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I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

22 REPLIES 22
Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Good morning @

Middle C
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi

This forum is brilliant, it’s so good and v reassuring to hear from others feeling exactly the same as I am and seeing the support everyone is giving each other. 

My surgery was just under 2 weeks ago. I felt great after surgery then exhaustion & the wobbles hit me 5 days later... I’d thought I’d be able to return to work working from home part time after a couple of weeks but realised that’s unrealistic! I can’t concentrate on things & get tired doing the simplist things!  Learning to slow down & take it a day at a time is hard. 

My consultant called me yesterday with my initial pathology reports... no cancer in lymph nodes, good margins round the tumour... but they want to do an Oncotype test as I ticked all the boxes... this will determine if I need chemo or not! So got another 2-3 weeks wait till I get to meet oncologist when I’ll find out what treatment they recommend!!! The waiting is the most draining thing on this rollercoaster! 

Hope everyone is feeling a little bit better every day!

x

Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Good Morning @Treas 

My pathology results indicate that the margins are clear and lymph nodes all ok I am awaiting oncology appt to discuss radiotherapy and hormone treatment I am stronger and generally feeling better and brighter than I did I'm setting myself small tasks each day but am learning that it's ok to take a break and sit for a while reading if I feel like it 👌 The nagging feeling that I must get on remains in the back of my mind however I'm beginning to accept that some things CAN just wait until I'm ready or up to doing it 😉 

I'm glad to hear that you have been signed off for a sensible period of time now that's one less worry for you and as you rightly say you can now pace yourself and allow some proper time for the healing process not just physical but  emotional and psychological also I hope your results are as favourable as they can be 🤞 Do stay in touch lets us know how you go 

All the best 

X

Treas
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Piqueen 

Thay does sound like good advice. I am 2 weeks today and feeling much better. My gp has signed me off for a further 4 weeks which helps me pace myself. 

Pathology comes back on Thursday and am hoping won't need radiotherapy. Have you gad your pathology back yet? 

Really hope that each day become a little brighter for you and that strength swiftly follows 🙏

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

That's really good advice @Piqueen, take it slow, its unfamiliar territory. Also true, the physical, emotional and psychological effects are all huge. We must be gentle on ourselves but that can be hard.

I'm doing ok, for me the pain isn't too bad but over a week later the fatigue is still a big issue, I hadn't expected or understood that. It's has been good to read from others on here that the fatigue is common. I was a busy person too so slowing down to rest and recover does not come naturally! 

X

 

 

 

 

Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi @Daised

Thank you for asking, each day is a step in the right direction 👌 Whilst I still get some discomfort I am learning to guage and pace myself and the exercises are helping.

I am used to being constantly on the go and was becoming frustrated and ratty which was obviously exacerbated by pain and lack of sleep Now with regular paracetamol and ibuprofen the pain and sleep are much improved. 

Also someone helped me understand that this journey will follow an unfamiliar road and I need to take my foot of the peddle a little and negotiate my way more gently through the bumps in the road. So I am trying to take one day at a time setting myself  tasks to achieve but accepting it if I need to stop or take a rest, so far this seems to help. 🤞 Until you go through it I think it is difficult to comprehend just how much impact BC has on  physical emotional and psychological well being it is a steep learning curve. I find the support and all the comments really on here do help though 

How are you feeling ?

Sending you lots of positive healing vibes 

X

 

Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Treas 

My goodness My diagnosis was unexpected too and I naively thought I 'should' be feeling better and thinking about work within 3 or 4 weeks or so but as my healthcare team explained it can take 6-8 weeks to recover from the surgery let alone the follow up treatment. After a rollercoaster ride from diagnosis to surgery I was struggling to get my head around it all and felt frustrated and ratty ( all perfectly normal feelings apparently) But have now been encouraged to lower my expectations stop pressurising myself and learn to take one day at a time. Some days are better than others I still get tired and sore especially when I over do things I now take regular analgesia (ok paracetomol and ibuprofen which helps  reduce break through pain and I'm learning to be kind to myself 

It's still early days you will have 'wobbly' days you will hurt and a lack of proper sleep will takes its toll physically emotionally and psychologically 

Don't rush back to work when you are clearly are not ready you will struggle and you will be a burden to other work colleagues

In short, time is a great  healer so take some 👌☺️

Best wishes for a good recovery 

X

 

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

How are you doing @Piqueen?

Exactly same here, still get really tired and have horrendous emotional days where I just cry.

Yes, we will get through this chick we have to. Much love, let me know how you're doing

 

X

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

 
Treas
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Thank you so much. Really helpful and reassuring. Did go for a walk for first time today and feels an achievement.  The breast care nurse said she thought I should be off for at least 3 weeks but as a nurse my job is very physical so was concerned that felt too soon. My boss thought more like 4-6 weeks. 

Thanks for all your support. 

Justplainpat
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hello @Treas 

I’m actually stunned that anyone should be expected to return to work only ten days after a mastectomy, let alone when recovery from surgery is being hampered by infection. I had a mastectomy sixteen months ago, followed by full lymph node clearance two months later. My treatment and recovery was as routine and uncomplicated as these things can ever be but, despite my fairly unflappable stoicism, there is no way I would have felt ready to return to work so early. So be gentle with yourself and let yourself off the hook. Of course you’re not ready! Make sure you do those exercises religiously and if at all possible get out there for a walk every single day, however short. Getting fresh air and keeping active really does help the healing process, both mentally and physically.

I’m not fond of taking painkillers routinely (are any of us?) but I was advised that paracetamol is best taken regularly so that the pain is not allowed to escalate, when it is harder to bring it under control. I reserved the limited supply of Co-codamol, given on discharge from hospital, as my bedtime treat. 

Good luck with your results next Thursday, and with your ongoing treatment. It is still early days for you but things will improve.

Pat x

Evie-S
Community Champion

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

@Treas - welcome to this lovely forum, I hope you will find lots of support here. It really is a shock to get a BC diagnosis, I know I felt like a bus had just come out of nowhere and hit me. 

I had a right mastectomy about 4 years ago, also with node removal, and I would say that 2 weeks is still early days in your recovery. Of course some people may recover much faster, and others slower, but each person and surgery/diagnosis is different. So I’d say listen to your body, and if you have any specific medical questions, including about pain control, do give your BC nurse a call, or the lovely nurses on here (number at the top of the page). I remember stopping pain relief suddenly, and the pain was horrible - apparently I should have been told to come off it gradually. Try very short walks, and soon you will build up, but don’t push it or beat yourself up that you can’t do it. I wasn’t even allowed to drive for about 3-4 weeks so I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go back to work in that time.

You also mention the mental side of a BC diagnosis - and that can be tougher than the physical side. If you would like to chat more about this, then this is a very safe and non judgmental site where you can offload and share any worries. Everyone on here will understand without you having to explain.

In the meantime I want to wish you all the best for your recovery, and please come back and ask any questions and let us know how you get on. Hugs, Evie xx

Lunatic21
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Treas, 

I’m 3 weeks post surgery for WLE and SLNB and am still having pain. I don’t get my results for another 11 days and am not going back to work ( as a teacher)  until as l at least then. I’m really struggling with how this is impacting me. 

I hope you get good results xx

Treas
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi

I am new to this, had rt mastectomy 10 days ago for high grade dcis with sentinel node biopsy. I heard that after 2 weeks I should be heading back to work but am really struggling with pain.  Codeine makes me sick. Generally well but mist comfortable in bed bed and have only managed 1 v short walk. 

Can anyone tell me if this is normal ? I have also got an infection in my wound so wondering if will need more time off work? 

Results back next Thursday but struggling to get my head round this unexpected diagnosis. 

Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Good morning Daised 

Thank you for replying 

I have good and bad days am trying to work through the exercises as I have cording and I'm trying to put on brave front but have had a couple of wobbly days where I just feel emotional. I like you feel tired I go for a walk and come back shattered I try to read and find I start to doze 🙄

It is certainly a journey like no other but Daised we will get there it will get better! 👌

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi

I'm trying to get my head around things too! None of it seems real. 

I hope you're recovering well after surgery Piqueen. How are you feeling? I'm so tired!

Xx

Piqueen
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi 

I'm new to this forum

 I had surgery and am now trying to get my head around all this 

Reading some of the comments from Daised and replies by Seabreze has been really helpful

 thank you for sharing 👌 

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

Wow 5 weeks for results, that's way too long. how stressful. I've been told up to 3 weeks for results. I had my diagnosis 2 weeks ago and tomorrow is surgery, I feel very fortunate now, I had no idea others had to wait so long.

I've planned to take the 2 weeks off,  which seems sensible. Fortunately I can work flexibly from home so hopefully the radiotherapy won't take up too much sick time, but I'm just going to have to see I guess.

I wish you speedy healing and I hope you get good results and get away with the radiotherapy, I'm hoping for the same. 

XX

Lunatic21
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Daised, 

I am so glad you are being treated so quickly I was diagnosed at the end of Jan with HER -Oestrogen + 25mm IDC and after being put on tamoxifen I had my surgery 2 weeks ago. 
I had a WLE with SLNB…as has been said the scar from the lymph node removal hurts!!! Much more than anticipated. Only in the last couple of days have I had any issues with the breast and it’s now shooting pain’s presumably as it’s healing. 

I am a teacher and signed off for another week then may consider a phased return.I was advised not to go back to work, from my consultant, until my results but they are not coming until 25th May; nearly 5 weeks post op.

I’m hoping to get away with radiotherapy which will again mean an impact on my work…. Incredibly frustrating but I will be better for healing fully before trying to go back to full time.

 

 Only my story…we all heal differently…but wanted to share from a 2 week post op status!

 

 Take care…you are in a whirlwind of tests and treatment…. Be kind to yourself x

Seabreeze
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Daised,

You are welcome - thank you for replying.

It's no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed, you were only diagnosed a week or so ago, I couldn't even say the words breast cancer at that stage! I had to say lump whenever I spoke to friends.

Many of us refer to our bc journeys as being a bit like a rollercoaster ride for good reason and there are always people here to help or share with, who just get the whole bc thing! That overwhelmed feeling generally fades with time and once your treatment gets going.  

Try to calm your mind and find ways to temporarily stop it from racing, by speaking to friends (preferably seeing, from a safe distance), going for a walk somewhere green and listening to the birds, if you enjoy gardening (and have access to a small space or even a window ledge) go for it, and if you've never tried it before its worth having a go at mindfulness (since it can just make the spinning thoughts and feelings stop for awhile). Happy to expand a tad if you've not tried it re how to try.  

It's really good that you've spoken to your employer and that they are being supportive.

Most importantly - and it's bit of a mantra to many of us - try to take one day at a time and be kind and compassionate to yourself.

Do post again whenever you feel the need!

Gentle virtual hugs 

X Seabreeze 

Daised
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply so thoughtfully. That's really helpful.

There is such a lot to think about, it is overwhelming. Thankfully I do have good friends to talk to and work are being as supportive as they can.  I'm still a bit of a mess most of the time!  😕

 

Seabreeze
Member

Re: I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi Daised,

Welcome to the forum, you've come to a good place for advice and support through all the ups and downs of the breast cancer journey.  

Firstly, sorry you have had cause to join our special club. While there are a fantastic group of women on here, I'm sure most of us would wish we'd never needed to join! Although having said that, I've ended up strangely hooked on giving back (since I found reading posts here so helpful when I was diagnosed).

So many considerations...here we go, in no particular order....and with lots of virtual hugs though the list...

The op

  • It's good that they can remove that lump so promptly. Recovery from the lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy varies from person to person (you knew that was coming)! Most people take a few days to get over the anaesthetic let alone any other aspects (physical healing and psychological - again, we are all different and this can affect us at different times).
  • They will give you painkillers to take home, however we all have different pain thresholds and bruise or get swelling to various levels. The degree of surgery may also be a factor, i.e. how intrusive the surgery is, size, location, depth of lump etc.
  • The side where the sentinel node is being removed will probably feel quite stiff for awhile. Some women need drains after surgery too, they will let you know before the op if this is a possibility.
  • They will give you exercises to help gradually loosen things up across the chest and armpit area.  
  • With all of the above you might find you aren't sleeping as well as usual (again, personal thing, but worth considering if you are thinking about working as soon as you feel up to it).   
  • A really good supportive non-wired sports bra can help reduce the amount of swelling.
  • Eating protein at each meal can also help with cell repair.
  • Usually you'll have a follow up appointment with the oncologist 2 weeks after your op to check the op site/s plus to give you the results of the analysis of the tissue they removed, which will include the nodes, the lump, plus an area around the edge of the lump, referred to as the margin. In the majority of cases the margin is clear of bc cells, but sometimes bc cells are present, in which case they may want to remove a bit more tissue.
  • The size of lump and type of bc will have a bearing on what additional treatments you may need, as will whether the node/s are found to be clear or not. 
  • Your Breast Care Nurse at the hospital will also be able to provide advice and support. (Plus all of us on here!)    
  • You might find it helpful to call the nurse at Breast Cancer Now (number top right of screen) to talk through your diagnosis, op, recovery and any other info your medical team may have given you about whether any other treatments may be recommended. 

Income/sick pay  

  • I appreciate you say you only get 4 weeks sick pay. Have you double checked your contract and/or employers policies to see if you get a period on say half sick pay after that? 
  • You should qualify for statutory sick pay after your companies sick pay comes to an end. I appreciate it may be significantly lower than your normal income from work....
  • You might find it helpful to phone MacMillan since they have a very good employment and cancer team.
  • I appreciate we all need money to live, however at the risk of pointing out the obvious, if you've been diagnosed with breast cancer you really do need to give your body the best opportunity to rest and recover. Stress can affect our immunity and defence systems...and clearly there are multiple factors here, stress if you are pushing yourself to work when your body might be telling you to rest, stress re bc (full stop), stress re managing/sick pay, plus the psychological impacts of a bc diagnosis itself.
  • Do you have a partner who could help support you more than normal? If not do you have any savings, or a close friend or family member, just in case you need to call on such routes?  
  • Given many forms of bc do need follow up treatments, it would be good if you could come up with a contingency plan just in case. 
  • How stressful is your job? How flexible is your employer (see below)?
  • Importantly - As soon as you are diagnosed with cancer you are covered by disability legislation (Equalities Act 2010), which means as soon as you have told your employer about the bc, they have a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' when you return to work. That may be them agreeing to shorter working days for a period (which may effectively help you to stretch out your full sick pay). Again you may find MacMillan helpful re advice.

Now the important stuff - how are you actually feeling? With all of the above to consider, if you haven't already done so, please talk to someone you trust (preferably someone who is quite calm) about your diagnosis, your feelings and concerns, including your worries about sick pay. 

Regardless of how well you think you are managing handling the news of your diagnosis, you may not be thinking as clearly as normal (for totally understandable reasons!) which is where a good friend can really help. (Plus all of us on here)! 

I hope the above helps in some way...more than happy to expand on anything if you have any queries.

I'm sure others will post soon.     

Sending you a gentle virtual hug.

Seabreeze xxx 

   

 

 

Daised
Member

I'm new! Post surgery recovery and work

Hi

I was diagnosed just over a week ago and it has been quite the rollercoaster. I'm booked in for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy next Friday 7th.  My Breast Nurse said they will automatically give me a certificate for work for 2 weeks. Brilliant I thought, and duly let work know. I've since realised that work will only pay me 4 weeks sick pay per year. So I'm worried about my further treatments and possibility of further surgery and all the unknowns that could mean I'm off sick again.  Could any of you lovely people advise me how long it took before you felt ok to work after surgery? I'm working from home, sitting at a laptop.  Should I just take the 2 weeks and rest and recover, gather my thoughts or should I hop back on the laptop asap and store that sick pay time in case I need it?  I know you're going to say see how you feel! That's the only way, but some idea of how long I might expect to feel rough or too sore to sit and work would be much appreciated!

There's SO much to think about!

Thank you in advance

xx

PS I'm interested if anyone else was diagnosed as part of the BRAID clinical trial?