Getting ready for radiation therapy

by Sunday, May 18th, 2014Breast Cancer26 comments

We were fortunate to have great weather for Easter. I loved being with both our families on that day. It’s always fun to watch the kids find the Easter eggs that the adults hide for them. This year at my mother-in-law’s house, Mark and our brother-in-law Kevin were in charge of hiding the eggs. I think I might have had more fun watching the two of them come up with tricky places to hide them.

While having a PICC line implanted in my arm, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do much, but surprisingly I was able to adjust quite well. I am glad that I was able to get out to be with family more frequently,  and also have visitors over. We had a great time with our nephew Erik, his girlfriend, and his little daughter Emma. It was a lot of fun to have her to ourselves. Sometimes at family functions, there are so many people around, and we don’t get to have the one-on-one time that I love to have with the little children in our lives. It is always nice to see each of their individual personalities, along with little traits of their parents. We spent a lot of time with Emma’s dad when he was her age, and I see some of the cute little things in her that he used to do. Times like this spent with family are, to me, truly the best part of my life.

First Communion: Carol and Amy Dibble, 1974, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha, WI
On Sunday, May 4th, we had two little girls in our family make their First Communion — our niece Katie, Mark’s sister Colette’s daughter, and our great niece Nadine, our oldest nephew Brad’s daughter. I remember when I had my First Communion and how proud my mother was. You can see it on her face in this picture. My mom is just so cute here. I love her so much and really miss her. I came across these photos just a few days before our nieces’ big day. It was fun to bring the photos along on Sunday to show the girls how excited I was on my First Communion day.
First Communion, Amy Dibble, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha, WI
First Communion: Amy Dibble, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha WI
You all know I love to read, and I love my Kindle for the ease of carrying around my numerous books. I have signed up at a couple of websites that send out newsletters with offers on downloading free or very discounted books. One of them is BookBub. It was there that I found (for free!) this book, The Art of Trapeze, by Molly McCord. I have always had a love for Paris, and the cover of the book appealed to me. It’s about the author deciding to move, on her own, to Paris. How exciting, I thought! I was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with this book. It was funny, sad, and very inspiring. I had a great time reading it. I feel like it made me open up my mind a little more to what the future might hold, and to learn about my subconscious mind. I now have a few more of her books that I will be reading.

Another book that was just for fun reading was The Big, Not-So-Small, Curvy Girls Dating Agency, by Ava Catori. This one was silly and really made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

This past couple of weeks, it’s been fun to watch all of the birds migrating from the south back up north. I made sure to get our hummingbird feeder set up the last week in April, and already we have had at least two different hummingbirds (male & female), and maybe three at our feeder.

I also have been putting out oranges for the Baltimore Orioles. The only birds eating them at first were the House Finch couple making their nest in the bush outside our dining room window. That all changed last week when I came home from my walk to find a male oriole feeding at the oranges. It is so much fun having all the different birds visit our yard at this time of year.



Last week my visiting nurse phoned to say that she would be by on Sunday — Mother’s Day — to do another blood draw. The one she took the previous Tuesday showed my white blood cell count to be very low. The weeks prior showed that they had been trending low, and at this point, the doctors were starting to get concerned. So I canceled any plans we had for the weekend, and the nurse came on Sunday afternoon. She went to draw my blood, and for some reason, nothing came out. I started to worry, but she said this happens all the time. She had me do all sorts of acrobatics with my arm, hoping that something would work, but nothing did. So, as long as I had an appointment on Monday with the plastic surgeon, I decided to see if the lab at the hospital could get me in for a blood draw. We got in on Monday, they took my blood, and later I found out that my white blood cells are on their way back up. That was great news.

I am finished with my visits to my plastic surgeon for saline fills in my expanders. I am at the desired level, and won’t go back to my plastic surgeon until two months after radiation, so he can see how my skin is affected.

This past Thursday, I had my followup with the infectious disease doctor to see how my infection is healing, and if the antibiotics are working. My visiting nurse and the nurse in the infectious disease office both told me maybe I would be getting my PICC line pulled. That was news that I loved hearing. I just made sure not to get my hopes up.

When we got escorted into the exam room by two medical assistants, both of them said, “Looks like someone is having their PICC line pulled today!” Mark and I just looked at each other and I was so happy. The doctor came in and said yes, it looks like the drugs worked well and I had my choice: Did I want it removed today, or should my home nurse come by on Friday to remove it? I said, “Today, please.”



It feels so great now not having any tubes coming out of me and to finally have my freedom back. Now I don’t have to depend on Mark for changing my medicine, wrapping my arm with plastic wrap before I shower, or driving me around everywhere. I sort of feel like my old self again.

On Friday, we finally had my appointment with my radiologist to get me mapped for radiation. It was nice to be able to move to this point after it being put off for a while due to my second surgery.

The mapping procedure consists of getting my arms in the correct position over my head and fitting me into a type of beanbag mold. Then they mark my body with ink and tattoo various parts with little dots. The tattoo part wasn’t too bad until she had to do one right in the middle of my chest on the breastbone. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin! I don’t know if I could handle getting a tattoo on purpose.

The other difficult part was after having my arms over my head for 30 to 40 minutes. It was really hard to get them back down. I couldn’t do it. The two technicians had to help me with each arm. The good thing is, when I go back to actually have my sessions, I will only have to have my arms overhead for maybe 15 minutes at the most. I will begin my treatments right after Memorial Day and go for six weeks until just after the Fourth of July.

Thanks, everyone, for continuing to follow along with us.



26 Comments
  1. cindy

    Well u r on the down side now until the surgery. Keep on smiling. :-)

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Yay Cindy, maybe we can get together soon now that my white blood cells are not so low.

      Reply
  2. Linda Surratt

    Such positive things in this episode! Love you and your mom on the special day. Keep strong my friend….

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Yeah I have a lot to be thankful for. I know my mom is so stinking cute in that photo. It’s so wonderful to see how much our great niece Nadine resembles my mom.

      Take care Linda.

      Reply
  3. Cyndy Maldonado

    Yeah so happy to hear the white blood cells are up Say whaat??? white blood cells up in da air Say whaaat??? white blood cells up in da air. Very cool

    Cyndy

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hey girl you are too funny with your chant. I can see you dancing around with your hands up in the air. :) It was great seeing you the other day!

      Reply
  4. Marianne Germinaro

    Amy, I love listening to your video’s and reading your blog. Mark does an excellent job in filming and editing your blog as well as you. It was nice to see my grand daughter Emma and my son Erik on the video when they came for a visit. She is so cute and smart too. Glad to hear your white blood cells are getting back to normal. I pray that the radiation will sit well with you in the weeks to come. I love you with all my heart and want only the best for you my dear sister. You are one strong woman and I know this blog will help others that are going through the same thing you are going through. Love your sister, Marianne

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Aw Marianne you are so sweet. You’re a great big sister, I love you so much. I guess I am strong just like you. :)

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us. We always have a great time when we are with them.

      Reply
  5. gloria

    So glad to hear good reports, Amy. I hope and pray you continue to heal and do well with your radiation.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      It’s great hearing from you Gloria, thanks for checking in.

      I hope things are good with you. Take care.

      Reply
  6. Nancy

    Hi Amy,

    I’m new here. I came upon your blog quite by accident really. I have made my 5 year mark of “survivorship”. I still have my portacath…hopefully in the next few months I will have it removed. You are such a breath of fresh air! What an encouragement you are to others! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I will be thinking of you as you begin your radiation treatments.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Welcome Nancy it’s nice to hear from you. I always love hearing from fellow survivors. It must feel good to be at the 5 year mark.

      Wow that was a long time having your port in. I never minded having mine and would have liked to keep it a little longer for the treatment of my recent antibiotic. Oh well you just never know what is coming up next.

      Take care and thanks for checking in.

      Reply
  7. Rhonda

    You are looking so vibrant and energetic. I am so happy that you are making new progress and have much more freedom of movement. Enjoy the coming beautiful weather. Love and Prayers.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Yeah this is such a wonderful time of year. I am so glad I am done with my chemo and will be able to enjoy the beautiful weather.

      Take care,
      Amy

      Reply
  8. Maria

    Nancy is right – you are such a breath of fresh air! Life deals us all so many crazy things. When many of us would be throwing in the towel and jumping off bridges your strength and grace exposes our foolishness for what it is. Thanks to you and Mark for letting us peek inside and better understand the big picture. (And doing such a great job of it, by the way) It is clearly such an inspiration and is making a real difference in so many lives. I no longer have so many ‘bad’ days. Now they are ‘WWAD’ (what would Amy do?) which usually results in a smile or looking on the bright side. (You know, like the Monty Python song ; ) Thanks!

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Oh Maria you are so stinking cute (WWAD?). I love your comment it made me teary eyed.

      Yes the Monty Python song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” has been a constant soundtrack in my head through all of this.

      So what else can you do but push forward. :)

      I love you so much. Thanks again for all of your support.

      Reply
  9. Bridgett

    Hello My Friend, as always loved reading your last Blog and Finding out where your at w everything and how you are doing! So glad you had a Great Easter and Got the tubes all out! I Have some of the next few days off and if your up to it would Love Love Love to meet for a walk so we can catch up some more? Love and miss you very much and as always – Thanks for the Inspiration ;-)

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello my sweet little Bridgett, thanks for checking in.

      I would love to get together with you. I was hoping we could do that seeing that I will be down by you when I get my radiation.

      Take care.

      Reply
  10. Steven Leff

    Loved the picture of Aunt Carol and you at your first communion. This is how I always remember your mom…always smiling with welcoming eyes…such a great lady. It’s amazing how much you and Marianne look so much like the pictures….that’s not always the case. You are still always in my prayers.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hi Steve, My last memory of my mom was her beautiful smile and her welcoming eyes. I cherish that vision of her. She was the best. – Yeah I also think that I kind of look like Marianne in a few of those pictures. I feel honored because she is such a beautiful woman.

      You take care and thanks for keeping in touch.
      Love,
      Amy

      Reply
  11. Barbara Barrow

    Amy, don’t usually go in on this website and found out about you having breast cancer. I too had cancer about 3 years ago, although not breast. It was my second attack. The first one was 14 years ago. You sound like you are doing good. I’m pleased for you and will keep you in my prayers. I will keep in touch.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Well hello Barb it’s so nice to hear from you, I think of you often. I am sorry to hear about your cancer, I didn’t know that. I hope you are doing well. I always enjoyed our times together with Mary Kay :) .

      Thanks again for checking in and take care.

      Reply
  12. Amy Evans

    Hey Amy,

    So happy that infection cleared up. I was worried. That was scary! You always seem so at ease about everything. You have a calming way about you. I remember it well. You always make me feel better. It sounds like your on the road to recovery. Can’t wait for this all to be over. Love you and miss you!

    Love, Amy

    In other news…….Melissa and Ryan came to Vegas for a visit! It was so nice to catch up and talk about old times. We had so much fun.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Hello there Amy, it’s always so nice to hear from you. I too am glad the infection has cleared and I am free to be me again. :) I do usually remain calm but there were a few times during the six weeks of having my PICC line that I became frustrated. But, that’s all behind me now and I am plugging away thru my radiation. I will be glad when all this is over.

      I am so glad that Melissa and Ryan got out to see you guys, I bet you had a lot of laughs. I know how much fun we all had together at the “Panty Ranch.” I would love to see you if you ever make it back here anytime soon.

      I love and miss you Amy.

      Reply
      • Amy Evans

        I wish we were coming there this summer. I’d love to see you and give you a big squeeze! We are not coming this summer. We went to Disneyland instead. It cost a small fortune!

        Love you, thinking of you always!!!

        Reply
        • Amy Czerniec

          I bet the kids had a fabulous time at Disneyland, but whenever you find yourself back here in WI please let me know and we can try to hook up. I would love a big hug from you. :)

          I think of you often. As a matter of fact I just saw Toni today at my radiation treatment. Every time I see her of course it brings back so many great memories of you, Melissa and Lynn. :)

          I love you. Have a great summer.

          Reply

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