Newbie with lots of questions

Hello All,

What a club this is to be a member of! 

I was diagnosed in March. I have my surgery date now of 5th May. My surgery is NHS but being done at the Nuffield hospital as the district hospital is a Covid hotspot. I’m taking Letrozole too. Obviously with all the virus carry on things have been a bit strange. All the advice about getting suitable bras and button up pyjamas is not really relevant as I can’t go shopping anyway! I don’t think I own a blouse or anything that does up at the front either. How have you all coped?

Due to the size of my boobs I’m having a lumpectomy and a breast reduction at the same time. I’d be grateful if anyone can advise what to expect and how long the recovery is. As you may gather from my username I have horses and am wondering how long it will be until I’m back able to do things with them. 

At the moment I haven’t told anyone other than my husband. He doesn’t seem to really want to talk about it. He’ll talk about the practicalities of appointments and stuff but not the fact that I have cancer. Is that normal?

I can’t actually speak face to face with any other friends or family and it seems a bit abrupt to just send people messages or FaceTime to tell them. I don’t like to worry people when they can’t really do anything. I seem to veer from tearful to ‘It’ll be right’ on a regular basis. I’m always the strong, supportive one amongst friends so find it hard to have to rely on others. 

Thats it I guess! 

Hi Horseylass

Yes, indeed it is a s**t club to join but no one really gets a choice so here we all are, some new, some getting through, some out the other side and some revisiting. I’m out the other side but a mess of side effects :slightly_smiling_face:  

As regards button-front clothes, get online to somewhere cheap like George/Asda. They do comfy sports/comfort bras and excellent pjs at a very good price. I was small-breasted and had a full mastectomy so I wanted tight and firm sports bras. I progressed to comfort bras but eventually had to go specialist for mastectomy bras. But George does those too (post-surgery bras). How did I cope? I nicked a couple of my husband’s shirts and lived in those and joggers for a couple of weeks. The more room, the better, especially if you are sent home with a drain dangling - worth checking if that’s likely.

Husband. Yep. A good one that. You know him best. Mine waited on me hand and foot (it’s not easy doing things attached to a drain) and was great with practical things, even if he couldn’t drive. He was very always supportive but made no emotional connection with the breast cancer at all. He saw me through some very rough times. Once I was well on the way to recovery, I realised that he had made an emotional connection I didn’t recognise - he’d been terrified of losing me, never said, bottled it up, held onto all the horrid things like when I got sepsis, until he cracked. He started being sick every day - as they say, the stomach is the second brain! Fortunately, Macmillan support was available and I lured him into 1-to-1 counselling which really helped him. So my advice is to talk, talk, talk. Don’t let him pretend it’s not important or scary because it is and often partners feel helpless and retreat into denial. It will always work its way out and clout you all hard!

Friends. You need them. You need someone to moan to who will understand or accept the sheer discomfort of boob problems. You may find you have a friend who has an acquaintance who’s been through it - these are the friends you need. You will have a mess of emotional baggage (diagnosis, surgery, recovery, results, then what…) and the more open you can be about it, the better for you. Pretending it’s not important is at best a short-term solution. It still has to be dealt with. This time, you don’t need to be the strong one - do you think less of the friends who need you?? They can Skype, they can send flowers and jokes and mixes, they can listen - even if for now they can’t hug. You’ll probably get a lot of comfort from the horses too but don’t push yourself. Do your exercises repeatedly but let someone else do the horsey stuff for now.

Ok, overload here. Obviously this is not a great time to have to face all this rubbish but you have no control over it so trust your team to have your best interests at heart. Make good use of your breast care nurse - you are never a nuisance - and the nurses here are great to talk to, really knowledgeable and reassuring. And if you feel tearful, have a bloody good cry. It IS unfair and is worth many tears but it will work out ok in the end. Take good care of yourself,

Jan x

Hi Horseylass,

I was diagnosed in March too. Grade 1 ER+  I am on Letrozole, with a view to Surgery ‘later’ after lockdown etc. Sounds like my husband is reacting similar to yours, he doesn’t talk about it. It’s like it isn’t happening. I found it hard telling my kids over the phone, but circumstances the way they are, it had to be done. It’s new to me having people ask what they can do to help. It’s usually the other way round! I hope your surgery goes well when it eventually happens. It would be nice to hear from you afterwards. Pat x

Hi Horseylass,

So sorry that you have to be part of this group.  I was diagnosed in December 2019 and had a mastectomy at the beginning of January.  I am currently having chemotherapy before I have further surgery and radiotherapy later in the year.  My homelife seems very similar to you, my husband has a farming background and is always out working.  Even the day I came home from the hospital after surgery he had stuff to do so left me in my own.  My advice is try and get some food made up (casseroles, soups etc) which are easy for your husband/you to heat up to get you through the first few days.  I was able to make simple meals within a few days. 

My husband initially wanted to talk about things but soon after the surgery he stopped talking about it and now it feels we pretend nothing is happening.  It seems to be his way of coping.  Try and surround yourself with friends or family you can talk to instead of your husband; you will need someone to help you through this emotionally. 

Zip up tops and button shirts are essential, I ordered mine from Amazon and also had my post surgery bra from there too.

I have a horse and although my husband looked after her initially, by day 10 I was able to clean out the stable and give her bags etc.   It gave me some structure to the day and I pottered around at my own pace.  My girl is very calm and gentle and has great stable manners so I know I am safe around her.  I haven’t ridden yet but my girl is fine to be left for a while so I am not rushing into that.  I find spending time outside with the animals relaxing and it is normal so I feel I can forget about what is happening to my body.

Although this is tough you will be able to do things but take it steadily.  You will have good days and feel like you can do a lot and other days when getting up is all you can manage.  You need to listen to your body but you can get through this and I found it isn’t as bad as you first think.

The hardest thing I found is telling friends and family.  At the moment with not being able to see anyone it will be harder to let others know your news.  I hope you are able to find a way to speak to others about what you are going through.

Good luck with everything.