I appreciate this may be too late for many of you and perhaps not the most popular option but I had a therapeutic mammoplasty rather than a mastectomy. My surgeon was very keen to try this first and I am so pleased he did. I had large breasts (40G) and my tumour area was over 12cm so he needed to remove around 2lbs of tissue. I lost my nipple due to the tumour location but the resulting breast is a good shape and feels fine - I have more issues with the numbness from the lymph node removal. The only downside I think was it meant I needed radiotherapy but that wasn't too bad. I had private health care so my surgeon also agreed to do the reduction I needed on the other side very quickly - I had this 6 weeks ago and now have D cup size - much more manageable. He managed to save my nipple as well which means I only need one tattoo. I think with the NHS I would have had to wait along time. The only draw back to the quick reduction is that radiotherapy can cause shrinkage so he guessed at the likely size - there is a small difference at the moment but this is completely unseen when wearing a bra.
I read loads of posts where everyone seems to have a mastectomy and I appreciate there is a thing about gettting the cancer gone completely but having looked at reconstruction options I am pleased I took the chance with the mammoplasty. I am just past my 1st year of diagnosis and had 8 chemo sessions, 2 operations and 25 rad sessions in 11 months. I am back at work full time and feel very well. Have managed to lose around 2 stones with regular exercise and healthy eating which is great.
The breast clinic I went to was very keen for me to see the surgeon I have as he is very young and very pro breast conservation - I had to put a lot of trust in him but it was worth it!
Yep, would agree with that - first thing I do when I get home from work is whip the prosthesis out! With a big Ahh - just like putting on some comfy slippers. Mine weighs 2lb too, so its a relief to get it off...
What a good idea for old tee-shirts and sundresses - I've two or three that I really thought I wouldn't be able to wear, so might just have a go at this - thanks.
Take care everyone, and good luck with all treatments ongoing or still to come.
I was a 42DD so my prosthesis weighs just over 2lb, and let me tell you by the end of the day I've had enough! I've never succumbed to whipping it out just before I get weighed though lol. For anyone struggling to afford a post sugery bra or if anyone's got a favourite bra pre-diagnosis, you can easily sew your own pocket in. There's a video on Youtube (I googled it) and it's really simple - you basically get an old t-shirt, stitch it flat against the cup of the bra (obviously leaving a gap to put the prosthesis in) and then trimming the excess off afterwards - I think I'm going to try and adapt this to some of the strappy sundresses I've got - just in the vain hope that we get some decent weather this year!!!!!
Hi - think going home the day after mx is "normal" now depending on what time your op is - and I think that if your op is first thing in the morning and all ok, then some hospitals believe it can be done as a day case!!! I had mx end July last year - op midday on the Monday, and was home on the Wednesday lunchtime. Before BC diagnosis I was a 34E and following my mx, which had originally been suggested with a delayed recon, my surgeon said that I didn't need chemo or rads, so could have recon if I wanted but also offered reduction on my right breast. I didn't have to make a decision there and then, so have just been wearing the prosthestis I was fitted with three weeks after my op. (If you're a bigger size, they are pretty heavy). (before that just wore the cumfy the hospital gave me) Going onto tamoxifen gave me an increase in weight and my cup size went up to an F/G. Before my mx I had never worn a non wired bra so before the op I bought some non-wired full cup support bras and sports bras from M & S (didn't know Asda did them at that point) I bought my size before the mx as the prosthesis is fitted to match your remaining boob. I bought one post surgery bra from M & S which has pockets on both sides, Your prosthesis comes with a cover which you can put it in if you're wearing a non pocketed bra so that you have cotton next to your skin. Nicola Jane do a selection of post surgery bras but they can be pricey - think the cheapest is about £20, but they also sell pockets which you can sew onto your existing bras, and also bra extender pieces. I saw the surgeon again in November to have a discussion about the reduction, and decided to go for it - had op on Monday this week, home on Tuesday morning. Bit sorer than I was with mx, and difficult to say how much smaller I am at the moment as still bruised and swollen, but hoping for a C cup! The breast care team say that once I'm unswollen they will fit me with a new matching prosthesis.
Take care and good luck with all treatments.
update is I'm closer to my 3 stone by 2 and a half pounds! I went for a check up on Monday and mentioned it to my oncologist who said it's probably down to the chemo still lingering - even though I finished in November 2012! I've decided to aim for a stone at a time or I'll just never manage it - bloody weight, as if we haven't got enough to deal with!
Hello, SJB. I have to say that I found Tax far more of an ordeal than FEC- but my BCC said it really is brilliant stuff at zapping all the nasties, so I just held the faith, gritted my teeth until I got through it. I know exactly what you mean about being a slave to the medecine regime- I used a notepad in which I jotted down the meds for each day, the times I had to take them, and ticked them off throughout the day.
I met friends for lunch etc on week three of each cycle of FEC, but was in such a bad state of exhaustion, terrible joint pains etc on Tax, that I mainly stayed in, and friends visited me, on the understanding they would have to make the coffee, as I was so wiped out, I wasn't even up to doing that!! I saw it as an ordeal- like a marathon, that I just had to endure, but always bearing in mind that it was getting me better, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Others have mentioned that the radiotherapy was a breeze, in comparison to chemo, and I have to fully agree. I cannot comment on mastectomies, as mine was primary DCIS, so I had a lumpectomy- but needed the chemo as it had spread to my lymph nodes.
I am now two years post active treatment, and I have to admit it took me a good long time to start feeling more 'normal' again, and it is only in the past few months that I have actually 'bedded in', and accepted my 'new normal', with chronic joint pains from the Letrozole, and fatigue, which still has not really left me. I am not saying this in a moaning fashion, because I am just so grateful to still be here, and hopefully look forward to seeing any grandchildren which may come along- the Consultant told me it would have spread within 6 to 12 months, had the tiny half a centimetre lump, not been picked up by the NHS mammogram screening programme.
I think my best advice to you would be to take each day as it comes for the moment, with all the downsides that chemo brings, but with the knowledge that you will get through it, and that at some stage it will become a distant memory- although of course, it will always be part of you, but becomes less sharp, the further away from active treatment you get. Take care.
SJB-I had never dieted in my life. Have always thought they were faddy. Stuck to healthy eating but I gradually piled on the pounds. My sister lost tons of weigh on the slimming world program. I was unconvinced it would work for me. So, sceptically I gave it a go-and lost almost 2 stone. It was very easy to stick to-and I didn't join a group just got the low down on how to do it from my sister. We have both had breast cancer-with all the weigh accumulating treatments!
Thanks for your input, Witchypoo, very helpful.
Bit concerned about the fact that you need to lose 3 stone before they'll do your reconstruction...is this a normal requirement? I know I'm pretty overweight. I piled lots of weight on when I was pregnant with my boys (they are now 17 and 14), and have never managed to lose it. If they impose something like that on me, it'll never happen. 😞
I can't believe they sent you home the day after your mastectomy - again, is that normal? I thought I'd be in for 3 or 4 days?
It would never have occured to me to look for post-op bras on Asda's website - thanks for that tip! That's my sort of price!
Hi there - I had 8 sessions of chemo before my surgery, 4 of which were Tax and they did hit me far harder than the fec. But, the first one was the worst and after that I was more prepared and didn't wait for pains to start - I'd start taking the painkillers from day 3 until about day 10! I also ended up in hospital on iv antibiotics after the first session so make sure you keep on taking your temp. I had my last chemo on 19 November 2012 and had my mastectomy on 14 December by which time the vast majority of the side effects seemed to have subsided - the op was no problem at all, I had it done at 9am on the Friday and was back home by 11am on the Saturday! The radiotherapy was absolutely fine (tiring and I got a little 'tanned', but absolutely nothing like chemo) - I used to have the patient transfer so I didn't have to worry about driving myself there. As far as reconstruction goes, I'm still waiting but have been told I need to lose 3 stone - lovely! I'm 42DD so would find it difficult to go bra-less at work (though I do at the weekend!) - I've just got a couple of post-surgery bras from George at Asda, they're only available online and they were £8 each.
Tax is really tough but try to bear with it because it's usually very effective - I had cancer in about 11 of my lymph nodes but after they were taken out the pathology showed only scar tissue where the chemo had killed it! Good luck and hang on in there xxxx
Thanks for that. Good to know I don't need to fear the radiotherapy too much.
Tamoxifen....da da daaaa - oh hell, I'd forgotten about that. Yes, I have that (dis)pleasure to come as well! Again, I'll look into that closer to the time! lol Got enough to think about at the mo!
I had 3 tax chemos. Not nice. Horrible mouth. Pains all over but I can promise it did pass. I felt better around the 10 day mark. The first tax was def. the worst for me. Once I knew what to expect I could cope. I felt much better after the mid way point of last chemo. Radiotherapy was fine for me. No problems with skin. I worked all through radiotherapy with no major tiredness.
Immediately after last radiotherapy I went to Rome to celebrate my 50th birthday. Spent all day walking. Ate and drank well in the evenings and felt wonderful.
I have smallish breast so that maybe helped with the radiotherapy.
For me-getting plenty of sleep and fresh air every day helped....and sipping on mugs of warm soup when my mouth was horrible.
Then I started on Tamoxifen! (Cue scary music).
Good luck, I promise it does get better.
Thank you for replying. Those sports bras look interesting.
I can't imagine going braless on a daily basis as I have always needed the support. It is difficult to imagine what my body will be like post-op. It is playing on my mind now though.
The forum seems to have been very quiet lately. I hope some others come along to give me their insight into the questions I have raised.
I'm sorry to hear you are having such a rotten time of it. I can't answer you questions about TAX, as I only had one. I was so ill my oncologist put me back on FEC. I do know that many of the February Valentines who had TAX are still having aches, pains and peripheral neuropathy 9 months after their treatment started.
As a larger lady (44D) who only had one breast removed (no recon) I was offered a reduction on the other side, but didn't take up the offer. But I was told they could reduce the remaining breast by about 3 cup sizes if I'd wanted. But this might differ from hospital to hospital.
As far as camisoles are concerned, I wear normal ones for the size I was. These from Amazon look ok:
I used to pin my softee to the inside on mastectomy side to add a bit of shape.
I also have a bra similar to this sports bra:
and took out the padding and managed to stuff my softee into it's place.
But normally I just go braless and wear loose fitting tops with perhaps a scarf tied loosely to hide my 'missing' bit. I'm so used to it now, as I never wore a bra before BC anyway.
I know you didn't ask about radiotherapy, but I refused that anyway. I have a lung condition so didn't want to take any risks making that worse.
All the best
You might find it helpful to talk over some of these things with one of our helpliners. They'll be able to offer practical information and emotional support. The opening times are 9-5 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. The number is 0808 800 6000
Very best wishes
Could some of you possibly answer some questions for me, please?
I'm on day 10 of my first cycle of Taxotere after three complete cycles of FEC, and starting to wilt. Need some reassurance that things will get better at some point.
Firstly, is there anything I can do at the moment to make myself feel better? I seem to be a slave to my meds and can't sleep each night for the pain. My social life has bombed because I never feel up to leaving the house, and frankly, I'd just like some relief. Now, I don't have a bath, just a shower, so I can't take one of those lovely long soaks lots of people suggest...so what else can I do? It can't cost any money because I don't have any. Very low income, no spare cash, bills mounting up as they can't be paid.
Secondly, how long after the final dose of taxotere is it before you feel "normal" again? I'm having neo-adjuvant chemo, and have been told that my mastectomy and lymph node clearance op will be about 4 weeks after my chemo finishes, which doesn't seem like any time at all.
How long after chemo finishes is it before I can have some dental treatment? So far, I've lost about 4 fillings, and the pain in my mouth is often unbearable, but my dentist has said she can't do anything till I'm told she's allowed to. It is making things even harder for me, but it seems like no sooner have i finished chemo than I'll be in hospital, then recovering from that, and I'm desperate to get my teeth sorted out!
Can I please ask the larger ladies here (I'm a 44DD) about mastectomies. If you had one breast removed, were you reassured that they would reduce the other one when they did the reconstruction so they match afterwards? If you've had it all done, did they match? I'm worried that I'm going to end up looking very lopsided. I'm 48 so my bikini days are long gone, but I don't want to look like a freak afterwards. I can't get my head round how it'll all turn out.
Mastectomy bras/camisoles...how do you work out what to buy? I'm on the tightest budget imaginable. I feel guilty every time I spend money on myself instead of food or bills. But do you buy them to fit the size you are pre-op? I'll have to buy online as I can't get to any shops, and stuff is cheaper online anyway. I buy mainly through Amazon or eBay. So any insight into getting these would be appreciated. My op is in May.
I won't ask about radiotherapy. I can't think that far forward yet. It'll be in the autumn, from what I've been told so far, at a hospital that is about one and a half hour's drive away, so I'm really looking forward to that! (not)