covers my hand to my shoulder. The day sleeve has a black glove and a snazzy black and pink tie dye design on it. It is rather shocking at what these cost. $750 for the night sleeve and $200 for the day sleeve and glove! I will wear them for the rest of my life. I also must do a special massage each day, too, to help the lymph flow under my skin.

A couple of weeks ago, John came to me about 2:00 a.m. and could hardly breathe. I called an ambulance and with lights and sirens, he arrived at the hospital, where he spent three nights. Diagnosis: Congestive Heart Failure. It was building for some time but it is in the early stages and he has a cardiologist and three prescriptions to take. I couldn't drive to see him, so we communicated by phone. He came home by taxi and I was overjoyed and relieved to see him. He quit smoking cold turkey and is doing well, thank God!

I have between one and four appointments every business day and the treatments are tiring. It will become more so during chemo. I usually fall asleep some time between 3 and 4 in the afternoon and wake about 7 or 8. I eat dinner and shortly later am back in bed for the night. Such and exciting life!!! LOL

I am extremely grateful for all your good thoughts and prayers during my "absence". I hate being gone, but between the schedule I have and this stupid lymphedema wrap that covers my hand all the way up to my armpit (right arm, of course), artwork is severely limited. BUT, I do have lots of ideas rolling around in my head. When the wrap comes off and I get my slim and trim real sleeve and glove, I think I will have more dexterity. If so, off I go with the artwork as much as possible.

I miss you all so much! Joyce, your hug afghan will be with me for all chemo treatments. Beth, the beautiful hat you sent to me will be in use probably by the second week in July cause all my hair is going to fall out with the chemo treatments. The rest of you (Mila, Regina, Marge, Kitchen Table Crafts, Susan, Albert, and the rest of you lovely people) will be with me in spirit.

My love to you all,
Victoria