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I am trying to work on a watercolor this afternoon, after a long morning of pain. I have taken all the pain pills I can possibly take, probably more than I should, and I am upright in front of my paints. I am working on a watercolor of Lucca, Italy – depicting a rainy spring day. I loved the reflections I saw in the cobblestone streets.

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My fingers barely co-operate because they are fuzzy with neuropathy. My fingertips feel as if they are sound asleep, or just starting to wake up. It hurts a little to hold the brush, but I am determined to do something other than lie in bed today. Besides, when I paint, I feel God’s presence because He made me an artist, and He delights in my using the gifts He has given me.

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I lay down a layer of bright yellow, which reminds me of cheery days and dear friends in Italy. Then I add a raw umber layer to give the buildings a rosy glow. The yellows aren’t quite yellow on the buildings, unless they are mustard yellow.

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I awkwardly push my brush, with my numb fingers, to move the water and paint to places I’d like it to go. “You can do this.” I cheer my fingers on. I’ll let those two layers dry, and then go back, with my clumsy fingers, and try to add more nuanced layers.

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I’ve been taking natural substances orally, and rubbing essential oils onto my fingertips and toes, to help relieve the neuropathy. I’m not sure of much success. I think it just takes time to go away. Not all chemo causes this, but my type of chemo does. I was hoping my hands might be spared, but that was not to be.

If I complete this painting during these months of chemo, it will be a miracle. Truly.