by Glenn Russell Borken
My name is Glenn Russell Borken. I would like to tell you about my little sister.
Sometimes, prayers are answered in unexpected ways.
Vicki Frances Borken was born on February 13, 1961, the youngest of four children born to our late parents, Norman and Selma Borken. I was number three, the only boy, and we have two older sisters, Sharon and Marian.
As a baby, she was very mischievous. At three months, she could climb out of her playpen. At six months, she could walk and climb. When she was two years old, her deformity was revealed after she had overturned a dresser. Although she was not injured, my parents noticed that Vicki’s left foot was a little larger titan her right. They brought Vicki to a Pediatrician, who diagnosed her with “Milroy’s Disease”, also known as “Lymphadema”, the main symptom of which is insufficient drainage of the lymph glands, usually affecting the legs.
By the age of three, there was a marked difference in the size of her legs. Around this time she became interested in swimming. As her two sisters were accomplished swimmers, she naturally took to this sport. By the age of three and a half, she took part in her first meet and earned her first ribbon. The meet was televised, and Vicki caused a quite a stir.
Vicki went on to be a star athlete, not just in swimming, but also softball, water polo, volleyball, gymnastics and basketball in her High School years at North Miami Beach High. She was one of the top ten water polo players in the country, winning many ribbons and trophies; she was MVP, Athlete of the Week, All-Journal, All- City, All-County, All-State, and All-American.
Although her condition started to worsen, causing multiple infections, she had various jobs throughout her twenties. By then, it was already difficult for her to stand or sit for long periods, and the condition had spread to her right leg, now also severely deformed. It became impossible for her to hold a job, so she began to receive SSI.
On December 1, 1998, Vicki gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Brichele Marinda, nicknamed “Breezy”. Thankfully, Brichele did not inherit Milroy’s. Vicki is a single mother and needs a lot of assistance. Vicki survives on government subsidies, although she would prefer to be working. She beautiful, intelligent, and talented; she has always helped friends or family in need. She can barely fit into a normal size car, let alone drive, without risking infection Vicki has to be hospitalized at least twice a year. She relies on family, friends, and public transportation to buy groceries or get to medical appointments.
After Vicki was recently hospitalized, she came home, and the next day, Vicki’s Life Partner and Fiancé, Robert Augustine, passed away suddenly. Vicki was so shattered by Robert’s death, that she needed to be admitted to the hospital again. At the same time, she was experiencing another severe infection, so far, the worst she had ever experienced. One day, shortly after she was back at Memorial, she became very agitated; she was in so much pain, shehad to be put under sedation. As she fell asleep, Vicki started to pray. If was then that a miracle happened.
A nurse woke Vicki up. There was a new Doctor in the room to see her, that she had never seen before. A Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Sean O'Donnell, had been called in to evaluate Vicki’s condition for possible surgical solutions. He recommended a radical, risky type of surgery known as the “Charles Procedure". This Technique had actually been around for about one hundred years, and Dr. O'Donnell had performed it on several patients. No-one had ever offered this to Vicki before; there are only a few surgeons trained in this procedure, and Dr. O'Donnell was new at Hollywood Memorial.
A few weeks ago, Vicki recently underwent the “Charles Procedure”. Bulk tissue was removed from her left leg. She is now undergoing multiple painful skin grafts. She is learning how to walk again. The “Charles Procedure” is not a cure, but will greatly improve the quality of life for Vicki and Breezy. If not for this strange, incurable, disabling disease, Vicki could have gone on to the Olympics. It used to be her life-long dream to be a swimming coach, but now, she says, she just wants a normal life for her daughter, who is now a teenager. Vicki may be a mother now, but we all still know her as our “little sister”.
Vicki was recently transferred to the Rehabilitation Facility at Hollywood Memorial South. She has been told that she may be discharged in as little as a week. She will need to stay somewhere after leaving the Rehab, and she needs to have a place to go. However, since losing her Life Partner, she has become homeless. Right now, her daughter has been staying with family members, but Vicki needs a new apartment. Average two-bedroom apartments in this area run around $1000.00 a month, and Vicki receives only about $700.00 a month SSI benefits. Additionally, most landlords are asking for a month’s rent deposit plus first and last month’s rent. Vicki is heavily in debt, and needs assistance. She needs to find a new home, and help with paying bills. Her prayers have begun to be answered, but hopefully, the miracle has just begun. When she is released from the hospital, she will still be receiving therapy and home health care for many months.
Read Story Online at
Vicki was a beautiful baby; we always knew she would be someone special.
Although she developed normally at first, she had a mischievous streak.
When she was three months old, she could climb out of her playpen; she
had to be watched constantly.
When she was six months old, she could walk, and would climb on just
When she was only two years old, an incident happened that revealed
to us that she had a genetic deformity.
Vicki's Lymphedema in the leg. (30 years ago)
|She had managed to overturn a dresser on herself.
Although she was not injured, our mother noticed shortly thereafter that
Vicki’s left foot was a little larger than her right. She immediately
brought this to our father’s attention. Our father, who was a Physician,
doubted that this condition could have been caused by the dresser incident.
They brought Vicki to a Pediatrician, who diagnosed her with “Milroy’s
Disease”, also know as “Lymphedema”, the main symptom
of which is insufficient drainage of the lymph glands, usually affecting
which eventually causes grotesque deformity.
By the age of three, there was a remarkable difference in the size of
|Around this time she became interested in swimming. Our two older sisters
were accomplished swimmers, and she naturally took to this sport. Our
parents encouraged this activity, and never made an issue that Vicki
was “different” from the rest of the family or “deformed”.
Around the age of three and a half, she took part in her first swimming
meet and earned her first ribbon. The swimming meet was televised, and,
as the youngest swimmer there, she caused quite a stir.
|Vicki went on to be a star athlete, not just in swimming, but also softball,
water polo, volleyball, gymnastics and basketball in her High School years.
She also studied Ballet and Acrobatics. She was one of the top ten water
polo players in the country, winning many ribbons and trophies; she was
MVP, Athlete of the Week, All-Journal, All-City, All-County, All-State,
and All-American in this sport. She was invited to be on the National
Junior Olympics Water Polo Team, but our family could not afford to send
|Although her condition started to worsen, with repeated
bouts of infection, she worked various jobs throughout her twenties, mainly
in restaurant and office positions. She also completed a computer-programming
course. By then, it was already difficult for her to stand or even sit
for long periods of time, and the condition had spread to her right leg,
which, although never as badly affected as her left, was now also severely
She now survives on government assistance, although she would prefer to
|Vicki is a beautiful, intelligent, talented person; it is a shame that
she is so limited by this disability. She has always been the one to
help a friend or family member in need. She can barely fit into a normal
size car with her disability, let alone drive, without risking exposing
herself to infection. She has to rely on family, friends, and public
transportation to buy groceries or get to medical appointments.
|On December 1,1998, Vicki gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named
Brichele Marinda, nicknamed “Breezy”. Although “Breezy’s”
father and Vicki are no longer together, he and his family have been
very supportive. Vicki turned out to be a wonderful mother. Thankfully,
Brichelle does not seem to have inherited her mother’s genetic
disorder, although she was a very early walker and talker, like her
mother. The fact remains, however, that Vicki is a single mother and
needs a lot of assistance. She can not afford Day Care for Breezy.
Here is a relatively recent picture of Vicki and her daughter and long
time friends Rose and Sharon.
There is no known cure for Lymphedema,
but there is hope, and there are treatments.
Vicki has to be hospitalized at least twice a year
for severe infections from her Lymphedema.
During a recent hospital stay last year,
a Physician actually suggested amputation!
In January, 2001, Vicki began to undergo
“Manual Lymphatic Drainage”,
a very painful, long-term procedure, which only slightly relieves
some of the symptoms of her condition.
She recently discontinued these treatments after
a series of tragic events occurred this year. In January, after
a series of heart attacks, our father passed away.
Doctor Norman Borken, MD
(The kind family doctors who always made time to listen to his patients)
As Vicki was very attached to Dad, she and “Breezy” spent
much of their time in the hospital, providing as much comfort and reassurance
that they could to both of our parents, until our father’s demise.
Vicki has never gotten over our father’s death, and has been suffering
disabling bouts of depression ever since.
In February, our sister Sharon gave Vicki a car, barely large enough
for Vicki to fit her legs into,
so she could get back and forth to treatments on her own.
Keile(Vicki's neice) and her mom Sharon (Vicki's big sister)
In May, Vicki was to resume treatments, and our mother was to baby sit
Mom had to be hospitalized, and Vicki was unable to proceed as planned.
In June, a truck ran through a red light, and struck Vicki’s car
once again depriving her of transportation.
It became, once again, difficult for her to make therapy appointments.
Our sister Marian, seen here with her husband, Richard, recently passed
after extended hospitalization.
Now for some good news: we found out from her therapist that there is an extremely
costly surgical treatment, only available at Malmo University Hospital
in Sweden, that would allow Vicki to have a much more normal life.
If not for the progression of this strange, incurable, disabling
and disfiguring disease, Vicki could have gone on to the Olympics.
It was always her life-long dream to be a swimming and water-polo
coach, but now, she says, she just wants to have a normal life for
both herself and her daughter. Vicki may be a mother now, but we
all still know her as our “little sister”.
We Love you, Vicki; We Share Your Dreams...
Vicki, Breezy and cousin Zach
Breezy on Television
Vicki and Breezy on Magnum's Force
ABC Channel 10 Television (January 19, 2004)
You can visit several sites to learn about her and her condition: