Pianist needs advice on LD reconstruction option - should I go ahead

Hi, my surgeon is recommending an MX with LD reconstruction.
I am slim, and sporty and do weights classes. More importantly, I play the piano (often up to 3 hours a day) to a reaonably high standard.
I’m terrified with an LD I’ll lose the fine motor function I need to control my left arm. And if I have to sit at the piano for 3 hours, there’s a chance I won’t be moving my back very much either.
Are there any pianists out there who’ve had LD reconstruction (or removal of the lymph nodes in the axilla), please please could you let me have your feedback.
Or I’d love to hear from any musicians who’ve had LD reconstructions and how it’s affected your playing.
The alternative is an implant, but my surgeon is into LD reconstructions.
What do you advise? Surgery is in May … .
Many thanks, Rona

Hello Rona,
I had a lumpectomy and full ANC (left side) and was worried I wouldn’t be able to play the violin again afterwards. However, I did the post surgery exercises 3 times a day and have good movement. A physio advised me to “pump” my left arm if I was playing for a long time. I started slowly and built up gradually and so far so good Best of luck and hope it all works out for you. Have a look at bmc.org/patients/stories-breast-cancer-Alexandra.htm

Nora x

Hi Rona, I am a very poor player of the piano who has had mx, ANC and LD reconstruction. It has made avsolutely no difference to my fine motor skills whatsoever… in fact I play as badly as before the surgery ;-).

Seriously, the impact has been minimal. I sometimes get a bit of tightness across my back if it is very cold or damp, but otherwise I can do anything I ever did, except that the risk of lympohedema means I avoid very heavy lifting and very repetitive exercise is potentially a lymphoedema risk. This has nothing to do with LD recon, and everything to do with node removal. Do the exercies daily (for life) and th advice to ‘pump’ your arm if playing for a long time is good.

Hope all goes well and you get a great result.

Dear NoraBatty and RevCat,

Thank you so much for replying. I appreciate your sharing your experiences as I’m dreading surgery and even more, the aftermath. I have a habit of catastrophising, so always imagine the worse.
It’s good to know that there’s life after surgery and that there are happy endings.
It’s interesting to know that it’s the ANC that can cause issues, not so much the LD recon.
I’m still going to see if there is an alternative - maybe implant only, but I don’t know if I’ll have to have radiotherapy post-surgery, which will rule out an implant.
I wish I didn’t have to make all these decisions. I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up and it’s all been a nightmare … !!!
RevCat, I bet you play the piano reasonably well!
Thanking you again for your reassurances.
Best wishes,

Dear NoraBatty,
That article on pianist Alexandra Costin is very inspiring. Thank you for sending me the link.
Best wishes

As RevCat said post surgery exercises are important. You’ve probably already been given Breast Cancer Care exercise DVD and poster breastcancercare.org.uk/upload/pdf/bcc_exercises06_web_0.pdf. The exercises can be a bit challenging the first week after surgery but keep going. I think there are a number of physiotherapists around who specialise in treating musicians if you do encounter any problems. Might be worth asking to having a chat with the physios at your hospital or you could try bapam.org.uk/index.html or csp.org.uk/.
Good luck with the surgery in May. (My surgery was at the end of January this year and I started to play the violin again after about 3 weeks - brief periods and now pretty well back to normal). Take care

Nora