January update: Lymph node biopsy came back benign

by Tuesday, January 27th, 2015Breast Cancer33 comments

Christmas was great with both families. I am just glad to be back to a normal routine. All the holiday eating had put me into a tailspin. I’m sure I’m not alone. I feel like I have wrangled in my bad habits and have actually been able to lose 7 pounds since December. I am really conscious of what goes in my mouth. I think before I eat. (What a concept, huh?) I try to ask myself things like, How is this going to fuel my body? Is it going to make me feel good or slow me down? Will it stay with me and keep me satisfied and full? Is it something that I truly need to eat? That and making sure to try and get a workout in, at least 5 days a week.

On Tuesday we lost another great woman in our family circle, Aunt Virg. Aunt Virg was my great nieces’ — Nadine and Zoey’s — great aunt, their mother Liz’s aunt. Virg was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and has pretty much been on chemo and treatments ever since. I was lucky enough to be watching the girls last Tuesday when we got the call that Aunt Virg was probably not going to last through the night. The girls and I went over to say our last goodbyes. She passed on later that evening. Aunt Virg was such a feisty, strong woman. We sure are going to miss her.

On Wednesday, the 21st of January, I had my six-month follow-up with my oncologist. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since my treatments have come to an end. On that same day, I had scheduled the ultrasound on my lymph nodes under my left arm. The radiologist said that the lymph nodes look the same if not maybe just a little smaller. Before she let me go, she wanted to check across the hall with Dr. Cheng to see if he thought we should do the biopsy or not. She was able to reach him and he said, “Let’s do the biopsy just to make sure there are no signs of cancer. Why keep doing the ultrasounds every 3 to 6 months? Let’s just find out for sure.” Mark and I both felt like that was a good decision. It’s been since July when I first found them, and since then, I have to say we have both been kind of unsettled. The results came back late Friday afternoon with the biopsy judged benign. Whew! What a nice relief that was.



Since going through chemotherapy, I have been pushed into early menopause and I am taking Tamoxifen, so my body lacks estrogen. How should I put it? Things aren’t like they used to be. Physical intimacy has become physically painful. So I have been visiting the WISH Clinic at Froedtert. Yesterday, I had my first appointment with a physical therapist to do some biofeedback on my pelvic floor muscles. I learned a lot from her. She gave me an education on the human anatomy in the whole pelvic floor area, and how all the muscles down there are connected. She did some biofeedback, by connecting small electrodes to my bottom to see how my muscles down there reacted to different positions that I was in.

It was very interesting to see the graph on the computer. If I coughed, it would go up. Laying down was the position that made my muscles the tensest. Little did I know that my hips are really tight, and that may be the cause of my discomfort. She showed me a couple of stretching exercises I should do every day. These exercises are actually ones that we do in yoga. Huh, I guess going to yoga does more for the body than just help with proper breathing and balance. Now that I know that, I surely won’t be missing my yoga classes!

Today I am going to the next orientation for the Livestrong program at the YMCA. Last year at this time, I was part of the first group that the Y offered this program to. I think it’s a great way to let cancer survivors know how important exercise is, and to prove to them that they can do it. I am so grateful to have been a part of it, and just love being at the Y now nearly every day.

I hope, in this post, I didn’t disclose too much information to everyone, but I just want to share with whoever is out there, going through a cancer diagnosis, some of the things that you may have to deal with — and hopefully some sort of solution to the problem.



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33 Comments
  1. janet dahl

    Amy, I admire your “seize joy” attitude, and your efforts to get back the comfort that physical love can bring. You are one fearless, proactive woman. There is no such thing as TMI- you will inspire others not to settle for reduced boundaries if there is help available. You go girl!

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Thanks Janet, My loyal fan and supporter. You are one woman who has always shared your life with all of us, and I thank you for that.

      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you so much! I stumbled upon your youTube videos. Yes it does hurt to lose the hair! I’m getting ready for my second treatment of 6 (3 weeks apart) then surgery, then radiation,(maybe) then hormone treatment. Thank you and you husband for being very detailed. This is the first time I have really been helped so much. Didn’t know about the ingrown hairs, but I figured that may happen. Thanks again! Keep posting!! I emailed you a request to let me know in your opinion, if you had to do again what would you do different.

      Reply
      • Amy Czerniec

        Hello Stephanie, Thank you for leaving your comment on my blog. It’s always an honor to hear that the videos that we made has helped another breast cancer survivor. It floors me to think that the videos, made really to keep my friends and family informed on how my days are going while fighting this disease, had an effect on complete strangers.

        I am sorry that you are now faced with your own diagnosis. I wish you only the best in your treatments, surgery and recovery.

        You asked if I had to do it again, what would I do different. I would have to say that there is a small part of me that maybe wouldn’t have removed my left breast, the one without cancer. It’s not something I lose sleep over but, it does cross my mind from time to time.

        I really do need to update my blog to let everyone know how well I am doing.

        Take care Stephanie and keep in touch.
        Hugs,
        Amy

        Reply
  2. Andrea

    You are so inspirational! 6 months was such a milestone and you came through with flying colors! Always love seeing your YouTube updates pop up and to hear your update! Stay strong! xo

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Andrea, It’s comments like this from people I have personally never met that keep me going with my updates. I really appreciate your taking the time to watch and comment.

      My best to you. Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  3. Theresa & Rick

    You are amazing Amy! This was a wonderful update. Sorry to hear about Aunt Virg. Sounds like she fought long and hard. If you could bottle up your stamina I would buy it in a heart beat. Do you have more fun as a Blond? Take care and say Hi! to Mark. <3

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Theresa, you are too kind. I can get on a kick and feel like I can conquer the world, and other days I feel so unmotivated. So if I could bottle those good days, I bet I could make us rich.

      Take care and thanks for checking in.

      Love,
      Amy

      P.S. Hi to Rick too.

      Reply
  4. Karen Elderbrook

    As always you have informed so many people with your updates. I,am so proud of you and want you to know that.So many times we aren’t told this,and should be told. Keep up the great writing as its so informative to so many.Love you my dear sister.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Oh Karen, what a wonderful thing to hear from my big sister. You are going to make me cry. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I couldn’t have a better (oldest) sister than you. :-)

      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  5. Rich chapman

    So glad to hear that your biopsy was benign
    Rich

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Thanks Rich, It is quite a relief for sure. I hope things are good with you, I think of you often.

      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  6. Marianne Germinaro

    Amy-
    So glad to hear your news that the biopsy was a good read! You are such a dedicated person in everything you do! You put me and others to shame! It was a sad week in learning about Aunt Virgina’s passing! She fought a long and courageous battle, she was a kind woman and dearly loved by all , she will be greatly missed. Take care.
    Love , your sister,
    Marianne

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Marianne,

      Thanks for your very touching words, I am glad you think I am so dedicated. I feel now I just need to keep focused on living a healthier life and perhaps being diagnosed with cancer was a wake up call.

      I know Nadine really missed having aunt Virg at her party yesterday. It was so nice to see all of the rest of the family, and to celebrate our little girls 9th birthday.

      I love you my beautiful sister.

      Reply
  7. Michelle

    So glad all is going well! Very happy for you. :)

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Thank you my sweet dear friend Michelle, I am so blessed to have you in my life. I love you.

      Reply
  8. Donna Flannery

    Amy,
    What good news about your biopsy. You are looking good. I have learned so much thru your blog. It’s great that you share your life with us. You are a strong and loving woman . So proud that you are my sister.
    Sadden to hear about Aunt Virg’s passing. She was loved by many. Nadine and Zoey will have many loving memories .
    Miss you, Love Donna

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Donna,

      I miss you all the time and wish we were not living so far apart. It was so nice to see you Barry and Toby at Christmas, that really made my holiday. I think I get my strength from the love of my family and friends, I don’t know what I would do without you. I love you.

      Yeah we had Nadine’s birthday party this weekend and it was sad not to have aunt Virg or aunt Dolly there. Nadine was feeling a little blue.

      Reply
  9. Bridgett

    I Love You GirlFriend!
    I actually started watching this a week ago at wk – never finished it then and now just finished….
    So Hapy And Relieved that were All Good w the Biopsy- thank You God

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      I love you too Bridgett. I thank God all the time that you have been part of my life for so long. I feel so good these days and can’t wait for warmer weather so we can get in some outdoor walking.

      Reply
  10. Blue

    Hi Amy!

    I admire you simply put. Our diagnosis are similar, I was diagnosed April 2014. Of all that I follow, you my dear, are the best vlogger! Always best wishes and results

    Blue

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello Blue,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am sorry to hear that you two have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I feel like being diagnosed in 2013/2014, our chances for survival are greater, thanks to all the talented hard working doctors and researchers.

      The best of luck to you as well, and thanks for contacting me.

      Reply
  11. Jennifer DeCristoforo

    Hello my Wisconsin friend,
    I’m so glad to hear you are doing so well and taking charge (as usual) in the areas you feel you are not doing well. The challenges seem to change over time, but tackling them head on is the only way to keep our confidence and regain our health. (You taught me that!) Bitterly cold, snowy Maine has been no place for humans this winter but I try to stay active and eat well with your ideas and tips- even from much earlier posts. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello Jen,

      I am glad to hear from you. I can’t even fathom the condition your part of the world is right now. I thought we had it bad in 2011 with our snowfall, but Maine has got us beat this year. I sure hope that you folks get some relief soon.

      Take care and thanks again for checking in. :-)

      Reply
  12. sue campbell

    Hi Amy, I have been following your progress, and think your are an amazing lady. My name is Sue and i live in England. I was diagnosed in September and have just had my fifth chemotherapy treatment today. I so wanted to find out about your lymph nodes and was praying they would be clear. I am so happy they are. I find your blogs very informative and inspirational. I hope you stay online as i believe you give others hope and inspiration.
    take good care of yourself.
    God bless
    Sue

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello Sue,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I hope that you are managing the chemo treatments okay. I can honestly say I feel like I am kind of back to a little more of a normal life. It is such a long haul for us. When I got diagnosed, I didn’t know how much time this was all going to take. I am now getting my self back into shape. I am eating really healthy now and exercising like a fool. I have shed 10 pounds so far. I do hope to add things to my blog, it’s just that not too much different has been going on. I guess there will be more the closer I come to having my reconstruction at the end of summer this year.

      You take care and be kind to yourself, take it easy. I always felt guilty about not doing so much. But geez, we are fighting cancer and we deserve a break.

      God be with you.
      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  13. Katerine

    Dear Amy,

    So happy to hear about the results of your biopsy! That’s really excellent news! You are fully recovering and you should speak in the past tense of your cancer already. :)

    1 month after my skin-sparing mammectomy I had another operation to remove my lymphe nodes. I was initially diagnosed DCIS (breastcancer stage 0), but pathological exam of the removed breast tissue revealed the smallest tumour ever. That was very unfortunate and unexpected. Hence the second operation. Thankfully only my first node was infected, all other 16 lymphe nodes were cancer free.

    It’s still worrying, and that’s why I took chemotherapy and radiation. Like you, I also have an ER/PR positive cancer, which is good because it gives us another method to attack the beast. I’m on letrozole (Femara) because I had just reached menopauze. I’ve been told the same thing about soy because it acts like estrogen and we want to avoid that.

    Cognitive disfunction like inability to multitask is very much an after-effect of chemotherapy. I have the same thing. Half the time I can’t find words! I’m also exhausted still, what with all the other stressful stuff going on in my life.

    I’m having excellent results with lymphe drainage using the Vodder technique (http://www.vodderschool.com/manual_lymph_drainage_overview) which has greatly benefited me. I had 3 hard strands after my operation, but now my arm is 100% back to normal and I can use it perfectly, just like the unaffected side.

    Oh, did you have that happen to you? My eyelashes and eyebrows nearly all fell out again for the second time, 5 months after chemo. :( I was so upset. I looked around and found this blog on the topic: http://emilymcarthur.blogspot.be/2008/06/post-chemo-hair-loss-and-regrowth.html?m=1. So many women replied because they experienced the same thing.

    That’s interesting to hear about the yoga. What kind of position would be helpful to relax those muscles? I know Kegel exercises are suppose to tone vaginal muscles.

    Your hair looks great, very nice cut. I’m short and very curly for the moment. My hair came back pretty grey which is why I’ve used henna to colour it. I dare not use chemicals and will probably never use them again. It’s a natural brown colour now.

    Your video blogs are always interesting and I love keeping up with you.
    Take care Amy! x
    Katerine

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello sweet Katerine,

      It’s so nice to hear from you. I feel like I am truly getting back to more of my normal self. I have the right dose of meds that has made me feel more happy and positive.

      I did not experience any additional loss of eyebrows or lashes. I can’t say I have heard that from any of the women in my support group. I do know that some did not get the lashes completely back.

      I haven’t had any lymph drainage issue yet, and hopefully never will. I did experience a slight bit of cording in my inner forearm, it has mostly gone away after many treatments of therapy. I think I had a case of tendentious from typing on my computer in a bad position. I need to remember to take frequent breaks. :-)

      I like to do the pigeon position to open my hips. I have been trying to keep up with the Kegel exercises as well, my therapist wants me to do at least 30 a day. Whew!! That seems like so much!

      My hair is so damn curly, I can’t even believe it’s mine. The texture seems more coarse than it used to be. So many people think it is much darker than what I always had. I haven’t dyed my hair in probably 15 years or more. The henna sounds like a good idea, I like you, don’t think all those chemicals are good for us cancer survivors.

      I hope your life is getting better, I know the last time we spoke there was so much going on. I think of you often and send warm thoughts and hugs to you, so far away.

      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  14. Irene

    My dear Amy, thank you so much for your blog, my heart goes out to you and all that you have endured. I too was diagnosed with Her2+ metastatic breast cancer last September and will be receiving my 6th and final chemo treatment next week. Then radiation. I’ve done a lot of Googling during my low energy weeks and I ran across a couple of great websites. Here’s one interesting article. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/ask-expert/1556/foods-avoid-breast-cancer

    Keep practicing yoga and take good care of yourself. I should be starting in May.
    Namastay

    Reply
  15. dorothy

    Dear Amy..I came across your youtube videos recently and I just cant help but watch them over and over! You are such a positive person in such a scary situation and just love your attitude! Although I dont have cancer I have 2 other terminal diseases and wish I could be like you. I hope and pray you continue to be well and that cancer stays far away from you! peace :o)

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello Dorothy,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you reached out to me and that you came across my videos, if they can help you in a small way then I am grateful. I am sorry to hear that you have been given the challenge of dealing with two terminal diseases. Who knows how my attitude would be if I were faced with what you are. We all have our own battles and really never know what we will be dealt with.

      I am now trying to start living a better lifestyle with keeping a strong focus on my nutrition and activity. I know that if anything can help with staying healthily and hopefully cancer free, that diet and exercise both play an important role. I am happy to report that currently things are well with me.

      I wish you the best in your journey with your health and will keep you in my thoughts. Keep in touch if you wish. ;-)

      With love and hope,
      Amy

      Reply
  16. Terri Reed

    Dear Amy,
    I just found your blog last week and have been pouring over every word and video. I found a lump in my left breast in December 2015 and went to the Dr on Jan.6, 2016. After mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsy, and MRI’s, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. My tumor was 3.9 cm. It was pretty much that size in all directions with satellites going all the way to my chest wall. She found 1 suspicious lymph node that she biopsied and it came back negative. My PET scan showed the cancer had not spread anywhere else in my body. I have Stage IIB ER positive. They started me on chemo first. Adriamycin/Cytoxan 4 treatments two weeks apart. I started that Feb.15,2016. Then 12 weeks of Taxol. I will have my last Taxol next Monday, June 27, 2016. That makes me happy. I have done very well with the chemo. The hardest chemo was the a/c. I lost my hair after the first treatment before the second. I will have surgery to remove both breasts at the end of July, possibly the 27th. Then I have to have radiation a month later for six weeks 30 treatments.

    My question to you was going to be when did you get reconstruction. I am going to do the DIEP flap for both breasts but I will have to wait six months after radiation before I can start that so that will be spring of 2017. I see in the comments here that you are having reconstruction after this summer. I would like to know how that goes for you. Are you still doing the DIEP and for both breasts? I was told that I could not have expanders because of the radiation so that wasn’t an option I considered. I have a very good plastic surgeon in OKC, Oklahoma. She is one of the best! Dr. Bajaj.

    I am 58 years old and I already had gone through menopause when I was 54. I will have to take an aromatase inhibitor for five years after the radiation is through.

    I so appreciate your words and videos about your cancer experience.
    Please continue to write and update us.

    Terri Christian Reed
    Are you on Facebook? I am. :)

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello Terri,

      I am so glad that you reached out to me. I accepted your facebook friend request. Wow, it sounds like you had a very similar diagnosis and pretty much the exact procedures that I had. I am sorry that you have had your life tipped upside down. What a way to start the new year huh? I hope to talk with you soon on the phone.

      I know I have been such a bad girl in not updating what’s going on in my life lately. I most definitely will have to come up with some sort of catch up video.

      Reply

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