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 (which is boxing / pilates / dance), 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

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 3rd and 4th 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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