Mastectomy advise

After being diagnosed last Tuesday, I have seen the surgeon today and am due to have mastectomy on Thursday of this week, together with sentinal node biopsy.

I am very apprehensive and wondered if anyone has any advise/kind words that might help prepare me. I am not able to have a reconstruction at the same time so I will have some adjusting to do to get used to my new body shape.

I am also paniking about the chemo and rads that will follow, how soon after surgery does all that start?

Et

Hi Et,

How are you today? This for me was definately the worst part of the whole journey, the waiting for everything to get started. In my experience though the anticipation is much worse than the reality.

I was diagnosed in May 2007, mastectomy and node clearance in June and I started my chemo in July, about 4 weeks after surgery. Then rads about 5 weeks after the end of chemo. I also had Herceptin and I’m currently on Tamoxifen until 2012, so I’ve had the whole lot!

Like you I was apprehensive about the mastectomy (I decided not to have reconstruction) When they were changing the dressing I made myself look at the scar and in all honesty it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I was a bit tearful at times, grieving for what I had lost I suppose but on the whole I was fine with everything. My wonderful husband helped me through it as well as my beautiful little girl, whenever I felt a bit wobbly through chemo I looked at her photo and reminded myself why I was going through all this. You can do it.

I wish you all the very best for Thursday. If I can give you some advice, take all the pain killers that are offered, I didn’t have any pain but still took the tablets to keep on top of things. Take a front opening blouse/shirt for coming home, I stupidly had a Tshirt with me and it was a struggle to get it over my head after the op!! The physio should come and see you the day after the op to show you the exercises you should do to get the movement back in your arm. I found them really alarming and thought I’d never be able to do them but I did after a while, just do a little bit at a time, just what you can manage at first and then gradually build up, you’ll get there. All I could do 2 days after the op was circle my shoulders but it is important to do something, easy does it though.

Chemo and rads is all do-able, there are plenty of lovely people to help you through it. I found the chemo nurses some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, no worry is too trivial. I think an important thing to remember is that we are all individuals and we all react in different ways to treatment but that there is nearly always a solution to side effects so if you are concerned about anything speak to your breast cancer care nurse and they’ll be able to help you.

Also I know that you probably feel overwhelmed at the moment and very frightened but it helped me to take one thing at a time, firstly to focus on the surgery and recovery, then the chemo and so on, I tried not to look forward too much (not very easy at times!!)

If you have any questions at all I’ll try my best to help.

Big hug, you can get through this. I’ll be thinking of you on Thursday.

Take care

Veggie

hi i had mx and node biospy on oct 17th i also was v nervous and i can assure you there is no need to be you will be fine op was over in a hr and was in recovery only a hr in total back into ward within a couple hrs and was out of bed going to loo late eve im suffering a little at moe as i never had drains put in so i had a build up of fluid ans have to have it drained by bc nurse but in all am ok just uncomfy no real pain i was only in for 24 hrs i have also already had chemo had some probs so had to have them first that is the worst part of it i think was very unwell sickness etc but every one is diff im happy to help u through this if you wld like to tc laura xx

Thank you veggie and Laura, it does help to hear other womens stories. I’m feeling a bit tearful today, but I’m glad it’s going to be quick, I am keeping busy getting everything straight at home and also telling people, as I have only told a few close family up to now, so it’s good to be busy and keep my mind off it.

I’ll keep posting and let you know how I get on, and I’m grateful for any support. It’s only on here that I feel I can be honest about how frightened I am, the rest of the time I’m busy being brave so I don’t upset my very tearful, but supportive husband or stroppy teenage daughter who thinks this is all interfearing with her social life too much.

Et

hi et
sorry your a bit tearfull i know how you feal im also the same today im going to have my fluid drained tomorrow cant wait in so much pain i cld scream i can fully understand what you mean about your teananger i have 21 yr old boys one is great one just thinks now ive had op im ok all i kpt thinking was once op is over cancer will be gone thats what kpt me going im not to bothered about loosing boob i no we are all diff but was in so much pain b4 was so pleased to not have any now where abouts are you from im in east sussex my hospital was great surgeon v good try to kp busy and not to worry to much you will be fine laura xx

Hi ET
Just want to wish you all the very best for Thursday. You want to take one day at a time. I had a mastectomy in June. I had the op first thing in the morning. I was able to drink a cup of tea in the afternoon and have something to eat at tea time. I hope you are able to do the same.
Good luck.
Liz

I had mastecomy and lymph node biopsy done last Thursday and am back home recovering. still sore and tired and have chest drain in which is uncomfortable. I’m glad that the op is over now. but apprehensive about getting the pathology report in about ten days time and finding out what will happen next. Still it’s nice to put my feet up and be waited on by the family for a change.

Hi et
I’m glad you are ok and home. The drain is horrible - but at least your op is over. Try not to think about the results - concentrate of getting stronger. Take care of yourself.
Liz

hi et glad y home how r u doing im 3 wks post op now and have had a seroma ive been for my results and glad it was gd news ive got to had rads but only for 3 wks arm still hard to move but i was lucky to not have a drain let us know how y getting on tc laura

Hi et, Had my mx and snb on 2nd Nov, at home now still have my chest drain like yourself. Bit sore at chest drain site, waiting for results, find out this weds. what happens next. Glad you’re home and being waited on by your family. Take Care. einaj

Hi et,

Glad stage one is over for you, take it easy. Do you get your results this week?

Take care

Veggie

Hi et and einaj,

Hope you are both doing ok. I too am getting my path results this Friday (following mast’y 10 days ago)- horrible waiting, isn’t it? I was lucky to get my drains out before coming home - hate those things.

Thinking of you in the same boat.

With love,

Had my chest drain out on Sunday, I caught the tube on the end of my bed and lost the vacume, so went to the hospital and they took it out. I have my follow up appointment on Thursday morning, so will have the staples out then which should be more comfortable. Getting anxious about the snb results now. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

hi et eww that sounds nasty i was lucky no drains for me my surgeon dont put them in but a pain having to kp going to have them drained ive now got cording to which is painfull but going to see physio so hope will be sorted soon gd luck for your results how r you fealing in yourself im a month down the line now feal ok apart from arm tc laura

I got the path report yesterday and it was good news, the
lymph node was clear and they think they got it all, so no more surgery is needed, phew! The cancer was grade 3 and 4cm in size, so I am going to have to have chemo, and am now waiting for appointment to meet the oncologist. The tests came back negitave for hormone receptors but I am still waiting for the HER-2 test result to see if it will respond to herceptin. Although I am not looking forward to chemo I feel relived that the lymph nodes have been saved and am very grateful that a sentinal node biopsy was done instead of having them all removed.
I’m two weeks post op now and don’t feel too bad. I’ve got good mobility in my arm and not too much swelling. The staples are out and the dressing is off. I still feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest by a donkey and am a bit tired but manage to stay awake during the day now. Still trying to get used to the ‘new look’ though!

hi et congrats on results mine were the same im neg on both acounts dont no if this is gd or bad everyone as dif opions my rads due to start on 29 dec no new yr 4 me lol hope your chemo is gd on you i had 3 fec and 2 tax which i went through hell on se where so bad they stopped it early but we are all diff glad im on last treatment be glad to move on had enough now glad your doing well im off to physio sort my cording out have gd weekend laura

Thanks Laura,

I’m sure rads will be better than chemo for you, you maust be glad to be moving on to the next stage. I hope your cording sorts itself out soon. Keep us posted on how you are doing. I noticed after a bath that I still have one staple left in, so have to go back to hospital to get it removed. The nurse missed it!!!

Et

hi et thanks just waiting for physio apt at moe be so gd to bable to lift my arm up going for my new boob fitting thurs hopefully plastic one will be lot better than foam one im not sure at moe about recon they said i cld have it in 7 months what about you are u going to have it done have gd day laura x

Haven’t decided on recon yet. it seems way off in the future, I’ll see how I feel about things after all the treatment is over. I must admit I hate the flabby bits under my arm though. Did you have your chemo before your op Laura? I have first appoint. with oncologist this Friday. It’s all sinking in a bit more now as it feels more real. Let us know how the boob fitting goes, I’m still too sore to even make the appointment yet. I’ll stick to the foam one for now!

hi yea i hate my fatty bit to thought was just me as big boobs lol how u doing now gd luck with onc i gtg 4 physio fri thank god tc laura