Post surgery fatigue


 I had WLE & SLNB on 22nd April so two weeks ago yesterday. I am still getting very tired so in the afternoons I will just fall asleep wherever I am and then be exhausted again by the evening. I am getting out everyday for a walk so it is not tiredness that comes with being inactive. There is no way that I would be able to go back to work at the moment but a lot of the stuff I am reading seems to suggest two weeks for recovery and I am wondering how many people manage to do that.

There are some additional issues that may be having an impact on my recovery.  First, I have been a lot more physically uncomfortable than I had expected. I am not someone who tends to take painkillers unless really needed but am still needing to take paracetamol at least once a day. I also found out when I saw the surgeon last week that my cancer was not grade 2 as told after the original biopsy, but grade 3. I am therefore now waiting for result of oncotype dx test to assess whether I would benefit from chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy. This possibility came as a quite a shock. I also have a history of heavy periods leading to iron deficiency, which in recent years was managed by a mirena coil.  I was devastated when I was told the coil had to be removed as my tumour is hormone receptor positive. I had hoped that while on the coil, I might have gone through the menopause but this week had my first period for 4 years and wonder if this, along with the surgery, has again affected my iron levels.  I am seeing my gp next week and oncologist the following week but in the meantime I just wondered if any one else is able to let me know of their experiences of fatigue.

Many thanks

R xx

@Rannie  - I had a mastectomy and full node clearance, so not the same as your surgery, but I do remember that tiredness lasting a while. I think 2 weeks is still early days. You are doing exactly the right things, by listening to your body and resting but also taking walks every day. We are all individuals and there will always be some people who recover faster than the “norm” and others who take longer. I certainly couldn’t have gone back to work after 2 weeks, I wasn’t even driving then.

Added to that you’ve got to factor in that you may not have been sleeping as soundly if you’ve been in pain, plus the iron levels. It’s good you are seeing both your GP and oncologist soon - so get a notebook and make a list of questions and concerns so you don’t miss any.

I hope you won’t need to have chemo but if you do then we are all here to discuss it with you and help you through.

My very best wishes to you as you recover - now is the time for lots of “me time” and being kind and gentle to yourself. As @Tili  said in another post now is the time to be queen bee - I love that description. Evie xx

Hi Rannie, 

I had a mastectomy and SLNB at the beginning of April last year, and needed no further treatment.
I think how you are feeling is normal and expected. It’s still so early! Ignore the things online go by how you feel. I too read them and felt like I should be returning to work after 4 weeks. I actually had 10 weeks off in the end. I feel like the two week thing online refers to the incision being healed over, which really doesn’t mean that much as there’s still lots going on beneath the surface of boob, armpit and mind! 
Also it depends on your job - how physical it is, what the commute is like versus are you able to work from home. I didn’t even seriously consider going back to work until the 8 week mark, when after telling my BCN in excitement  that I had finally managed to drive to Asda on my own but needed painkillers after doing gears (my surgery was on my left side) she told me I needed another few weeks. Deffo speak to you BCN and GP about going back to work when you feel the time is right. even now when I look back I think I should have taken an extra few weeks! 
Your body has been through a massive trauma and healing takes time. But also dealing with everything mentally is a massive strain on your energy too, especially as you’re now waiting on another test. I also found the SLNB quite hard to recover from and I’m still doing my arm exercises 2/3 times a day now as it still gets stiff. I am also finding that i still get very tired, particularly on the evenings. So don’t feel bad about still feeling tired! Keep sleeping when you want/need too, getting out for fresh air when you feel like it and generally try and do the things that make your mind and soul happy! 

I really hope that’s made you feel a bit better. You’re not alone in how you’re feeling. 
Take it easy and look after yourself! 

Becky xx 

  • Hi like you I also had surgery on 22nd April it was a rollercoaster ride from diagnosis to surgery I didn’t get a chance to digest it,  one moment I was seemingly fit and well the next was surgery and suddenly my life has changed . I feel uncomfortable fatigued and emotional. I too am having to take regular analgesia I’m trying to do the exercises to deal with cording I also had a seroma drained but it seems to have returned. Perhaps naively I thought I would be back to near normal and back at work like you but I’m not sure how I’d cope if I were at work in this state. I suppose it helps knowing others have similar experiences and think that it’s a case of one day at a time 

This thread is so helpful, thank you for posting Rannie and for your replies everyone. So many of my experiences are reflected here.

Rannie I’m dreading the possibility of periods again after 10 years and terrified that my results might suggest chemo. It’s such a surreal and confusing time. I’m sending love, I have no wisdom for you but I hear you. 

Lots of love to everyone


Hi I had a WLE & ISNB last week and today has been a v weepy day… I’m so glad I found these posts today as they completely describe how I feel and the rollercoaster the last 5 weeks have been… I hadn’t even found my lump and was referred to breast unit for other symptoms… so being told that afternoon I had cancer was a massive shock… I haven’t had time to take any of it in yet… the care off the nhs has been amazing so far… just gone through every appointment in a haze. I’m waiting to hear what’s the next step is, chemo or radiotherapy. The tiredness is coming in waves… one minute I feel full of energy, the next I can barely keep my eyes open & feel so hopeless… but knowing it’s all normal & I’m not along is wonderful… thank you x


I had mastectomy on my left boob and recon with implant and 12 lymph nodes removed on 13th april, so over 5 weeks ago and i have now started chemo. 

But im not fixed in regards to surgery im still having pain killers daily i tried to drive on week 3 and it put me back at least 2 weeks. I honestly think we expect too much from our bodies, busy workin then house work dinner gardening.  Honestly do what you can do and dont put pressure on yourself. You are you listen to your body. Very frustrating, i do know. :slightly_smiling_face: