Reconstruction options, MRI, neutrophils

by Wednesday, January 29th, 2014Breast Cancer12 comments

T wo of my girlfriends from Circle of Hope, our breast cancer support group in Kenosha, happen to have had the same plastic surgeon that I have. They each underwent a different breast reconstruction procedure. I asked if we could meet up so they could show me what their breasts look and feel like.  I was able to ask whatever questions could help me make my decision.

The Monday before last, Mark and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Cheng, and he went over my recent MRI with us. The tumor appears clearly smaller than it was in August, but as the doctor says, the MRI is just a picture. You can’t be sure how much the cancer has gone away until you remove the breast.

Dr. Cheng also wanted to make sure I was aware that if my neutrophils remain low, my chemo may not go as scheduled. Before my 8th treatment, my levels were the lowest so far at 1.03. Dr. Cheng said if that it goes down to 1.00, my treatment would have to be postponed. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. They provide immunity to infection, but chemotherapy wipes them out along with the cancer cells. I asked if there is anything that I could eat or take to make them come back, and he pretty much said no.  He told me that the only thing to make my levels go up is to rest and stay away from people who are sick.



Mark did a little research and found that maybe vitamin B12 or folate could help. So we have been eating a lot of leafy greens for the folate, plus linguine with clams, and also calf’s liver with bacon for the B12. Who knows if this will help, but I am willing to eat whatever it takes to keep things going effectively.

I did not go to the YMCA at all last week.  I have been watching a whole lot of TV — things like Anthony Bourdain, Hawaii Life, Parks and Recreation, Justified, the Australian Open, The Daily Showand The Colbert Report.

After eating this way and taking it really easy, I was able to receive treatment number 10. My neutrophil level was at 1.06, so not high by any means, but just enough to squeak by. Now I have only two treatments left, and I hope that I’m able to keep right on track.

We met with my plastic surgeon this week, and I have made my mind up to have the DIEP flap procedure. This is where they use my tummy tissue to reconstruct my breasts. So if my next two treatments go as scheduled, I will have surgery 4 weeks later. My surgeon will perform a double mastectomy along with the axillary lymph node dissection, then my plastic surgeon will put in the temporary tissue expanders that will remain through radiation. Then, about a year later, I will have the DIEP flap procedure completed.

I feel much better today having made this decision and having everything moving forward. I just need to stay strong and healthy to keep things moving smoothly.



12 Comments
  1. Janet Dahl

    Glad to see you moving forward, close to the end of these treatments. You are a grace filled tower of power. I know you have dark moments,but your beautiful smile brings in the sun. What a blessing to be “Mark’s best girl” when having a travel companion makes the rough road a tiny bit easier. Love to you. Stay away from the germy parts of life. You are home stretching. Xxxoooo

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Janet, Mark has been a great pilot through all of this. Sitting by my side holding my hand, taking notes, asking questions and being so very protective and always patient. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. :)

      I sure can’t wait to be in the clear with my immune system. The hospital has supplied me with masks and I have been constantly wearing gloves whenever I am away from home. I am beginning to feel like Howard Hughes.

      Reply
  2. Gregory Berg

    Once again, thank you for sharing this with us. It was especially intriguing that we were behind your shoulder as you and your doctor view your MRI results. That was so interesting- and of course it was gratifying to see the encouraging signs. Best wishes from here.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Yes Greg I was so happy that my doctor let us record his explaining the MRI and that the results were so good. I am glad that I was able to share this with all of you. I love my doctor and feel like I am in good hands.

      Reply
  3. lynn erickson

    Wow Amy, great news on the MRI. I just love seeing these videos of you. It makes me feel really connected with you. Thank you for sharing, and I love you!

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Lynn I am glad you like our videos. Sometimes I think “Amy who cares what you are doing”, but then I get a comment like yours and it warms my heart. Thank you for keeping up with our progress.

      I love hearing from you and miss being around you like we used to be. I love you too.

      Reply
  4. Karen Fleming

    Hi Amy – You are almost done with chemo. Just think..if everything goes as planned, Chemo is over Feb 10th. In a dumb way I feel connected to all the people who took good care of you during that time and am going to miss them. And then I think “Karen you dumb as* you never met them”. But I kinda did through you Amy so thanks for sharing all that you have. And I am so proud of my brother. Mark you’re so cute how you take good care of Amy. And I especially loved how you fast forward the video when you and Amy had to lay low inside. We can talk more this weekend!

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Yeah it’s crazy to think that we have been through 20 weeks of this and it’s just about to end. I have learned a lot and wanted to share what I could with the rest of the world.

      I am so lucky to have you by my side. Who would have thought we would be going through this when we met in 8th grade. Karen, I love you so much. And I thank God that I met you because you introduced me to your wonderful brother. He is the best!

      Reply
  5. Linda Surratt

    Seeing and hearing you makes me smile. Happy things are going well! Ah, liver and onions, just like mom used to make, minus the capers. Be well my friend

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Linda I am so happy things do seem to be moving along smoothly. I can’t say that we ate liver much when I was growing up. I remember that being something my dad would eat but we didn’t have to. I liked it fine and will probably have it again sometime.

      It’s good to hear from you.

      Reply
  6. Donna Flannery

    Amy,
    What great news about the MRI results! So glad to see you are comming to the end of your chemo.
    I look forward to your video’s. Mark and you do a great job in making them. You take us with you and share your thoughts and feelings. You take some of the fear out of cancer and the unknown treatments by your video’s. I think it helps to know what a person goes thru.
    Stay strong sister! Love you and Mark.

    Reply
    • Amy Czerniec

      Thanks for the comment Donna I am glad that you feel like you are with us when we go through this process. I hope to help others understand what it’s like to be treated for cancer.

      I was happy to have our sisters Karen and Laurie along with me yesterday, it brought me great comfort. So now I only have one more treatment to go. :) I will keep eating all the things I have been and resting a lot, it seems to be doing the trick keeping my levels up.

      We both love you and appreciate your concern and support.

      Reply

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