Post-quadrantectomy body-image

Hi everyone, been off-line for a while…

I had a quadrantectomy (right spelling?) just before Christmas, and it’s only been over the last week that my breast has gone to what is presumably its new normal size, though the hardness under the scar (on the top) is still there, filling it out a bit.
I am small-breasted and for some reason I thought it wouldn’t make much difference, neither physically or psychologically - a quarter of not-very-much is, well, not very much. But, of course, I can now see and feel the difference between both breasts, and just yesterday and today the mourning of MY BEAUTIFUL LEFT BREAST is kicking in…

I KNOW I’m lucky to still have my breast, believe me I know I’m lucky - but I feel very sad and frustrated, and also that the ageing process (I’m 47) has been given a major leg-up, you know?

PLUS (the frustration part), the onco team still can’t find any malignant cells in the tissue they took out - the explanation is that the malignant part of the tumour was removed in the three samples taken in the biopsy six weeks before the op, but they’re still baffled that the pathologist saw by eye the tumour in the flesh removed, but later it had disappeared, there was no tumour.
My case has totally baffled the surgeon and the pathologist, and they assure me there is virtually no chance of a mix-up with biopsy samples or op tissue. So I’m now left asking myself (and soon them!) whether I had a quarter of my breast removed unnecessarily.

Believe me, I’m immensely grateful to have had the cancer spotted and dealt with so quickly, to live somewhere that this is possible… But I can’t shake this feeling of having lost part of my breast - my womanhood and my sexuality - when I may well not have needed to.

I apologise if this seems totally banal and whiny for all the women going through horrendous situations.


Dear Firecracker

I am so sorry that you had to have that operation and that you have lost a part of you. It doesn’t matter whether you kept your breast or not: it still sucks to have surgery that leaves you feeling bad about yourself, especially if you are wondering whether it was necessary at all. There is no hierarchy of suffering in my eyes, it’s all grim. I haven’t got anything wise or helpful to say, I just feel your pain.

I know what you mean about the feeling suddenly aged and unattractive and sad and frustrated. I think that it is natural to feel angry and upset. Itold the BCN that I did not think sex would ever be the same and that I had lost a part of me, but she did not understand. She said that most women come to terms with it and feel beautiful again, I hope this is true. Meanwhile, you are entitled to grieve.

Jane xx

Thank you, Jane!