Lumpectomy Surgery Advice

Hi. I have invasive ductal bc triple positive and just completed 4 months of neo-adjuvant chemo -6 rounds of Doxetaxol and Carboplatin, and Phesgo injections alongside, which continue for 18 rounds in total, with a good response. My goodness was that gruelling, didn’t think I’d make it through at times with my blood levels being so low all the time (the Oncologist dropped Carboplatin after the third round after I was hospitalised with v low HB and platelets) and all the other side effects involved, but I did and that bit is done now. Next will be a lumpectomy next Wednesday 25th October, then radiotherapy after that. I’ve been so focussed on coping with the chemo that I hadn’t really looked for too long at the next step, surgery. I am still v weak and breathless from low HB, no transfusion happening though as it isn’t low enough for the Onocology team sadly, but the pre-op assessment lady seemed happy for me to go ahead. Has anybody had surgery whilst still feeling pretty rough after chemo and have low blood levels? I’m concerned about not being stronger after chemo, although keen for it to go ahead with it being the main form of treatment; will be good to get rid of the lump at last I have to admit. I am eating so healthily, iron rich foods all the way too, have been since diagnosis back in April, but I’m struggling to go for walks due to the breathlessness, so not sure what else I can be doing to help myself really. I haven’t left the house much since chemo started in June, only to go to the hospital and other medical appointments, so am keen to start taking my life back a little bit now.
Also, does anybody have any tips in regards to surgery itself? Any particular post surgery bras worked and any advice to help myself heal afterwards. At the moment it is a lumpectomy with SLNB but I know things can change after pathology and mean more surgery. I’ve heard butterfly pillows can be helpful in armpit pain relief and also is it worth buying some more pillows to sit me up a bit so I’m not lying flat at bedtime?
Sorry for going on, just feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all and completely unprepared for the next stage of treatment after chemo. Thank you for any advice or help offered.
Wishing everybody all the best, we are certainly all amazing, strong women.


It’s understandable you have concentrated on your chemo so far. I think ( hope ) you will find the lumpectomy a lot less demanding if all goes to plan . Having had other surgery I was really surprised how straightforward it was and how quick the recovery was- I was back driving after 2 weeks . I was in surprisingly little pain . The most uncomfortable part was the SNB wound as this is far more sensitive than your breast ,also you stretch the skin when you move your arm and it’s damp too .Pillows to help get in a comfortable position are helpful and also gentle wipes to keep your armpit clean .On return journey from hospital have a pillow or cushion to put across your chest as the seatbelt goes right across your wound - the journey home was really uncomfortable .
You are likely only to be in for the day but when you get home you are quite groggy and tired , so if you can have someone with you first 24 hours that’s a help and simple easy to eat food for first couple of days too
Oh and remember a dressing gown and slippers even if you are not staying in - they usually have you walking down to theatre in your clinical gown with your underwear on show !!! .Best of luck Jill x


Hi, I had a lumpectomy & slnb last Thursday 12th October, I was also surprised by how straightforward it was, so far waiting for the results is the hardest but trying to keep :crossed_fingers:for these. I have been using a small cushion under my arm to sleep at night but haven’t needed to take any painkillers that I was given. I started my exercises the day after surgery as I was told to do and these haven’t been a problem. I was lucky to be operated first that day and was discharged at 1pm the same day and felt fine. I know not everybody will feel the same as I did after the op but stay positive and remember they are removing the visitor you do not want inside you. Good luck for next week, sending you hugs :hugs::hugs:


I bought a couple of Boody bamboo pull on bras which we’re supportive (I’m a 34DD) and comfortable. I found it easier at first to step into the bra and pull it up. I wore a pair of jogging pants for my trip home as I didn’t want to be fiddling with zips and buttons. I was lucky that a local Breast Cancer charity gives you a bag of goodies which included a butterfly cushion and I found it invaluable in the car. After the op I found it difficult to shower or bathe without getting the dressings wet, so used flannels for a strip wash instead. I was given an exercise sheet and at first couldn’t push as far as it advised but a physiotherapist friend told me to hold the position I could manage for 5 seconds and gradually I got there.


Good luck with your results .

Thanks Jill. Really appreciate your support and advice. I will certainly take my dressing gown and slippers! Good tip about the cushion for the car too, I wouldn’t have thought of that. Yes, I’ve heard the SNB wound is uncomfortable and sensitive, and I do remember when I had the biopsy before diagnosis, it was under my armpit that hurt more than my breast.
I was going to make some soups and casseroles and freeze them ahead of next week, so will definitely do that now, to help post op.
Thanks again for replying, I feel a bit steadier again, like it is doable after all.
Hope you’re doing well and fully recovered from your operation now. Best wishes.xx

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Hi Chillout. Thanks for your reply. You’re doing so amazingly, well done for getting through the operation okay and doing the exercises too. Hope you continue to heal so well. Good luck with results -the waiting is just so hard. Take care.xx

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Hi Krtea. Thank you. I’ll definitely look at Boody bamboo bras -I’m also a 34DD. Hope you’re doing well now. Best wishes.xx

Hello You have been through such a lot, I was given a heart shaped pillow by my breast care nurse and it is amazing am still using it just for comfort. M&S front fastening bra for post surgery was and still is very comfortable, I still wear it when I go walking. I spoke to my oncologist on Monday and he said research shows that taking lymph glands out is no better than treating them with radiotherapy so you may find they do not take them out.

Take care, but the surgery actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was expecting, and the M&S mastectomy bra was really comfy

@Nellby73 - I had surgery followed by chemo and found surgery far easier to recover from. I wore a front zip up sports bra from sainsburys - was really comfy and supportive, its like a sports bra but not tight. Also inexpensive. Remember to wear a top that buttons / zips up for after surgery, you wont want to be putting a t-shirt on after. I wore jogging bottoms and a zip up hoody, simple to get dressed after. I would second taking slippers / dressing gown, that walk down to surgery is breezy without :slight_smile: Take something with you to keep you busy, you don’t know what number you will be on the list and may need some distraction.
I had a v-shaped maternity pillow to help support me after, sitting up in bed or sitting on the sofa. It made a huge difference, and helped me to sleep. I have used it so much, and still use it now sitting up in bed, 18 months on …
Start your exercises the day after, it really does help with the healing.
Wishing you well for the surgery - and hope it all goes to plan xx

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I had a double lumpectomy with SLNB’s in July. As others have said slipper and dressing gown, something to read or listen to as most likely just day surgery. I was sick after but still went home at 8pm.

You will need a soft bra for several weeks, bc nurse said need to go home in as it stops breasts moving and damaging wound, need to wear until outpatient check up 3/4 weeks post surgery. I’m 36DD/E and needed them for 8 weeks at night, probably didn’t really need that long but felt more supported and it was both breasts for me so only back sleeping. Some find side sleeping uncomfortable even with one side I was told. I bought 2 packs of 2 from George at Asda for £15. Soft and comfortable, supportive at night. I did find the more i walked the more I needed a more supportive bra so went to M&S for fitting. Had a non wired full support bra x 3, advised not to wear underwired.

I’m now 3 months post surgery and didn’t get much information on scars, but have found a charity called Penny Brohn and they offered a scar workshop. It was really helpful, done over zoom so accessible for all UK. It was even mentioned the scarring from radiotherapy which I had not even considered as I’m on chemotherapy and Herceptin now and not due radiotherapy until later in the year. I bought bio oil but they recommend organic rosehip oil.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and advice. All of it has really helped me to hold my nerve, see that pwople do get through it and hopefully it will be straight forward and not has demanding and gruelling as chemo, thanks @dianeta. I purchased a pack of two front fastening soft sports bras from Asda today which felt comfy when I tried them on, so hopefully they’ll do the trick. Definitely going to look into a maternity pillow, thanks @Watcher72, and organic rosehip oil, thanks for the link too @naughty_boob. Hope the chemo goes okay and the radiotherapy later in the year too.
Good luck to everyone on your journeys, thanks for the support. We are all brave women, proud of how we all support each other, have created a community together.
Best wishes. Helen.xx


The Cancer Research Shop sell post surgery bras. I bought a couple of the Theya Peony front fastening bamboo bras. They are super comfy and i still wear one at bedtime since my mastectomy in January 2022. Also, buttoned up shirts/cardigans/pjs or zipped jumpers are a good option for a while.

Try to go for short walks before your surgery, even if it’s up and down your street or around your house. Walk as much as you can after surgery and definitely start your post surgery exercises asap. They will stop you stiffening up and as a bonus tone your tummy.

Wishing you well and all the very best.
Lisa Xxx

Hi Helen,

I bought a Royce button up the front bra from John Lewis. You may be able to get them online. It was expensive but the comfort and feel is great.

Also, at my hospital, Friends of Anchor, a cancer charity, gave me a heart shaped cushion on the day of my lumpectomy. It tied around my neck and sat under my arm to protect the breast area.

Good luck with everything. xx Tough

Thanks so much @Lilly3 and @Tough for your suggestions, much appreciated. I have bought a couple of front fasting comfort bras from Asda, but will bear in mind the Cancer Research shop and Royce for any further purchases. I’ve also got a button up pair of pyjamas and a couple of zipped jumpers to help me at first.
Yes, I’ve heard doing the exercises from the day after is really important to staving off stiffness and to aid healing too. I’ll try my best with them, one of the few things I will be able to control I guess. I’m seeing my breast care nurse tomorrow and she’s going to go through everything that will happen on Tuesday with my operation. I was told it was going to be on the 25th (Wednesday), but it actually was Tuesday! Doesn’t matter though as the sooner the better I guess, needs to be done and it will feel good to have the lump finally remove, after all these months going through chemo first. I am anxious and a bit scared but keen to get it done too. I have bought a v shaped maternity pillow just in case the breast care nurse doesn’t give me a cushion to help protect the area and ease discomfort.
Thank you everyone for all your support.xx


Just mentioning open fronted pjs which are essential, reminded me that I bought a few long sleeve fully buttoned shirts that I lived in while recovering as it was easier than pulling tops. over your head. About £15 from Primark.

The zip jumpers sound like a good idea now it’s a bit cooler.:smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Be thinking if you on Tuesday.

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I was straight into crop tops day and night after my lumpectomy.

But what surprised me (should it have done?) is what bra to wear in the next few months.
My SNB scar was EXACTLY where my normal bras came up to so they were unwearable for months as they irritated it - crop tope come higher in the arm pit so covered the scar and did not rub.
Also my lumpectomy was done via my areola - so again could not wear a bra that had a seam inside the cup.
I am afraid I lived in crop tops for months! I did find some seamless bras in M & S, but they had to wait until the SNB scar had healed properly.
You may not get any pain in the armpit - I didn’t and never did any exercises because I was moving as normal.
It’s interesting about showering/bathing - it depends where you live I think. I was not allowed to shower for a week when I could take off the dressings and after that it was carry on as normal.
I am afraid it did take them 3 goes to get rid of the blighter - and it was quite small! So with an op a month for 3 months you can see why the crop tops and I became a fixture!

Hi Everyone! Just to let you know I had the surgery on Tuesday (after an 8 hour wait to go to theatre -eek!), and it went well. The pain and soreness are more than manageable as are the exercises. I had paracetamol after every session of them on the first day but since then, I just have ibuprofen at bedtime to help me sleep. The bra and horse shoe shaped cushion the breast care nurse gave me are both working well, as are the front fastening comfort bras from Asda. I’ll be taking off the dressing and steri strips on Tuesday which feels a little bit daunting in regards to the length of scar and general look and shape of my breast, but hopefully I’ll feel okay about it. I know it won’t be the final product and I’ll need to be patient, see how it looks in a few months time.
Back into the waiting game now, see what the histology results show. So far there hasn’t been any evidence of the nodes being involved (had ultrasounds on them as well as a fine needle biopsy back in April which was negative), but there are no guarantees as we all know, and it could be in the micro cells. I’ll find out in 2-3 weeks time and have to take it from there in regards to more surgery and how many sessions of radiotherapy. The waiting is interminable and this is probably the most anxious waiting for results I’ve felt since the original diagnosis. However, I am grateful and relieved the lump has now been removed though, that does feel good, like a weight has been lifted. Felt weird to do it this way round, chemo first (damn you HER2) but thankfully it’s been evicted now.
Thank you to everyone who supported me running up to surgery as I was v anxious about it all, but having heard your stories and journeys it helped to calm me down and reminded me that I’ve got through chemo, which was a lot more gruelling and tough. Also thank you for all your tips and advice. Meant a lot to know there are so many people I don’t even know who are in my corner, supporting and rooting for me.
We are truly amazing, best wishes to all of you.xx


So pleased all went well even with that long wait.

Wish you a speedy recovery. Once everything has healed don’t forget to massage the scar the cut and removal can be very deep. I used bio oil but I did a scar therapy session with a Bristol based U.K. cancer charity and they recommended Rosehip oil.
I didn’t realise how lumpy it could be under the skin not just the surface scar. Massage from 6 weeks but you can smooth oil in surface once everything healed on the outside.

I am HER+ so a year of injections also. I had surgery first now on chemo with Herceptin 7/12 done! The surgery after hearing my margins were clear and no lymph node was wonderful to hear. Obviously the chemo, Herceptin, radiotherapy (end of year) and Letrozole is the mopping up!

:smiling_face_with_three_hearts: There are so many wonderful people on these forums who you are unlikely to meet but offer you love, support and somewhere to rant if you need.


Thank you for all your support, so v much appreciated. Hope the chemo is going well. You’re already over halfway which is great. Keep battling, you’ve got this.xx

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