Three weeks since mastectomy

by Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014Breast Cancer14 comments

It’s been three weeks since my bilateral mastectomy and things move along better each day. I still have problems reaching for things really high up in the cabinets or bending down to pick things up from the floor. My mother in law lent me her grabber, and it’s really come in handy with a few things. I am hoping I won’t be needing it too much longer though.

Since the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my sister-in-law Lori has wanted to take me to a healing mass up at Holy Hill. I have been putting it off since my immune system had been low. Well, we finally made the trip a couple of Sundays ago. Lori brought our friend Sharon along who is also a breast cancer survivor. I had never been to Holy Hill and was really happy that I went. What a beautiful experience with so many people coming up to me and saying they would pray for me.

New Fox and Hounds Restaurant and Tavern, Hubertus, Wisconsin
After the healing mass, we went to lunch at The New Fox and Hounds Restaurant & Tavern in Hubertus, Wisconsin. It was a cute little restaurant set back in the woods. I felt like we were somewhere in Europe.

I still have two Jackson-Pratt drains in as I write. When I left the hospital I had five, and since then have had three removed. Like most of my friends who have had mastectomies have said, the drains are one of the worst parts of recovery. It’s not that you can’t do anything. It’s just that they get on your nerves. The skin pulls and itches at the area where they come out of your body. Also, when I go to stretch or do my physical therapy exercises, it really hurts. I am going to be so relieved to have them all out.

So far I have been through two physical therapy sessions and I feel like my mobility and range of motion are getting better. I just have to make sure I keep up on the exercises because I can feel how tight everything gets if I don’t.

There’s a chance I might be part of a trial for a breast cancer vaccine. It’s the NeuVax™ Phase 3. My surgeon is the lead in a trial being done at Froedtert Cancer Center. They took my blood to see if I am eligible to be a candidate. I have to be the correct blood type and they have to see if my immune system is strong enough to partake in the study. It looks like If I am compatible, the study will be conducted over a 3 year period. I am excited to take part in a study to help with any advancements towards a vaccine.

On Monday we went to the plastic surgeon’s office to have my third drain removed, and at the same time, I unexpectedly received a fill. I have temporary tissue expanders in my chest that are filled with saline. When I came out of surgery my breasts were 40 percent filled. After my doctor examined my incisions on Monday, he said to his assistant, “Let’s put another 100 cc’s in each expander.” I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe it was better not to know beforehand. I think today I am feeling it more than on Monday.

Above is a YouTube video that explains how the expanders work. It was really pretty cool to watch Shea inject the saline and see my breasts grow a little bit right before my eyes.

In my physical therapy sessions at Froedtert and my daily exercises at home, I can’t believe how hard it is to do a simple little activity such as putting your arms out like an airplane. I know, for one thing, I won’t ever again take this for granted. I wish I could get out there and start walking again like I did last year. I sure look forward to getting back out and being able to move around without these limitations. I know I have to go slow and keep focused and also that the worst is behind me.

  1. Janet

    Sweet Amy- I love your grit, and I hear your battle fatigue. I am thinking of you constantly, and I cannot wait until you are drain free and more comfortable with arm movement. Joy, not just relief, is ahead. I only wish you did not have to work so hard to grasp it. Xo

    • Amy Czerniec

      Janet It’s funny of me not to realize what an undertaking this surgery was going to be. I guess not having anything to compare it to is hard. I know that joy is not far away I just need to keep pushing (gently) forward and not over do it. Patience, patience, patience!

      I loved seeing two of your sons and their families on your recent blog post. How very beautiful they all are. I love you and your family.

  2. Melissa Laughlin


    Praying you can have the final two drains removed very soon. I know this has been a difficult journey and I’m so proud of how far you’ve come. I’m so glad that you have the love of Mark to help you through the tough times. Love you.


    • Amy Czerniec

      It is hard sometimes for me to think of what I have been through. It has all happened so fast and gone rather smoothly. I have to remember that I did just have major surgery and that I will have limitations.

      Having Mark’s love and attention has been great, sometimes I think he has patience of a saint. All of the love and support from friends like yourself has also been so very comforting.

      I love you too Melissa.

  3. Jamie Dieter-Pias

    Hi Amy,

    It so good to see your smiling face as we pass in the driveway. I have a sweet little boy that asks about you often, and is really curious about the length of your hair now. :) Maybe someday it will become nice enough for us to hang out in yard and chat a little longer. I am glad to hear that you are doing so well.

    Lots of Love

    • Amy Czerniec

      You are right, you do have a sweet little boy. I always love seeing Nolan and how enthusiastic he is to see me. That really warms my heart. My hair is really coming in, each day it gets a little fuzzier. I wear Nolan’s survival bracelet that he gave me and picture Joe teaching him how to make it. :)

      Hear, hear to nice weather and sitting in the yard hanging out! I can’t wait to see little Pressley running around this summer. ;)

      Love you guys,

  4. Steven Leff

    So glad to hear that your progress continues in such a positive fashion. Your road to recovery has been long but your resilience to stay positive has been awesome. I have to believe your positive energy has inspired others who are walking your same path but have not traveled yet as far as you. You give them hope.

    • Amy Czerniec

      Oh Steve thank you so much for your wonderful kind words, how beautifully written. I have been inspired by so many women who have already gone through what I have. I only hope that I can give someone else that same inspiration.

      My sisters and I had such a nice visit with your parents last month. I know your mom said you would be in town sometime in April. Maybe we will be able to see each other then?


      • Steven Leff

        That would be great.

  5. Betty Jo

    So glad to hear you are healing & positive! Love you cousin….

    Betty Jo

  6. Bridgett

    Every time I read your Blogs I am just Blown Away- As one of my Very Best Friends- You inspire me everyday! I m so glad your doing so well after surgey- knew u would! Therapy looks tough but it always is after any surgery … No you ll get threw that as well! Everytime i work out, i think of You and my Sister Theresa and all that the 2 of u have been threw- and i never take “working out” fr granted anymore- like u said ;-) So sorry I dont see You and Mark more- but know as always in my thoughts and prayers everyday- Love You guys so much! By the way – i too cant wait till u can get out for more walks, would Love more than anything if we could maybe meet halfway somewhere once a week threw the summer?

  7. Lynn

    Praying that you get those pesky drains out soon. Wow you’ve really come a long way though! You are getting out and walking and that is fantastic. Holy Hill looked beautiful. Love ya!

  8. Chandra


    We found you on YouTube the other night-the video with your henna tattoo. My 13 year old daughter is being treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma.

    She has a dance to go to next month and thought it might be fun to do something on her head for it. She does not want a wig and only wears hats when absolutely necessary, says they make her head sweat. We found your video with your beautiful henna tattooed head!

    Thanks for putting your videos out. Just wanted you to know they’ve touched more people than just those you know. We’ll be praying for and believing in your complete healing.

    • Amy Czerniec

      Chandra thanks so much for your comment. It makes me happy to know that I have given your daughter an idea to show her beautiful head at her dance. Here is one article that inspired my “henna crown.” I loved having my henna tattoo and was sad I didn’t get to have it done once more before my hair grew back. I know what she means about wigs and hats. I haven’t been wearing either lately, I love to go natural. :)

      God bless you, your daughter, and your whole family.


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