I agree the fear is worse than the reality. You will come through this, I am 62 and had never had surgery before, my first op ended up being a breast reduction rather than a lumpectomy as they found more suspect areas that had not shown up on the mammogram and I was so scared not knowing what to expect.
I didn’t have reconstruction so can only comment on what I did for my recovery.
I followed the instructions I had been given, I did the exercises three times a day (more beneficial if you do them slowly) and if it said don’t do something it I didn’t. I’m now 5 weeks post op and my underarm still pulls if I don’t do the exercises, even though I have full use of my arm now.
I took Arnica 30C following my op, I find it helped with the bruising and the pain.
I went out for a walk every day, just a short walk initially but then built it up, it was nice to get out in the fresh air. I took it really easy for the first week and just relaxed. Watch a film or read a book, if you feel tired go for a nap, don’t overdo it. You will feel fatigued. I found it very frustrating that I hadn’t got the strength to do even simple things like taking the top off a bottle of milk.
Make a note of when you take your pain meds, so you take them at the right time and don’t overdose, your brain takes time to recover from the anaesthetic. Take them regularly, to avoid the pain and then feeling miserable while you wait for them to kick in.
I slept on my back for the first few weeks and used pillows for support before managing to sleep on my side using the edge of the duvet to make it more comfortable. The skin around my surgery site felt strange, a bit numb but sensitive at the same time, when you think all the nerves have been cut it’s not surprising.
I ate a well balanced diet and drank plenty of fluids.
Thats all I can think of at the moment, l hope it helps, let me know if you have any further questions.
Best wishes for your forthcoming operation.
I too am going to have a mastectomy with a reconstruction and reduction on my other breast in a few weeks. I would love advise on how best to recover from this operation.
Hi Fairy Dust, thank you for your reply. It does sound like a similar timescale. Today I made the decision to have mastectomy, it's not a choice I made lightly but the best for me (have other circumstances I had to consider) . Booked in for the week after next, so not much longer to wait. I do agree with you about the fear! I hope all goes well for you, and you don't have to wait too long. And yes all these ladies are great, just to know we are not on our own and others have come through it helps enormously.
Hi Annig. Wish none of us needed to be on here. Think I'm at the same point as you. Biopsy 12/12 diagnosis 21/22 and thought I was getting surgery dates and treatment plan last Friday. They now want a biopsy of another area before we do anything. At moment there is still a chance I have a choice between the two ops, but if the other area is involved it will have to be a mastectomy. I keep flip flopping between the two at the moment. It's an awfujl decision to have to make. Like you though, I wish they'd just get on with it, because I'm sure the fear is worse than the reality. Well I hope it is cos the fear is pretty bad. Finger's crossed we get sorted out quickly.
Aren't the ladies on here wonderful by the way?
I had 6 rounds of fec-t, one round every 3 weeks. It wasn't easy but now 4 years later I'm happy that they threw everything at it.
when my surgeon was talking about reconstruction I was thinking to myself "are you mad, I couldn't give a hoot so long as I survive this" but now I'm so glad I listened to him.
At the end of the day everyone is different, every cancer is different and we all have different priorities..... only you can decide what is best for you. Hopefully you have faith in your medical team and will be guided by them to make the right decision for you.
take care x
ps you can look up all the different chemo regimes & potential side effects on the Macmillan website, its very informative.
Thank you Annig, glad to help. I had my results just before Christmas and am fine, I only need to take Letrozole, no radiotherapy or chemo so consider myself very lucky.
Hi Moijan, thanks for replying. All the advice and info has been very much appreciated but want to decide and move forward, I have always been impatient !
Hope you are well, best wishes
Thank you krysbe for all the advice, you've had a lot to deal with and hope you are doing well. I'm not too keen on the reconstruction at the moment, think I have enough to think about. Sending good wishes to you.
Thank you krysbe for all the advice, you've had a lot to deal with and hope you are doing well. I'm not too keen on the reconstruction at the moment, think I have enough to think about. Sending good wishes
Thank you nikki49, may I ask how much/how long was the chemo afterwards? Hopefully I won't need anything after surgery but want to have some idea of maybes.
Hi Annig ..lots of very good tips and advice on this thread...the only thing I can add is please feel free to go back as often as you need to ask questions...go with a long list, no matter how silly they feel.....
what is is important here, is that you make your very best decision in the light of evidence you have at the time....I had chemo before my op so I had about 6 months to think about things such as wether I wanted a recon, which kind etc and I did investigate intensively.....I later was told I had to have the mastectomy, which at least did not put me in your position..... there is always time to decide, to change your mind if need be.
i was thinking that in your shoes..being me, I'd want to know exactly why I was being given the choice? Because, if they feel you are not at high risk of recurrence, then why offer you anything but a lumpectomy?
feel free to grill them..they will want you to make an informed choice...You could take a trusted scribe along with you and say you'd still like to sleep on it after the appt. then chat it over with your scribe....this might help.
Hi Jan and Annig,
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in August and was only offered a lumpectomy at the time with surgery within a week. Due to unclear margins I had another lumpectomy in October and a mastectomy 4 weeks ago. I opted not to have reconstruction as I didn’t feel it was right for me and asked my breast surgeon for the best possible cosmetic results with no extra skin. It’s important to go with what you feel is right for you.
The breast surgeons at my local hospital request that you attend the day surgery ward at 7:30 regardless of what time your operation is scheduled. I didn’t go down to theatre for the first op until after 14:30 and felt awful as was told not to eat after midnight or have anything to drink after 6:00am. I was a bit wiser for the following ops and had some cereal at 22:00 and made sure I got 2 mugs of black tea before the 6:00am deadline.
It is important to do the exercises you have been given, although would suggest that you try them before you have your surgery as you will not be trying to do something you could not achieve before your op.
I found it uncomfortable to wear a bra for the first fortnight following my mastectomy but once I had the dressings removed needed something to support the seroma that had developed. I ended up getting a Coobie bra from the US and crochet myself a boob until I was able to wear the softie I had been given from the hospital.
Good luck to you both for your forthcoming operations.
I can only give my opinion from my experience..... I wasn't really given the choice, my surgeon recommended a skin sparing mastectomy as due to the location & size of the tumour my boob would be quite deformed after a lumpectomy, he said he could get a better result (looks wise) doing a mastectomy & reconstruction.
Thank goodness I didn't push for lumpectomy because when I went back for my two week post surgery check up he told me the pathology results - shockingly they found 10cm (yes that is centimetres) of dcis which hadn't been spotted on the mammo! He said they call it the silent killer!
Also because I'd had a mastectomy I didn't need radiotherapy, although I still required chemo as I was triple negative.
best of luck x
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to reply, yesterday , before joining this forum, i was lost, now I think I am ready to take it on! Need to get as much info as possible, still got time to decide which surgery but I'm more inclined to go for mastectomy for various reasons, . Will keep checking in, but thank you all.
Hi Annig I'm 52 and had the same BC as you and was offered a lumpectomy or mastectomy (with reconstruct if I want this). I decided to have a mastectomy due to the size (largeish) and the area of the tumour and my surgery was 2 wks ago day case. I also had sentinel node biospsy. Ive decided to delay reconstruct because I want to get used to my new body. It wasn't an easy decision to make and pre surgery I spoke to friends who went through similar experiences, my GP and my hubby as well as weighing up the pros & cons and I made sure that I felt comfortable with my decision. My post op appointment confirmed I am tumour free and my nodes are clear. I am now waiting for the onco dx test to determine whether I may/may not benefit from chemo. I will also need to take meds for 5-10 yrs. I understand the weird feeling and being scared. I didn't feel as if I had BC. No pain, just exhaustion which I put down to the emotional and physiological side of the diagnosis. Only you will know what's best for you and your situation. Go with your gut feeling. Speak to family and friends if you are able too. My GP helped me to make my decision and I don't regret it. There is so much support on these forums which has really helped me to stay positive and focused and will do the same for you. I wish you all the best with your decision and surgery.
Thanks Jill. Thank goodness for the NHS screening programme! I have BC in my family mother and sister, both ok so when I got called back I knew...which is probably why I have been so calm about it. I am also now being referred to Oxford Genetics team as well which is good. Great to know there is so much support in these forums! One thing I did want to ask if anyone knows the answer, I have to have to local wire excision in one hospital and then have to go to another hospital for th surgery, what do I wear...button fronted top ??
Same age as me exactly when I was diagnosed in March 2016. I wasn't offered the option, lumpectomy was the 'option' given followed by radiotherapy. I was told at the time that this was as successful as lumpectomy in terms of prognosis for me. I guess, if they are offering the option to you, then it is very much down to your personal preference and what you psychologically feel 'happier' with. Each option has pros and cons (hey, Im really helpful aren't I, as I wasn't offered the other option), like recovery time for example. Some women really want the breast gone, for some that is a massive fear and they'd rather keep it. So, I guess for you its about searching in your mind about your gut feelings, and asking the professionals to answer any questions you might have. Whilst people here can give their own views, and decision, they may not have the same feelings and views as you...which are paramount here in your surgery choice. Weigh up everything, but mostly go with your own strength of feeling.
I remember that 'weird' feeling, bc was something others had and putting myself in that boat was just surreal. The first time I ever used the word oncologist it felt as if the world had dropped on me. It 'll get easier, stay strong and stick around x
And welcome to the forum.
Like Optimmisy, I chose lumpectomy because I didn't want to lose my breast. I wanted to appear the same at the end of treatment. The down side is that there is always the fear of it returning. Only you can decide what's best for you.
Best wishes and please come and chat or ask questions whenever you want.
Welcome to the forum, though no doubt you'd never have wished to be here.
What you describe sounds familiar to me - I was diagnosed with the same just over a year ago and for a while it felt really surreal, as though i was watching someone else from the outside, and watching people going about their daily lives but knowing mine had changed. It does take a while for the diagnosis to sink in and get your head around it all, not least of which is the new "language" we have to learn - WLE, SNB, Grade and Stage etc.etc etc. A steep learning curve!
I too was offered the choice between a lumpectomy (WLE) or mastectomy, and for me it was no contest, as for people who are lucky enough to be able to be given the choice the outcome is reckoned to be the same whether you have the mastectomy or lumpectomy in terms of prognosis and the future, so I opted for the lumpectomy. I had radiotherapy and am now on a hormone tablet for 5 years. I am really pleased with my choice but you have to decide what is important to you. When i asked my consultant some months later why, if the outcomes where the same, he had even mentioned a mastectomy as a choice, he said that some ladies like the peace of mind of having everything taken away. For me, I like still having a boob, even one with a faint scar across it, and the surgery, radiotherapy and hormone tablet give me peace of mind! If you haven't already done so you might want to discuss pros and cons further with your consultant so you are comfortable with whatever you choose.
You will find this site a mine of information and support. Best to stick only with the threads that relate to your own stage of diagnosis as your treatment progresses, and don't be tempted to google, as a lot of info out there is out of date and inaccurate - this site and Macmillan are the recommended sites.
Ask anything you need to on here and someone will be sure to be along with a response. xxx
I was recently diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer, had mammogram, ultrasound then biopsy which confirmed, I'm 48ish, preparing myself for surgery but everything feels weird, like it's not me, I have no pain to speak of just some discomfort and apart from always being tired I feel ok. But I'm scared! It's lumpectomy or mastectomy, I need to decide. Any advice is welcomed.