More activities as cancer treatments drift into past

by Tuesday, October 28th, 2014Breast Cancer13 comments

While putting the video together for this blog post, I was really surprised to see just how much we have been doing lately. A year ago we were just starting out with our weekly visits for treatments and doctors appointments. It’s hard to believe that that is all behind us. I feel like things are starting to get back to normal.

I still have the two lymph nodes under my left arm that are reactive. My doctors did another ultrasound on on October 7th, which found them to be the same as when they looked at them in September. The plan now is to take another ultrasound in January, and if these lymph nodes are still reactive then, they will proceed with a biopsy. The doctors don’t seem to be too concerned, feeling that all my body has been through — plus the fact that I had so many lymph nodes removed from the other side — might be causing them to react. I am going with that, and in the meantime will be off doing all the fun and interesting things that we like to do.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this time of year has to be my favorite. There are still plenty of things to do. We went to a great event called Doors Open Milwaukee. I am going to make sure we take part in this every year now. Over 150 different businesses open their buildings to the public for the weekend. It’s a chance to check out some places that you have always wondered about. I was happy that my favorite radio station was on the tour this year — 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. They have a very nice facility in the Walkers Point neighborhood. We were only able to check out maybe 6 of the 150-plus buildings that opened for tours.
Circle of Hope breast cancer support group at Tackle Pink football game in Kenosha, Wisconsin
This year was the first year that I was involved with the annual Tackle Pink football game that’s held between Kenosha’s Bradford and Indian Trail High Schools. Each school raises money by selling T-shirts and other things promoting the game. The proceeds benefit the breast cancer support group that I am in, Circle of Hope. Besides mutual support, our also group helps those women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and are underinsured in the Kenosha County area. It was very exciting to see so many people wearing pink to support the cause. A bunch of women from our group attended the game and were brought out on the field at halftime, where the two schools presented us with a check for over $8,000.00.  It was such a special night for all of us.

Party on the Pavement is always a fun thing to do at the end of September in Racine. I love getting downtown to see some of the new businesses and stop in at a few old spots like Kewpee’s. You never know who you’ll bump into down there.  We toured some more interesting buildings right here in Racine recently when we attended my favorite event, Preservation Racine’s Tour of Historic Places.  I get so nosy when I am driving around town and looking at all the beautiful properties that we have. I get excited every year waiting to see what is on the tour. This has been going on now for 39 years. We have only attended twice, but I think this is something we will make sure to do annually now.

Fall colors at Glacier Hills County Park in Richfield, Wisconsin
I am not sure if it’s just because last year I was so focused on getting rid of my cancer, but I don’t recall the colors of the trees ever being this brilliant. Who knows? Maybe it’s being pushed up against mortality that’s making me more aware. We have taken full advantage of those colors by getting out and going up to Holy Hill and Glacier Hills County Park, which we visited after my last doctors’ appointment. And then on the weekends, we’ve gone for hikes along the Root River Parkway and at Pringle Nature Center.

I have been really energized since getting back to the Racine Family YMCA. My brother-in-law Bill and my sister Marianne made it possible for me to get back there. I have been going just about every day since I joined. I am taking yoga, piloxing (pilates/boxing/dancing), aquacise, running on the treadmill, and Zumba. I love every minute of it! I can’t say I am 100 percent back to normal, but pretty close. I have also made a very strong effort in eating clean. I am trying to cut out all the sugar that I am so heavily addicted to. We met a woman named Emily a couple of weeks ago who is a 13-year survivor of colon cancer. She opted out of taking chemo because her tumor was tested and she said it wouldn’t help her CEA levels to come down. She is eating clean and practices various other non-traditional methods of keeping cancer-free. Our talk with her has really changed my mind. I know how bad sugar is for cancer patients, but for some reason, in the past couple of months, I guess I was feeling sorry for myself and I would give in to the sugar cravings. Well, after we met Emily and she told us her story and how she hasn’t eaten refined sugar since 1982, I was sold. I can’t thank her enough for that. So far I am down 7 pounds. I sure hope I keep myself on track and stay focused.
Zombie makeup on Amy Czerniec for Halloween
We don’t normally do too much for Halloween. A couple of years ago, we dressed up for a party, and since then we take those costumes out when we hand out treats on Halloween. This year, we decided to join friends of ours at the annual Ride of the Living Dead event down in Kenosha. This is where people dress up as zombies and ride their bicycles from bar to bar to listen to bands and eat and drink. We didn’t ride our bikes, and we only made it to the last two stops of the night. I had so much fun getting my face as ugly as I could. I think I might have gotten a little carried away. Mark decided to not put makeup on, but to dress up like Johnny from the classic movie Night of the Living Dead.

I have been troubled by my hair lately. It has been a big adjustment for me to deal with these curls, when before I had only a slight wave to my hair. Well, now I feel like a woman again. Mark told me I should check out his hair stylist, Jackie Engel at Allure Hair Designs. I was able to get in right away, and Jackie made me feel so good. She showed me how to use the round brush when drying and, most importantly, gave me an outstanding haircut. Of course, I haven’t been able to replicate how she had it styled the day I left her salon.  Oh well — I guess I need to keep practicing.

Finally, one thing happened to me that I never thought would: I got to meet President Bill Clinton. I have always been a big fan of his. I worked for his campaign way back in 1992 doing lit drops all through Kenosha. Mark heard that Mr. Clinton was going to be in Milwaukee last Friday and asked, “Do you want to try and get tickets?” I said hell yeah! We got the tickets and made sure to wake up early and get to the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee with plenty of time to spare. We arrived at the hotel at 7:20 a.m. to find ourselves the third and fourth persons in line. I was ecstatic! We waited until 10:45, and when they opened the doors, we were able to get front row seats. I was so caught up in all the excitement, I look back at the video and I can’t believe how I just grabbed him for my quick shot. That is a day I won’t soon forget.

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  1. Jackie Engel

    Thank you, Amy… :) Although, this was our first time ever meeting…it certainly was my pleasure…and then to have the privilege of shaping your new hair style, and teach you how to re-create it….. Was a bonus! Yes, practice will make perfect. ;) You are a beautiful, strong woman…with a great attitude! And I look forward to our future visits.. Have a great day… And keep smiling..:)

    • Amy Czerniec

      Jackie I really had a nice time with you at your salon. Mark is always so pleased with the work you do for him, I knew I would be in good hands. I look forward to making more visits and coming up with what my next hairstyle will be. :)

  2. karen elderbrook

    Amy, so enjoyed your blog. You had me laughing and crying.I only hope you and mark will someday be able to maybe share this on pbs. as a you both,karen

    • Amy Czerniec

      Karen – Was it my leaf story that made you cry? I can’t think of what was so sad. :) you are so funny PBS.

      We love you too.

  3. Marianne Germinaro

    Amy, I love watching and listening to your blogs. Did you know that that was Bill’s brother Jim playing the drums for All the Kings Men band that played downtown Racine with the Elvis impersonator. I also love your new hair do, so becoming on you! You look great and I am so proud of you ! Love you sister. Love marianne

    • Amy Czerniec

      Hey Marianne,

      Of course I knew that was Jim on the drums. Don’t you remember I stood up with him at your wedding? Jim and his band put on a fun show.

  4. Nancy

    Amy…I must tell you that Night of the Living Dead has been my most favorite horror flick evuh! I had to laugh when you said Mark went as “Johnny”….because no one would know who that is unless they were a fan!!! “I’m coming to get you, Barbara”!

    I am so jealous of the fall colors! This is the biggest thing I miss since moving to Florida 17 years ago….the change of seasons! Enjoy every single leaf changing this year, Amy….it’s a gift to you from God as he cheered you on during all of your treatment!

    • Linda Serpe

      Amy you are so gifted with words, it is such a pleasure reading your blogs.
      glad to hear all the updates
      I to, finally have found I’m going to go off sugar as much as possible, I go to Acupunture now, and she suggested it, I can talk more about it meeting, i finally feel so much better

    • Amy Czerniec

      Nancy….Mark and I were really surprised to find out how many of the zombies we met at the Ride of the Living Dead event that didn’t know who Johnny was nor even saw the original movie that this is based on. I really love that movie too.

      I have truly enjoyed every leaf this year, and I did kind of feel like it was a gift from God.

      Take care and thanks for the wonderful comment.

  5. Donna Flannery

    Amy, I love the picture of you and Bill Clinton. You sure are beaming. I know how much this means to you.
    Heard you were picked to sit in the back ground of president Obama this week. That’s great!
    Glad to hear your feeling back to normal. Miss you and love reading your blog. Love your sister. Donna

    • Amy Czerniec

      Donna…that was a chance of a lifetime. I was so happy to be able to get so close to him. You’re right we did get invited to be sitting behind President Obama when he came to Milwaukee last week, but decided not to go. I was happy that we got to see him when he visited here in Racine in July of 2010.

      I miss you too and hope to see you sometime soon.

      Love Amy.

  6. Jennifer DeCristoforo

    Hello Amy,
    So wonderful to see all the fun you’ve been having and that you are back at the Y. And your hair looks great! I loved the video and even watched it with my 12-year old daughter so she could see what an inspiration you are with all your positive steps! (She’s also a president fanatic!). I went and got my first post-chemo haircut today and you are right it makes you feel so much better even though I still don’t have much hair! Jen

    • Amy Czerniec

      Hi Jen,

      I have been feeling great being back at the Y. It’s fun having a schedule of classes that I am involved in.

      So did you and Chloe get to see President Obama when he was in your town?

      Doesn’t it feel great to have your hair styled? I know I didn’t think I had much either, but I feel so much better. Is your hair coming back different than it was before?

      I hope you are feeling good, and thanks for keeping in touch.



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