Surgery December 2018

I thought I’d start a thread for those of us having surgery in December 2018.


I was diagnosed back on 2d May with bilateral breast cancer and have just finished neoadjuvant chemotherapy (right breast is HER2+, but no lymph nodes are involved, per sentinel lymph node biopsy done back in June before I started chemo).


I had my post-chemo MRI yesterday, 29 Nov, and my team will review the response to the HER2 antibodies on Monday, with the goal to confirm & consent to the surgery plan on Wed, 5 Dec, with surgery on Thu, 13 Dec – assuming my immune systerm has recovered adequately from chemo and my (new) surgeon can slot me into her schedule. (By chance, I was initially assigned to a surgeon at my hospital who doesn’t do oncoplastic procedures, and just got transferred to a colleague.)


The tentative plan is a nipple-sparing lumpectomy on the left for a 14mm mucinous invasive ductal cancer lesion (ER+ 8/8, PR+ 4/8, HER2-) and a nipple-sparing mastectomy on the right for IDC-no special type and extensive DCIS measured at about 63mm on MRI (IDC is ER+ 8/8, PR+ 6/8, HER2+), with immediate reconstruction using a prepectoral implant, meaning the implant will be place over rather than under the chest muscle.


I’m a small cup, and also a keen walker and freelance/self-employed, and I’m thinking this reconstruction option would afford less time off recovering and less time off work, plus it will also leave my tissue donor sites intact should I need to have future mastectomy of the left breast and/or if the reconstruction of the right breast doesn’t take. During the surgery, they’ll take some tissue from the right nipple, and if it tests positive for cancer, the nipple will be removed in a subsequent procedure; same story for the left breast if they don’t get clear margins. This is still all to be confirmed – until a couple days ago, I thought I may only be able to have delayed reconstruction, and it wasn’t clear if either nipple might be spared in the first round of surgery. The plan may very well change – and at this point, I’ve wrapped my head around that. (Counselling has helped.) 


Anyone else scheduled for surgery in the next weeks? Fabulous timing, isn’t it?


I suspect for many of you, surgery will be the first step in your treatment journey. I feel like an old hand at this point – since I got my referral to the breast clinic back in early April 2018, eight months ago, I’ve been reading up. More important, I’ve been given the gift of amazing help, guidance, and support from dozens of people on various Breast Cancer Care forums. We can and will do this, together. :heart:

Hi Reddi,

I got my date this week for my right breast mastectomy (going flat, so no reconstruction). It’s on the 31st December, so will be bringing in the (Scottish) new year a little differently in 2019!


I had a lumpectomy on the left breast 3 years ago (nipple couldn’t be spared) and on a routine follow-up mammogram in May of this year, an area of high grade DCIS was found. To cut a long story short, after lots and lots of needle guided biopsies and MRI procedures, I had 2 WLEs and SNB in mid Oct. The pathology report showed up more areas of high grade and an area of DCIS still remaining in the anterior margin of one. Hence the decision to have the mastectomy.


If I had my way I’d have had a double mastectomy, but this wasn’t considered necessary by the hospital team. I’ll keep chasing it up once I’ve had this latest op.


I think I’m organised with everything I need post op - thanks to the great advice I’ve had from the ladies on here :slight_smile:


You seem to have prepared yourself well for your procedure. Like you, I’m very thankful for the help and advice I’ve received from others who’ve actually experienced this.


Mags xxx

Hi Mags and Reddi,
I too am having a mastectomy on New Year’s Eve. At least I get to enjoy Christmas! Just finished 5 months of chemo. I can’t have immediate reconstruction due to radiotherapy after the op. I have a meeting with the breast nurse this week to discuss the op.
Mine is a grade 3 triple negative tumour that was 83mm to begin. Had final MRI last week.
I feel ok about it at the moment but that may change!
Becky x

Hi Mags and Beckett! We’re all three of us old hands, thus far. I am somewhat envious of your NYE surgery dates – neither my OH nor I are big fans of the night, and I bet the surgical ward will be quiet (though perhaps depends on who comes into A&E!).

Mags, as the veteran, is there anything off the beaten track that you’re packing in your hospital overnight bag?

Well reddi - until now I’ve only concentrated on the obvious things (V-shape pillow, front fastening pjs, bra, going home shirt etc. ect). I’m actually very new to planning for an overnight hospital stay as my previous surgeries were lumpectomies - so both day surgery cases.
I have had a thought though about the follow-up GP nurses care. The previous 2 times I was very happy that the hospital arranged for practice nurses to visit me so that they could check wounds and change dressings etc. This time, I’ll be discharged during a major holiday period (everything closes in Scotland at New Year) so I think I’ll phone my GP surgery soon and try to organise the visits myself just in case. I really appreciated being looked after so soon after going home last 2 times - I’m a real coward when it comes to looking at own op sites … I need to psych myself up for it ??

Hi I’m new here and am due to have WLE with targeting clip on the 12th December, I have been diiagnosed with pleomorphic LCIS which from what i have read up on is treated the same as DCIS. I am due to see consultant on 6th December and my nerves are shattered already. 

Silly question but does anyone know what stereo WLE mean does it mean two incisions ?

This forum is amazing, it’s uplifting reading other peoples experiences and everyone is so helpful. xx

Hi ladies, I thought I should come and join you. Here’s my journey so far:

I found a lump in July and was diagnosed in August with triple negative IDC measuring about 30mm.

Had a SNB in Sept (nodes tested negative) and started FEC chemo 2 weeks later. Had my last chemo on 22 Nov and mri last Friday. Just been for my results today.

Although my tumour could no longer be felt it still is about 24mm in length. My surgeon said I could choose between lumpectomy or nipple sparing mastectomy with implant.

My surgery is booked for 21 Dec and I go back on Monday to discuss and decide with my BCN.

Im thinking mx at the moment, as I worry about recurrence as I’m triple negative.

Now I really need to get organised with buying and wrapping presents, food shopping etc as I’ll be out of action from 21st!!

Thanks jane. I think I will have mx and recon as it just feels like I’m reducing the risk of recurrence. It will be a longer recovery but I work for myself from home so I can hopefully work when I feel ok and rest when I don’t.

Oh dear Essexgirly ??. I really hope you’re feeling a bit better today and that the car journey is bearable. I think some staff just seem to have a better bedside manner than others - although I’m sure they all mean well ?. I’m the opposite to you and have high blood pressure - I’d be really upset if it was implied that I could somehow control it myself. Hopefully they’ll give you some strong painkillers to take home? It doesn’t sound like the usual over the counter stuff will be enough. I’m really hoping I don’t have a drain. I’m not sure why they’re used but when I mentioned it to the BCN she said they weren’t used routinely in my hospital. I’ll find out soon. It was difficult enough showering / washing hair after last 2 lumpectomies for the few days following surgery. Must be a nightmare with drains. Fingers crossed the district nurse removes yours when she visits??
Big hugs - and I’ll be thinking about you today. If you get a chance let us know how things are :heart:xxx

Mags, Essex girlie and Reddi thank you all so much for thinking of me it has really touched me finding your messages.
Op went well, I had to go to the hospital for 7:15 and was met by the night nurses who wanted to introduce themselves as they would be looking after me that night. Anaesthetist then arrived swiftly followed by breast care nurse then my consultant and I’d barely had time to blink before I was on my way to theatre.
Consultant and anaesthetist came back to see me later that afternoon and both were really pleased how I’m doing
I’ve had the right side mastectomy, sentinel node removed and implant so have two drains in place.
Consultant came back Saturday morning and was pleased with how I was doing as was physio. Came home late Saturday afternoon, feel much better being at home. I’m so lucky I’ve no pain ( Essex girlie I’m heart broken for you the discomfort and tightness is enough without pain so dread to think how it is for you).
Can’t shower as I can’t use waterproof dressings but had a good wash down and had my hair washed so that made me feel better.
Stayed in pjjamas today as they are really comfy. Taking care of my own drains, both vacuum and really easy to change so all went well with that this morning.
Have been very nauseous but think it’s the anaesthetic, hope it’s not the antibiotics as I am allergic to most of those too. Not eating much at all, must be very naive as I hadn’t anticipated feeling unwell ! Nuts or what.
On paracetamol and ibuprofen and antibiotics but that’s it.
Seeing consultant Wednesday and breast care nurse Friday so going to have a couple of lazy days.
Before I went in I purchased a gift set from cancer research online specifically for mastectomies. Have a velvet heart shape cushion, a black cord drain bag, cushion to protect me from sestbelt and eye mask they’ve been a godsend.
Thinking of all of you who still have your surgery to come, stay strong ladies you are so much stronger than you think xx

Essex girlie I had the same problem with blood pressure, mines always low so ironically when they thought it was normal it was actually high for me but they didn’t seem to understand that.
Hope they get on top of your pain. It’s the drains I find uncomfortable they are just by my navel so catch every time I stand, sit or lie down. Have now sussed out how to lie on my good side in bed which helps. Also using an old fashioned wooden towel rail next to my bed for the drain bag. Loop the bag round the top a few times and I’m able to pull it really close so I can have more drain in the bed.
Only forgotten the drains twice but me and the drains survived ???. Struggled going to the loo too until I moved the bag to hang round my neck so the drains are in front and dangle between my knees ( too much info I know but god it made a difference ).
My consultant is amazing she hugged me, hugged my husband and my brother and really made us feel like she cares. Hope you’re getting the same support. Take care and take everything at your own pace only you know how much you cannot can’t do xx Melanie

@essexgirly2 Welcome home! I know you were worried about being discharged too soon, but you sound so much better now that you are home – I am happy for you.

OH will adjust to the bed – my OH and I had to do a similar swap midway through my chemo, and now I fear I won’t ever get “my” side of the bed back!

Essex Girlie fabulous to hear you’re home now relax and allow others to look after you for a while xx Melanie

I’m really glad all December ops have gone well so far ?.
Thank you as well for the the info 're websites reddi and Melanie.
I’ve just ordered pillows from Jen’s friends. l don’t have a paypal account but messaged them and was able to donate via bank transfer.
I’ve also ordered a few items from the cancer research shop. What a great find - can buy really useful things (and not just for hospital stays) ?.

Crochet addict That’s great news, I’m so pleased for you. To be honest I took far too much in with me, all I really needed was my slippers, my phone charger and power pack and a few toiletries as I was in overnight. The one thing I wish I’d had was a boiled sweet to suck ! My throat was quite sore from being intubated.
Been back to see my breast care nurse and surgeon today and doing so well I’m really chuffed. I have very sensitive skin and had unfortunately developed four hefty blisters under the strapping. They’ve removed the strapping and cleaned the blisters so feeling grand now. Very used to my drains now and wouldn’t be without my heart shaped pillow under my arm ( especially when I’m asleep ). With no strapping on now and my only dressing covering my drain site I feel really free and so much easier to move. Seeing surgeon again tomorrow but I’m managing everything fine.
Will be thinking of you on Thursday. Take care xx Melanie

Hi all,
Good to hear that you seem to feel better quite rapidly after surgery.
Had my preop on Monday so just need to get my Christmas shopping finished and wait for 31st for my op.
I feel a bit detached from it all at the moment.
Becks xx

Essex girly I’m so sorry you’re having a bad day hope the blow dry has helped lift your spirits. It’s my right arm that’s out of action and I’m right handed so really hadn’t realised I naturally hold my hairdryer in my left hand and brush in my right. My hair is no where near as well coiffed as normal but I had it cut so I could just blast it and fortunately it’s ok.
Can’t believe you have to wait until 21st, had my initial results today and all looks good. The tumours were scattered throughout the breast and total 3cm but it looks like they’ve got everything. Sentinel node was clear. Definitely no radiotherapy and 99% sure I won’t need chemotherapy either. Starting on Tamoxifen tomorrow. Consultant /surgeon is on holiday from tomorrow so she’d asked for the results to be rushed through. The MDT meeting is tomorrow so if they do decide I need chemo they’ll take me back off Tamoxifen but she doesn’t think it will be necessary.
Drains are still drawing a lot of fluid so think they will be in place for a while but I’m getting quite adept at changing them and recording the output ! All these new skills ???. Had a huge hug from the surgeon today, she’s incredible, and so pleased with how my implant looks even though it’s much smaller. Not seeing her again until 9 Jan so it’s just me and the breast care nurse for the next few weeks.
Chin up, we are strong and we’ve got this xx

Crochet addict will be thinking of you tomorrow and sending you huge virtual hugs and love.
At least once it’s done every day you’ll feel a bit better and be mending. Take care, hope you get some sleep tonight and let us know when you can how you’re doing xx Melanie

Mrs G,. I am seeing nurse on 21st just to take the dressing off. I don’t see surgeon until 28th to get my results. So merry Christmas to me … not! So pleased you have had good news and are doing so well. I am trying hard not to get upset but sobbing is my default mode right now… !

@essexgirly2 Waiting for results is hard, and harder still at this time of the year. I try to find little bits of joy in each day, and then suddenly the time has passed – but it’s not always easy. I have found talking to a therapist to be immensely helpful, too; and while talking to someone about this may not come naturally, it could be a great way to release your frustration about the wait for results. And it’s a bit like posting here – but in person. I hope today is a little bit easier.

@crochet addict Godspeed today!