About Amy Czerniec

I am a 50-year-old woman living in Racine, Wisconsin with my husband Mark.  I love to cook, read, travel, eat healthy, and exercise. On August 14, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer — stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma that had spread to my lymph nodes. I have gone through 16 rounds of chemotherapy over a 5 month period. I lost all my hair only to have it come back curly. I have been through five surgeries from February 2014 to November 2015 — two expected, my double mastectomy, two to remove tissue expanders, my DIEP flap reconstruction surgery, and then re-opening my abdominal site to wash it out due to an infection. I have had my share of complications. I went through 30 rounds of radiation and two weeks later had to have my tissue expander removed leaving me with just one breast on the left side. I will continue to keep documenting my breast cancer journey here in videos and blog posts. Now I focus more on maintaining and improving my change in a healthy lifestyle.
Mark and me at The Four Seasons on Maui

I used to be quite overweight. In 2003 I turned my life around and joined Weight Watchers. I lost 127 pounds, and have been able to keep most of it off by attending my weekly meetings, eating properly, and exercising daily. I truly believe in Weight Watchers and feel that keeping myself accountable has played an important role in my weight maintenance. I am continuously scouring the internet reading various health related material to find the latest tips and satisfying foods.  I never thought I would be the kind of person who made exercise a daily habit, but I finally realized how important it is. I feel great, look better and, best of all, feel younger. I wish I would have figured this out decades ago. Since my cancer diagnosis I have become involved with Livestrong at the YMCA. I was lucky to be part of the pilot program at the Racine Sealed Air YMCA. I went through it while I was on chemotherapy and since then have helped out as a volunteer. I have found it very rewarding to be part of this program.

Me and Fiona Dyer.

Part of the reason I decided to make a change in my life is that both my parents died at a rather young age. My mother died in 1996 at the age of 67 from leukemia, and my father died three years later from a heart attack at the age of 69. After my mother died, I ballooned up to 280 pounds, then I kept that weight on even after losing my dad in 1999. It took me until 2003 to get serious about a lifestyle change.

My parents never stressed how important it is to have activity as a part of your day. My mother was a housewife, and sure she had a lot of running around to do with her big family, but she never made fitness a part of her daily habit. My father was a carpenter who for most of his life was rather thin, but by no means healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved both my parents very much and miss them every day.

I guess when I grew up in the 70’s, very few people saw the value in fitness. I do remember seeing Jack LaLanne and it always seemed like people around me looked at him as being a little different.  Actually, he was! Now I keep on track by trying to make healthy food choices and taking time to exercise daily. My hope is to inspire others to make better choices in making their lives more healthy and enjoyable. I find it kind of funny to have made all these changes only to end up getting breast cancer. I realize that there are other reasons why cancer happens and it isn’t all related to diet and exercise. I do, however, feel that by making these changes in my life it maybe helpful with my fight in this battle and will make a difference in my chance for survival.

Amy Czerniec trying on cancer wigs

This last photo is me trying on wigs in preparation in loosing my hair while going through chemo treatments.