Lumpectomy and full removal of lymph nodes

Hi there, 

I am 47 and about 4 weeks ago was diagnosed with breast cancer which has spread to my lymph nodes. I’m devastated but positive.

I have my operation this Friday. With everything which is going on with covid19 I’m sure I’m not the only person who is terrified. 

I’d love someone to reply who’s been through this operation, if they have any tips.

We have many friends who are all being so supportive and encouraging but it would be great to hear from someone who has experience themselves. 

Thank you


Hi Bungula

Sending you hugs - a tough time to be coping with BC and Covid 19.

I had the same op August 2018 - was just in overnight and that was because it was an afternoon op. They try to get you out of hospitals quickly these days. 

Recovery from op was not too long - just having the chest drain was the only thing to cope with really - the op scars settled down and healed quickly. 

Take care of yourself and I hope it all goes smoothly for you - good luck x


HI Bungula, I just wanted to let you know that we are here for you. We have trained volunteers with a personal experience of breast cancer available on our Someone Like Me service via telephone and email. If you would like to speak over the phone to someone who has had a similar surgery experience you can call the Someone Like Me team on 0345 0771893, or see if any of our online volunteers could be of support by following this link here.  Our helpline is also open from 10am tomorrow for information and support on 0808 800 6000. I hope that we can help, Best wishes, Melissa

Hi Bungula

I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation, bad enough at the best of times but possibly additionally worrying right now - however, you won’t know if your immunity will be affected until the histology is done after surgery. Cancer treatment is what puts us at risk.

I had a full mastectomy and full axillary clearance 18 months ago. The operation was in the morning, I was home by 9pm but that was at my request. You need to expect to wake up with a very cumbersome drain attached which will put you off raspberry smoothies for a long time to come. You’ll learn how to manoeuvre yourself around as the days pass. Some hospitals have the good sense to supply you with a carry-bag. Not mine. I resorted to big cardigan pockets, waistbands and the toilet cistern (sitting sideways on the loo).

You may need pain relief. As this is in short supply, make a point of asking the hospital to equip you with what you need till your next visit or to instruct your GP to prescribe pain relief from your pharmacy. I actually didn’t need it. It was more uncomfortable than painful. You may find the outer part of your upper arm feels numb - nerves inevitably get damaged and are slow to repair. You will be shown how to massage your arm to avoid complications. You’ll also be given exercises to do. No excuses. These are essential (I learnt the hard way!).

PJ jackets are essential, rather than pull-on tops or nighties. You’ll also need loose, front buttoning tops till the drain, and perhaps the dressing, are removed. Men’s soft casual shirts are ideal. After this, things become more complicated. Some women like soft sports bras. I’d had an allergic reaction to the adhesive in the dressing so I needed really tight support. A lot will depend on the size of your breast and if you’re having a reconstruction. I happily go round monobreasted without a bra nowadays and I’m 36C.

In the current crisis, you wont be going out and about much so make sure you have plenty on tv. You’ll take nothing in during the first couple of days so forget good books and puzzles. Conversation and TV that isn’t important will see you through. Then you need plenty to keep you busy - but think of the logistics. Your front breast muscle at the least will protest at many activities. 

I am pretty certain virtually every woman who has been through this feels some degree of terror. It’s important to keep things in perspective. Start looking after your emotional health immediately. There are some excellent YouTube videos you can plug into. Practise with them now and they’ll be there to help you when you have to go for your results. Michael Sealey, Good Vibes and particularly Progressive Hypnosis stood me in good stead. They may promise the world or seem airy-fairy but they really do help.

Sorry to have gone on so long (are you asleep??). As I wrote, something more came to mind. Eat well, even when you don’t feel like it, do those exercises and I wish you the very best when you get your node results. I was ‘heavily node positive’ and I’m still here, cancer-free, 18 months on. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

All the best, 

Jan xx

PS. Do not google anything. Ask your questions of your breast care nurse or the nurses on the phone number above. Never ever google unless you’re prepared to handle things you don’t fully understand and statistics that scare the wits out of you! 

i had my second operation 2 weeks ago to remove extra margins and lymph node removal, all went well other than my husband wasn’t able to stay with me at the hospital but the nurses were amazing and i was still out the same day xx hope your operation went well xx 

hi Bungula X 

Big Positive healing hugs to you.

Im in the same position as you, same age and I’ve had the same surgery on Friday. I was Kept overnight as my op was at 4pm and was sent home with a drain and big bottle !!! 

Im quite sore but the paracetamol is helping which I am taking as prescribed along with doing the exercises. I’m also feeling tight around the area. 

Mentally I had a really bad day yesterday but today I am more positive and happy that they have removed the cancer following 7 rounds of chemo I have already had  !!! I get the pathology results in 2 weeks. I’m not stressing about it but I’m more focussed on healing right now. Will deal with the results when I get them. 

Im not wearing a bra just yet but will do so with a softie next week more for my mental state If is comfortable. I’m wearing loose fitting clothes and find it difficult to sleep on my back. 

Hope you are are doing well. We will get through this :two_hearts: :two_hearts: xx