Fatigue after surgery and worried about radiotherapy

Hi all

i had therapeutic mamaplasty and Sentinel node biopsy 2 weeks ago. Follow up appointment this week said tgat all is now clear. Great news. Now on letrazole and awaiting radiotherapy.

im feeling so so tired two weeks after surgery. Seems to have got worse. Is this normal? Absolutely drained and no energy.  I’m wondering if it’s the body’s way of saying it is relieved and can rest now? When will it ease off? 
breast still very swollen and bruised. 
I will have radiotherapy at the end of august. No one has said anything about what time I’ll need to recover post radiotherapy. Can anyone help? I’m a teacher so it’s almost tge summer holiday now and I’m on sick leave. But don’t know what to say to my employer about tge start of tge new term in sept?

im just anxious about tge fatigue. Been far more than I expected after surgery and don’t know how I’ll. be affected and will feel after radiotherapy at tge end of the school summer holiday…

what have your experiences been? 
thankyou for helping me x

Hi Denise…I was fine after surgery…then had chemo which brought a host of side effects but not fatigue… the rads fatigue didn’t hit until 2 to 3 weeks after I finished radiotherapy.….But it hit me hard…li was wiped out most afternoons…l went back to work 6 weeks after my last radiotherapy session on an 8 Week phased return….but by then letrozole side effects had set in and I’ve been fatigued ever since( 18 months now) ….I manage it best I can but work are good….I work from home 3 days a week and can take time out as I need it……you don’t really know how you are going to be ….hopefully you will be ok….but I would say don’t go back until you feel ready because once you’re back many peoples expectations are that you are fit for work and will hit the ground running…l.which isn’t the case at all…wish you well

Hello @Denise2022  

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis and welcome to the club no-one chooses to join, but is full of very lovely people

I was diagnosed 12 months ago last week and had a lumpectomy and SNB on 23 July 2021. I had my radiotherapy in October and returned to work as a lawyer in January

12 months ago I really didn’t appreciate how long it would take for me to feel ready to return to work.  When I asked my BCN she was very non-committal, shrugged her shoulders and said some people work through treatment: I am someone who doesn’t accept help easily and thought because of certain traumatic life events I breast cancer was “just one of things” and that would be me: I was so very very wrong! 

Physically I came through surgery with no issues, I would say it took at least two weeks but probably closer to six before the effects wore off: you are quite right that even though visually your wound is healing and you may not necessarily feel discomfort or pain, your body is expending a lot of energy internally healing you. My mum told me to take vitamin C: when she was a trainee nurse in the 60’s a surgeon told her that he always told his patients to take extra to aid the healing process.  

I appreciate different hospital trusts have different systems and at the outset the Nightingale breast cancer unit in Manchester told me my radiotherapy would be around six weeks after surgery which would have been end of August/September, however the radiotherapy is delivered via the Christie in Manchester and they work on different timescales!

I saw an oncologist in September (who turned out to be my sanity saviour!) at that point I’d come through surgery, healed fine, but was starting to suffer mentally and psychologically: up to that point everybody I spoke to “knew someone who had had breast cancer” but I hadn’t actually spoken to anyone who had been through it. I was then able to speak a friend’s mum who’d had exactly the same treatment as me 20 years ago, I joined the breast cancer group at my local Maggie’s centre and found this lovely forum.  When I asked my oncologist when I should think about returning to work her answer was “when you are crawling the walls and there is nothing else you’d rather be doing” and she was absolutely right! 
I had 15 sessions of radiotherapy in October luckily my only side effect was the fatigue and I didn’t have much of a skin reaction: I still get “tired” days but manage it by continuing to work part-time (I worked part-time anyway) My total time off work was six months which I think is relatively short in breast cancer world  

My advice at this point is take your time, it is highly improbable that you’ll feel ready to return in September and January might be a more realistic timescale (although you may feel up to putting your teacher hat back on a few times before then). I appreciate that everybody’s situation is different (financially I didn’t need to return to work) and I think it is innate in women feel like they are letting others down taking time off sick: my advice is think how you would feel if it was a colleague in your situation, your health is your priority! 

Wishing you all the best in your surgery recovery and the next stage of your treatment 

AM xxx

Hi Denise22

please don’t expect too much too soon. I had lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy in December last year. I then had radiotherapy in March. You will be tired after surgery but just rest and try and give in to it. I think it took about six weeks to start to feel anything like normal. I had infection which needed antibiotics but they soon cleared it up. Radiotherapy in March but not as bad as I expected no skin problems but moisturised every day with aveeno. Must admit though the fatigue was worse than I expected. Tiredness just came over me when I was least expecting it but after a sit down for an hour or so I was ok. That probably lasted about 12 weeks but gradually subsided. 
it is 7 months on now and my breast is still swollen and I still have a seroma but feeling so much better. I am 70 but looking forward to enjoying life again! In fact I’m off on a cruise next week.

keep your chin up it is very early days for you ( and my oncologist told me it can take up to a year for things to settle down) and believe me you will look back on this and wonder how you did it but you will !

good luck 

lots of love