Mastectomy on Friday

I am due to have a mastectomy next Friday and have been told I will be out hopefully on Monday. I am having a SNB at the same time I think but I do not think that I am having a full clearance as an armpit Biopsy found no Lymph node trouble. My Question is for anyone who has had similar operation - how long will I be ‘out of action’
I know everyone is different but will I be able to look after myself quickly or will I need someone with me all the time for some time. I am starting to panic about things like drains and pain and would be grateful for any advice


I had my op two weeks ago yesterday and had bilateral mastectomy, axillary clearance of nodes and immediate recon with expander implants and today feel the best yet-every day I have noticed some improvement and am slowly getting more comfy! I have so far been signed off for a month but I think 6-8 weeks is very reasonable recovery time (of course this does not allow for any treatment after surgery yet)! From my reading and the advice of my BCN and consultants, I would say that an average recovery from surgery is 8 weeks but is so subjective that it’s really hard to tell! I’m only 25 so apparently my age is helping me heal quickly and I def needed someone to help me dress, wash etc for the first 10 days. My partner is still doing a lot as not overdoing things but I am more independent now and mobile!

Hope that helps and all the best for your op!!

Emma xxx

P.S I had my drains for 10 days which is quite a long time because apparently I’m an oozer-nice haha-and would say although they are an absolute annoyance you can still get around but just have to adapt to juggling your bags and some assistance will def be required until you get used to them but you may not even be out of hospital with them so the nurses could do that! I came home with mine and just left household stuff to my partner (he needed training but is doing grand haha) while I was wired up-just about slowly becoming able to do some of these things now!


Hi jaybee46,
I too am having a single mastectomy but with full axillary clearance next Friday (15th). 2 nodes were found to contain invasive cells when I had my wide excision and SNB. I will also be discharged from hospital on the Monday - with drains insitu. As a nurse myself I am experienced in pain management. Make sure you take your pain killers regularly and in particular, try to take them half an hour or so before you have the drains removed as that is likely to be done by the district nurses at your home, and can be a bit uncomfortable.
I am expecting to be able to potter around doing light stuff. It’s a good idea to put your drains into a bag of some sort that can be pinned to your clothes, so you dont have to pick them up every time you move about -I’m making one out of an old T-shirt this week.
It’ll be good to compare notes and support each other as we go through this together. I’ve had my lows like everyone does, but dont panic - we’ll cope.

Thankyou for the comments given. In February I had a radical Hysterectomy so from your comments the recovery time does not seem as long thank goodness and hopefully I will be able to do most things. My husband is good with cooking and cleaning so that is good
Hope everyone is recovering

Hi Janet
Thanks for pointing me in this direction and replying to my note last week. I had a lymph node biopsy last week and it was found to have cancer cells so I now have to return to the Marsden to re-dicuss the “plan of action”. What worries me the most is the clearance of axillary nodes and the prospect of lymphoedema. Reading the other comments is helpful, scary and reassuring at the same time. I have only been in London since February this year and live on my own so am hoping I will be able to cope with all that this throws at me. I will be thinking of you on Friday and sending out “positive vibes” - good luck and ((huggs))

I am out of hospital - had to stay in 2 extra days as I had a haematoma and had to go back into surgery. I came out yesterday - still with the drain in but hopefully I will have it out tomorrow. Not feeling too bad but have lost quite a lot from the drain so I am now on Iron pills. Hope that everything is going well for everyone.Will write some more when I am feeling a bit stronger

Hi Janet
Glad to hear that you are out of hospital now- sorry to hear that you had some hiccups along the way. Re the iron pills take care as they can sometimes cause constipation - put lots of high fibre foods on the menu. Missed your post on Thursday so hopefully your drains are out by now which will make you even more comfortable. Thinking of you.
Diana X

Hi Diana
Thank you for your post . The drain is out now and I am feeling a bit better. Yes - I do know about the iron pills and am taking mild laxatives as I do suffer anyway, but fingers crossed it will be OK. How are you doing - have you any idea when your treatment will start? Hope everything goes well
Best wishes Janet

This was interesting - I’m waiting for my op date, I’ll be having the left boob off, and had asked how long I’d be off work for… (the things I worry about, honestly). My doc said no driving for two weeks, so I’d kind of got that in my head - but, really - what is realistic? I know my work are completely supportive, so I’d rather be honest with them. I’m 41, if that makes any difference!!

Also - I’ve heard about the drains… but what do they look like? What do we do with them? Feeling totally ignorant here, could call my bc nurse… but it’s only reading these posts that have made me wonder! Think I should change my login name to Mrs Oblivious…

Hi triphazard!

I had bilateral mx five weeks ago on Friday and although am healing at super speedy rates and am able to lie on one side where no nodes were taken I am still not quite capable of driving! I was told that in order to decide whether to drive or not you should a) be comfortable to wear a seatbelt correctly b) be able to do an emergency stop whilst wearing that seatbelt without fear you nay hesitate as it would hurt and c) be able to respond quickly! As I have some nerve damage and cording down my arm I’m not quite there yet although am going to give my dad’s automatic a spin next week as it’s my left “gear” arm which is the dodgy one!

As for the drains-I had five on one side and three on the other as I’m an oozed-nice :slight_smile: and they are small plastic tubes which come out of your side which are then joined into bigger plastic tubes which are quite hardy and strong. These tubes feed into a vacuum bit and then into blood bags which you can put in a carry bag to move around! I thought they would gross people out but it was ok they are just incredibly frustrating and get in the way! Hope that helps! Make sure you have button down the front tops sad it’s easier for checking dressings etc but also easier with the drains! This is accurate for what I had but near in mind some hospitals/surgeons prefer different methods so double-check before your op!

All the best! If you have any otherwuestions feel free to message me! Em xxx

Thanks Em! I wonder if my bc nurse has any pics of what the drains look like in situ? Or is that gross?!! Think I’ll have to tell work I’m going to have to play it by ear… I work in a kitchen, so a lot of it is pretty manual, and I have to drive to get there as it’s in the middle of nowhere (as is my village… ). We shall see. Might be a bit of a lean christmas if I’m not working, but I shall just tell 'em all that having mum is their gift, lol. Might just get away with it this year…

My little car is an automatic, which could be good news, as it’s my left side that will be operated on - sounds like the Galaxy may be out of the question for a while after! Funny, I was driving it yesterday and was really noticing how much I need to move my left arm to do so - I’m obviously in no pain at all at present, but I was just really aware of it at the mo.

Em - what is an oozed??? Is there a glossary on this site so I can learn all the abbreviations?!! I talk way too much anyhow, so I’d better learn to condense!! All I can think of is the Oood from Dr. Who, and I’m sure you are far far prettier than that!!!

Hahaha! That’s what happens when I post a comment using my mobile and not my laptop - I meant an oozer although the thought of being an oood a’la Doctor Who has really made me chuckle!! Trust me I’m not that tentacled! :wink:

As for seeing the drains in situ - I never actually saw mine in my side because they were covered by dressings, you just see the big plastic tube coming out and it is filled of fluid (sounds grosser than it is I promise it was fine and totally bearable). I now have little raised red lumps where they were removed which I am using bio oil on along with my scar to take down the marking. Plus I have expanders in so will be changing to a permanent implant after treatment so want to limit the scarring in the area as will have to have the drains again boo!

Eeek - I used to be a chef and I moved on to an office based job and am not back to work and do not think I could be at this stage partly because my job is a little stressful (family lawyer - so not best placed to deal with other people’s problems at the mo!!!). I think you may find it very difficult and should prepare for that as I know kitchen work is very manual! Of course, again, it affects everyone differently but I’m only 25 and, as I say, am told that I am healing a lot quicker due to my age! Not trying to scare you of course but think it would be best to prepare for not working and make arrangements either way - such bad timing with christmas coming up but then there never is a good time!

Oh and by the by, I’m not much of an abbreviation person and definately talk too much and prefer the longer words (you should see my text messages haha) but think there is somewhere on the site that details the ones people use but can’t for the life of me remember where I saw reference to it previously!

All the best!

Em x

Em, that did make me laugh - never even thought of the tentacles on the Oood - but really pretty appropriate when thinking of the drains coming out of your side!!

I spoke with my boss this afternoon, and warned her that I really couldn’t give much idea of time off, said at least two weeks and prob. considerably more, and she was fine - I think she’s so freaked out by the whole cancer thing that I’ll get no trouble at all from that quarter…lol. Every cloud etc etc.

I’m phoning the hospital tomorrow to speak to the co-ordinator lady who is sorting out my pre-op/surgery appts. My bcn said to call Wednesday if I hadn’t heard by then, and it’s doing my head in, all this waiting. I’ll be fine when I know when things are going to start moving!

It must have been a shocker finding out you have bc SO young… I’m gutted for you - can’t imagine having to deal with it in my twenties. At least my husband had already got used to my boobs having gone south - he’s quite intrigued by the thought of a reconstruction sometime next year! Glad you’re starting to feel a load better now - and yes, poss. family law is not the best way to spend your time at the mo!!!

Sophie x

Janet - hope you’re feeling a little better day by day xx My consultant has told me I’ll only be in overnight… which kind of suits me in one way (home is SO much nicer) but is freaking me out a bit if I think on it too much - and of course, my mum was HORRIFIED, lol. It’s really good to hear about other women going through this in ‘real time’ as it were - thinking of you and hoping all is going well.


I have started a post on Undergoing breast cancer treatment for older (post Menopausal)women as we seem to have some different issues to the ones for the younger women. Please join if you feel the same as me and need support from women in the same position
Best wishes

Hi all,
I am now almost 3 weeks post-op (left mastectomy and full axillary clearance). I’m doing well - discharged from hospital on day 2 with a drain insitu. Was soon out and about - on day 4 I had a walk into the village with my drain safely hidden in a shoulder bag (hoped I wouldnt get mugged!). Drain was removed on day 6 - and then the seroma kicked in. I was horrified at first as I thought ths was the beginning of lymphoedema which I dreaded. But it isnt. I’ve had the seroma aspirated at the breast clinic twice so far. It’s reducing gradually, and I’m guessing it will need doing once or twice more. If I had been warned about this I’d have dealt with it in a more relaxed manner - so be prepared!
The other problem I’ve had is ‘cording’ in the left arm. The clinic staff tell you to keep stretching the arm and continue with the exercises, but it feels wrong.However, the last day or so it’s less uncomfortable and I can now straighten my arm above my head without too much tenderness. I wasnt warned about that either, so if that helps someone out there then it’s worth sharing.
My appt with the oncologist is on 8th November when the chemo regime and probable radiotherapy will be discussed (my histolgy report confirmed grade3 BC with 2 positive axillary nodes).I’m already browsing through wig brochures and almost looking forward to a temporary change of identity!

Hi Diana - thank you for sharing your experiences so far - it’s always good to be fore-warned - plus it means those of us following on behind get to ask our medics all the useful stuff - like cording and seroma (which is a word I’ve not heard before!).

Have fun wig hunting! You’ll find one (or more) that you absolutely love, and then you’ll be on of the lucky ones who doesn’t lose their hair anyway!!!

Sophie xx

Hi Diana
Thanks for the update on your progress. I reiterate what Sophie has said- forewarned is forearmed -and really gives those of us “behind” you on the path valuable information and a preparedness that we would not otherwise have. It is one thing to read about it in books etc but quite another to hear about personal experiences. It will be easier for us to deal with (if it happens)- I find this forum a fantastic support. I can only be in awe of all those women who have been before who did not have this facility to support them. How times have changed!
Diana (the other one)

Hi all,
Well in true form I got more than I bargained for yesterday at my first oncology appt. I already knew I needed chemo and rads but was shocked at the duration of treatment I need.
I have to have EC and then Tax (over 24 weeks), then 15 sessions of radiotherapy, - and then 12 MONTHS of intravenous Herceptin because I’m HER2 positive. Everything kicks off 2 weeks today at Christies, so will be hairless for the party season - Woohoo! Thought I might concentrate on having nice nails but was told they too might fall out! Didn’t dare ask about my teeth!
Meanwhile, went back to breast clinic today for my 3rd seroma aspiration. So many appts, so little time! Did I have a full-time job once?
Thinking of you all,