rollercoaster of emotions

To cut a long story short had a diagnosis of breast cancer 2004 and after good results from chemo( yuck) lumpectomy and radiotherapy I was four years clear and there was talk of scaling down appts.In May after routine mammo., speckles were found and I had a core biopsy . On Monday I went back for the results and it was a classic good news bad news scenario.The good news being the cancer wasn’t back but and it is a BIG but I have DCIS.Every one seems pleased I wont be having chemo or radiotherapy but I want to scream at them that I am having a mastectomy.I am losing my breast for goodness sake.My consultant is really good and straight talking and he assures me that it is not life threatening and after surgery I will be 100% cured but emotionally I am a mess I found myself sobbing into a pan of mashed potatoes because I had looked down and seen my cleavage!! I have decided not to have a recon at the same time but leaving the options open for one in the future.I just want to pull the duvet over my head but of course I cant as life goes on and I have three teenage children to consider.Talking of which does anyone know of any good publications re mastectomy that I could give them to read? I have tried to explain but what 19 year old boy wants to talk to his mum about breasts!! My 17 year old daughter has been great and I have managed to even have a joke with her about it.I dont know anything about post surgery either but I am hoping my breast care nurse will fill me in nearer the time.I am crying as I write this no one is in and it gives me a chance to have a quiet think.

Hi Missislady,

I’ve just read your post and am sorry you are feeling so down. What mixed emotions you must be experiencing! I have had a mastectomy last June so I have an idea of how you are feeling right now. I was devastated when I found out that a mastectomy was my only option but I can honestly say that it was much less traumatic both emotionally and physically than I ever imagined. I could not have reconstruction at the time but had LD reconstruction with implant in April. I am still being pumped up but so far so good! Perhaps you will decide against reconstruction at all but the results are very realistic if you ever decide to go for it.

I’m afraid that’s all the advice I can give apart from to say that posting on here is probably the best thing you can do because you will be speaking to people who have experienced, or are still experiencing, the same emotions that you are feeling.

Hope you feel better soon and best of luck with the operation. When is it?

Sinead x

Hi there,
It is hard for people to understand how deep it goes to lose a breast. It’s not as if you use it like an arm or a leg, people feel. But one does use it (in my case I was breastfeeding right up to my mastectomy 6 months ago) and what about sex?! Try not to worry too much missislady. I think chemo is a LOT worse from what I’ve learnt from people who have been through both. Having said that, you’ve already had to go through that so it really is a bit much to have to do a mastectomy as well. I am 42 and I think most ‘younger’ women seem to have reconstruction but as I have young kids, I felt I didn’t want to put them through more of me being away from them in hospital (though some procedures are more straight forward than others). I can’t say I like having one breast but I can live with it. It is something you just have to get used to. With clothes on no one would be able to tell at all that I had one breast (you can get into underwired bras pretty quickly which helps with the prosthesis/more natural look.) But I do admit at staring at womens’ cleavages on TV…I do grieve for mine!

The surgery is not bad at all (I was 5 days in hospital as they don’t like you to go home with drains in you when you have toddlers that might pull them out! But you can go home with them if you want. Physical recovery is very quick I’d say. I was off all pain relief by day 4 - so as you can see the pain is surprisingly minimal.

Good luck and hugs to you!

Linda x

Hi,

I had my Mastectomy in June of last year after having high grade DCIS. I too didn’t want an immediate reconstruction I just wanted to be free of the offending breast.

I recall the day my BC nurse told me the news saying; I was to lose my breast…it was like an ‘out-of-body’ experience, no-way was she talking to me…I couldn’t understand it, there wasn’t a lump, so why on earth was I losing my breast…

My daughter - 15 at the time - didn’t want to know, she buried her head in the sand…slowly, she came round, near to the time of the operation, she was my rock.

She - my daughter, now 16 - tells me not to bother about the way I look, she says let people accept you for what has happened, you are still you…wise words, but I don’t like the way I look and plan to go for a recon next year.

One year on from the Mastectomy, I feel absolutely fine, I’m on Tamoxifen and doing great (apart from the weight gain) back to work, which I thought I would find difficult because of the men I work with, but everyone has and is fantastic, especially the men.
I find I can laugh and joke about my false boob along with anyone…but…it does sometimes get me down, especially in these summer months, when you see nothing but cleavage where ever you look…

It was like when I was desperate to have a baby…which took me seven years…everywhere I turned, there was a pregnant lady…now, there are boobs everywhere…groan…!!!

Linda

i had a mastectomy and LD recon eighteen months ago - started with lumpectomy for small cancer but it was the DCIS that was the problem, couldn’t get clear margins. so i know what you mean about the roller-coaster…it was hellish and the grief and distress of knowing i had to lose the breast was almost unbearable. i remember sitting sobbing on the trolley waiting to go into theatre…but the relief when i woke up and it was over was tremendous and i have to say the result is fantastic. the muscle boob looks totally convincing - apart from the scars! and now i think i was lucky not to have the chemo and rads because i saw how ill it made the other ladies. i think it’s very hard to accept losing a breast for something you can’t see and that isn’t making you feel ill…what an ordeal it was, but i’m now back at work and feeling much better. hang in there…

Hi

Like catkin19 I had a mastectomy and LD recon. nine months ago, when I was told that I would have to have a mastectomy I felt it wasn’t me they were talking about. When I was given a choice of immediate reconstruction I decided there and then that is what I wanted. I felt I couldn’t deal with looking at my self without a breast. Although I knew my operation would be a lot longer, and recovery would be a little longer, I am 67, and have never had an operation, but my mind was made up. Everything went well, in hospital 8 days, after care was excellent, and for a few weeks I felt tired, but went with it, and just slept when I wanted. I feel fine now, just a little discomfort from my back, but each day is getting better, my figure looks just the same, went in a 38DD now I am 38b, so have only come down a couple of cup sizes. I am astonished that my breast looks the same, although I do have a scar, and I am waiting to have a nipple put on. I have shed my tears, but now everything has settled down I feel great. As I have said once before on this forum, the forum has helped me such alot over these last few months, of which I am GRATEFUL.

Love to you all

Hilary x