physio after wle??

I am an amateur drummer, and its very important to me. After my last set of biopsies i bled a lot and the cancer nurse told me to stop drumming.

i now have an WLE scheduled, which might include nodes, depending on what they find. they said 2 weeks to 4 weeks to recover, but the nurse said, you will have to stop drumming till you feel well.

Disaster!! i know my first priority is my health, and i want to give myself a chance to heal properly, but I also want to get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. There is some physio offered at the hospital, but i was wondering about getting some private consultations, so that someone can on a one to one basis monitor how quick i am healing and how to get me working again.

what experiance have people had of getting back to normal activity if they only needed surgery?? Driving, golf, tennis, piano playing? and has anyone had physio to help them. (there seem to be leaflets on what exercises to do, but i am talking about something patient specific)

Hello there, I’ve seen your band on the previous thread and loved it so can understand - I am a singer so music in the bones but luckily not so directly affected by the surgery!! My experience of private physio was very very good - and the hospital physio was so rudimentary as to be almost useless - as you say not at all patient specific. The hospital physio lasses were very sweet but very busy and very inexperienced and unsupervised - one even tried to wake me up from anasthetic after 2nd op - mx- to do my physio…I wasn’t very polite!
So after I developed cording from my first op -WLE and lymph removal - I went to a private physio and also went back to pilates classes. Both were great - the physio was really clear about how and when to push myself and when to take it easy. Also she said that one of her biggest client groups is women after breast surgery so I felt in very good hands…
today I swim a kilometre for the first time…thanks to her,
best Nicola

Old and lumpy, i had node removal was home on the same day and drove the next day. Was told off by the district nurse for swinging my arm around to much and told she hadnt seen anyone with so much movement in there arm after this op. The thing is I need my arm for my dogs and my horses and so i visualised my lymph nodes healing and repairing themselves. I dont even really think about having had the op ive just got on with my life, however do be careful if it feels right do it. I wouldnt advocate it for everyone but you seem highly motivated. I was terrified of getting lymphodema touch wood so far as its early days, i did the exercises for the first week, now i just do what i do every day making sure my arm is stretched out. Hope that makes sense. Dont go drumming to soon but hope your back to it fast.


I’m a piano accordionist. Like you in a band. Had WLE on left side and 10 nodes taken. My left arm is the one which does most work when I’m playing my accordion, pushing and pulling the bellows in and out and it does take some strength to do that. Bearing in mind my accordion at the time weighed over 2 stone.

I saw the physio just before I had my op, on the same day, miraculously I remembered what she said, my brain wasn’t working too well that morning!! Anyway afterwards I did the exercises she showed me, she also gave me a leaflet about exercising. I’d already asked the consultant if I would be able to play after my op, and she said it was good exercise for my arm.

Obviously for a while after the op you don’t feel like doing much but as soon as I felt OK to do so, which was probably a couple of weeks I started playing again and was fine. I took it steady and initially just played for a few minutes at a time gradually increasing the time until I was sure I was OK.

I have to say that I was expecting the whole thing to be much worse pain wise and mobility wise. There were 5 of us in my village dx at the same time and only one who had to have regular physio afterwards and that was because she didn’t do her exercises.

I think you need a bit of common sense but you sound like someone with loads of that. I’ve been following your posts and admire the way you are dealing with the whole BC issue.

Good luck to you.

If you are having WLE I don’t think you will need physio as its just the breast area which although sore won’t affect your movement. They didn’t even give out an exercise sheet as they said for the WLE on its own it was not necessary. I had a very bad experience with mine and ended up in hospital with an infection, but within two weeks I felt fine.

If however, you have to have your nodes removed, thats a different matter and yes physio would be a good idea, and I know they give you exercises to help.

Unless they find invasive cancer, they won’t do a SNB, so what will happen is they will test the tissue that they have removed and then if it turns out to be invasive you will go back into theatre to have the SNB biopsy.

I was a bit miffed that I had to go into surgery twice, but was told its standard practise in all hospitals not to do the SNB until they know there is invasive cancer. I suppose the only reason they might do that is if they found a huge tumour that they could tell was invasive when they opened you up, but from what I have been told everything needs to be biopsied first before they do that.

Hope this helps.


I agree 100% with Moorcow - Pilates and private physio were invaluable. The physio I got at the hospital immediately after surgery was rushed and rudimentary, even though I was a private patient at a private hospital. I’ve been going to one-to-one pilates classes and gave my instructor a copy of the BCC exercise leaflet so she knows what I’m trying to achieve, and that’s been really helpful. I ended up having physio sessions because I found that my pectoral muscle was stiffening up due to the rads, and that has also helped.
Sarah x

i am sure i was told that they will be using a die earlier in the day so they can find the right sential node to test, and then depending on what they find whilst I am under they will just take the lump, or take some or all of the nodes under my arm.

I was asking when i could start drumming and they said either 2 weeks or 4 weeks after the op depending on what we have to do.

perhaps its different for different hospitals or for different kinds of cancer.

Thanks for the info on the accordian playing. My sticks are not at all heavy and drumming cannot be anywhere near as taxing as that.

So from the comments so far, if its just WLE then I dont need physio, but if its nodes it would be a good idea.

there is a center up the road that specialises in sports injuries and post operative care so i might just check them out in case I need them

Hi there i just had wide local excision two weeks today, yes they do put in the dye when you are in the theatre so you dont know anything about it until you wake up again.This dye shows up the sentinel node this will get removed with the one against it.

Then when you go to the toilet it will be blue for 24 to 48 hours I have done all the exercise they gave to me on a leaflet and so far i have been fine my incisions have started to heal real well

Just waiting to go back for my results next friday wish it would hurry up it is such a long time to wait


I have horses and dogs Had WLE and 4 nodes removed went home same day was back walking dogs and driving 2 days after op wasnt given exercises to do. Took a bit longer to get back to mucking out horses (a week) I found lifting heavy water buckets was the only thing I couldn’t do moving arm to fork straw etc wasnt a problem.

Good Luck and keep on drumming!!!


Alliemay when I had my SNB, I had to go to the nuclear science department the day before to have the nodes mapped and the dye was put in that was the day before which was done with a needle, but t didnt hurt. It was done via a scan. During the operation they use an instrument which finds the nodes that have been highlighted with the dye. My mum had the same thing the day before too. Maybe some hospitals do it differently, but even if it is done the day before like mine, it was no where near as bad as I was expecting lol xx

Hi Oldandlumpy, I think a lot will depend on where your scar on your breast will be. I have had the same procedure as you’re due to have and my scar is underneath in the crease of my boob and as my bazookas are quite large I found this fairly sore as I still feel some “drag”, if you know what I mean. Saying that, it’s 7weeks now since I had the op. and things are much easier but if I do anything too strenuous my armpit and side of breast are pretty sore at the end of the day. I was given an exercise booklet and DVD and found this helpful, but TBH I had more or less full use of the arm within a few days of the op. I drove after a week, but mine is the right hand side, perhaps left hand side ops may find it harder to drive,. As for your drumming I think you may need advice on that as it seems to be a fairly strenuous activity! and this is where a physio could help you. Good luck xx

YoungAndFunky, I think more significant than the WLE on your breast is the node area. If you are having just sentinel nodes removed for testing, and they don’t have to take too many, then you are in a much better position than if you have to have more nodes removed.

In any event, it might be worth you getting a copy of the exercise DVD that BCC have put together, just in case you end up needing it.

Do you know what your op will be? WLE and sentinel node, or a deeper node clearance? You might want to check with your BCN to find out.

I had left WLE and just SNB rather than node clearance. I didn’t drive for 2 days afterwards because of the anaesthetic, but was back to driving perfectly normally and had normal arm movement pretty much straight away. I was also advised by my surgeon to wear a very supportive sports bra for 21 days post surgery, she said it helped greatly in “keeping things in place”. That said, when I lay on my side my boobs moved sideways, so I stuffed a rolled up sock in my cleavage! Not the most glamorous look, but then again, neither is a sports bra in bed…

after first op told not to drive so I went off on my bike instead, later told by nurse that this should also have been on don’t do list because of vibrations!( Worth noting that if you drive after being advised not to you insurance is invalid.) After second op arm movement very restricted even though I did all excercises however my gp referred me for physio so I had 6 one to one sessions which though torture moved things along.

I am seeing my breast nurse on friday after my admission check to properly go through the proceedures, but both my husband and i think that i will have die administered in the morning, have a WLE and sential node done in the afternoon and depending on what they find there and then may or may not have nodes taken. Aparantly not all hospitals can do the pre-operative proceedure and because of my problem with needles I was offered the option of a different die whilst i was asleep, but the said they could get more information during the op if I went for the more modern approach and so that is what I am doing.

if its just wle and SN i wont bother with physio, but if the take the ones from under my armpits I will get them in as soon as i get home.

sports bra—yes they did mention that, and sombody on here mentioned a bean bag pillow to rest your boob on–must get them sorted.

Hi oldandlumpy, I had my WLE and SNB 2 1/2 weeks ago now and to be frank am fed up with the whole bloody thing. I think I may not be a normal case so don’t be disheartened but I am struggling! The actual WLE is no bother at all, I can hardly feel that and have never been in pain from it - the scar is healing very well so that is all good. The SNB is a different matter - the actual scar is again healing well but I have a seroma (?) which is a build up of fluid - it feels like I have a satsuma under my arm pit and it was massive - my breast care nurse drained it on Thursday but it has gone back up again although not quite as big. It puts pressure on the wound which is where the pain comes from. Would be interested to know if anyone else had this problem. I also have a very sore upper inside arm which is sensitive to touch so I am finding getting comfortable a big issue especially at night. I think everyone’s different so I am hoping you’re back drumming sooner than you think. I am trying to run around after the children and am used to being so active so this sucks at the moment - I think the exercises they give you will help and if you think physio would help then go for it. Hope all goes well for you. x

Hi sunflower

I’m afraid a persistent seroma is quite common - I can’t remember the exact details but I think I had mine drained 5 or 6 times over about three weeks. They do usually settle though. But keep going back and getting it drained - it will ease the discomfort.

finty x

I forgot to mention, a lot of people have found some comfort with a small soft cushion under the affected arm. I know someone who was very efficient and sewed some ribbon on it so she could tie it over her shoulder and wear it like a sort of handbag so she didn’t have to hold it in place, and that worked very well for keeping the pressure off the SNB incision for the first week or two while it settled down.

now i am totally confused. I have pulled out the drawings the consultant made and the node they are after is on my chest not under my arm. he showed the die working up from my nipple past the lump to there. my lump is just above the nipple.

I thought they were going to examine that one on the spot and then decide what to do about the ones under my arm. will ask the nurse when i see her friday.