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Nervous and scared about mastectomy

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Autumn111
Autumn111 Member Posts: 7
edited August 2014 in Stage III Breast Cancer

having a unilateral mastectomy tomorrow and am very scared.  i  had a sentinel node biopsy done a few months ago and did well with that but not sure how i will do with t is major surgery.  any advice and support would be greatly appreciated.  

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  • inks
    inks Member Posts: 57
    edited June 2014
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    I will be thinking about you tomorrow! Mastectomy was really no biggie for me. Previously I had only had my appendix out and a C-section, for me the C-section was way worse. Most of the discomfort for me came from the drains but you get used to those too. Some people sleep in recliners after surgery but I preferred my bed. I just put pillows on each side under my arms and a bunch of pillows behind my back so I was semi upright. Take your pain meds if you need them and take a stool softener if you get constipated. Hugs! Let us know how it goes!

  • TectonicShift
    TectonicShift Member Posts: 102
    edited August 2014
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    Mine wasn't too bad. Just be sure to ask the nurse for Ativan or something else if you need it for pain/nausea. (I usually have nausea after general anesthesia).

    But I didn't have much pain and once I got home the next day It wasn't bad. The drains are a pain but -- nah, you'll do fine.

  • Lorbgoo
    Lorbgoo Member Posts: 111
    edited June 2014
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    mine wasn't bad either. I'm hoping it goes smoothly and you can restcomfortably.  

  • cordelia
    cordelia Member Posts: 3
    edited June 2014
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    Autumn,

    The build up of nerves before surgery can be overwhelming.  I hope that hearing stories from some of us will help.  I had a mastectomy and lymph node removal almost a year ago.  I had very little pain.  I came home from the hospital after 30 hours.  I did not need any pain relievers after the fourth day.  The drains were a nuisance, but they came out after 7 days.  My cousin got married 10 days after my surgery.  I traveled 3 hours to attend the wedding and danced with my husband.  I was tired, but not in pain.  Most ladies I know have been pleasantly surprised that the procedure is much easier than they anticipated.  Keep your chin up!  Wonderful, happy days are ahead for you!!

  • mary625
    mary625 Member Posts: 154
    edited June 2014
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    Same here...not a lot of pain.  I did not have TE's put in so I'm not sure if that would have caused discomfort--probably.  I did not wake up in any pain.  I took minimal pain medication.  I know it's very scary, but all you have to do is get through the preparations before, then you'll go to sleep, wake up and it's over!

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited June 2014
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    Same here, I had a Unilateral done 18 months ago with a SNB earlier that day. I didn't have any pain when I woke, in fact, I spent the night walking the halls, chatting and having cups of tea with the nursing staff. I didn't need any pain meds at all and I went home next morning.

    On the way home, I got my Husband to call into a shopping mall and I went in with my drain in a shoulder bag and bought some shoes:)

    I agree that the drains are a nuisance and the relief, when they come out is amazing. I don't want to sound flippant about the surgery, but I was really very surprised at how well I felt. It is a surgery of weird sensations and I was very tired after the surgery. I could drop off to sleep mid sentence in the first few weeks, even though I felt like I could do almost anything. Your body will let you know if you overdo it!

    I totally understand how frightened you are, we all do, but it won't be long till you are on the other side of it, back here, letting us know how you're doing. Take it easy! 

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited June 2014
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    I did not have a bad time of it. Mine was a double, with sentinel out on one side, and 22 nodes out on the cancer side. I found the recovery surprisingly OK. I was tired for several weeks and there was discomfort, but no serious pain at any time. 

    I did have mild discomfort on and off for a LONG time though. The scar feels tight, and it can feel like someone is running a brillo pad across the area or something. Make sure to stretch (once you are 2-3 weeks out) and I also found that taking an anti-inflammatory once in a while helped.

  • hopefour
    hopefour Member Posts: 104
    edited June 2014
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    Autumn...hope the surgery is over and you are finding that the fear was the worst of it. I didn't deal with much pain with my BMX, but I also didn't start the reconstruction process when having the BMX. My greatest fear was seeing myself...but that too wasn't so bad!! Hopefully the drains will go well for you and this soon will be behind you!! 

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited June 2014
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    Mine was a piece of cake physically but very hard emotionally if I had known how good the plastic surgery deip was going to go it would have made me feel much better. The thought of the mastectomy scared me almost as much as the cancer

  • Zeeba
    Zeeba Member Posts: 13
    edited June 2014
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    I'm 7 weeks out from bilateral w/ expanders....it's really not that bad....take the pain pills as you need them....follow doctor's orders...queue up some good TV and let folks take care of you. I was up and taking a walk around the neighborhood a few days later. 2 drains out in 1 week and the last 2 out 2 weeks later---the drains are the worst part. I was terrified and the anticipation was WAY worse than the actual.  The expanders are annoying at worst....Hope all goes well!

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Member Posts: 14
    edited June 2014
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    Autumn, I had a bilateral in 2004.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  Get plenty of rest and do what the doctors tell you to do.  I hope at this point, you are home and getting around.  Let us know how you are doing.

  • Autumn111
    Autumn111 Member Posts: 7
    edited June 2014
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    Thanks everyone for all of your understanding and support, I don't feel so alone anymore.  The surgery went well and it was over before I knew it, like many of you have mentioned , the hardest part so far  has been the drains, which hopefully will be removed tomorrow when I see the doc.  By the way, how many of you have had reconstruction or plan to?  I have decided not to have reconstruction and just wear a prosthesis instead.  Thanks again for your caring and comments.

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited June 2014
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    Great to see you through to this side Autumn! So glad it hasn't been too bad for you, those drains get to all of us!

    I am a Uni, but chose not to reconstruct and have never regretted my decision. It is a little harder to match sides, than a BMX, but by no means too difficult. There is so much out there, in Foobs and Prosthesis, there's great clothing with Mx bras built in, which are just so comfortable. It takes a bit of research and some time, but well worth the effort when you find what suits you. Good Luck!

    Edited to remove some added text, I thought you'd had a BMX.

  • morwenna
    morwenna Member Posts: 204
    edited June 2014
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    .... and there's no "decide by" date for reconstruction. See how you go along the way with one breast, and then you can always ask for recon later, if you want to, once you know what not doing it is like! 

  • mary625
    mary625 Member Posts: 154
    edited June 2014
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    I had BMX without any recon so far.  I do fine with a variety of prostheses, and I wear just about anything I want to.  

  • morwenna
    morwenna Member Posts: 204
    edited June 2014
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    .... or you can do what Mary625 above did, and get a second mastectomy. It's what I'm considering doing if they feel my risks are too high for flap recon....... 

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited June 2014
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    Autumn, I had a BMX. Initially I was told that they would do expanders at the same time. Then when they realized the extent of it, the need for heavy radiation and the high risk of recurrence, they said I had to wait 2 years. At the time it seemed a bit shocking, but in hindsight, I am so glad that I had the extra time to think, research and just also to see how it actually felt to not have any breasts.

    At this point, almost 3 years out, I doubt that I will ever have recon. But as others say, you can do it at any time, so it is nice to know that if I change my mind somewhere along the line, I can have it done. I usually wear tiny foobs, often just a double bra pad in a yoga top. It is light, easy and gives just enough of a bump to make clothes hang right. The whole foob thing is a bit trickier when you have to match a remaining breast, but play around and see what suits you. I had, by the way, a friend in college, who had lost one breast. She never wore a foob and she looked fabulous.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,085
    edited June 2014
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    Autumn, glad to hear the surgery went well for you and is over. Thinking of you!!

    The Mods--

  • Autumn111
    Autumn111 Member Posts: 7
    edited July 2014
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    Thanks again everyone for your comments!!  I finally had the drains removed last Friday, and what a relief, however, it painful when the doc removed them and I actually cried, but it only lasted a couple of minutes.  I will have to completely heal before I get my prosthesis so I have been using tissues in my mastectomy side (right side) to look even, of course, girls and women have been doing that for ages to look bigger (Lol)...  I  had thought abouit a double or bilateral mastectomy but just couldn't have the healthy breast removed.  I'm doing  okay so far with having only one, just a matter of getting used to it.  

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Member Posts: 14
    edited July 2014
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    Autumn, I remember what a relief it was to get those drains out.  My surgeon removed them and didn't warn me of the pain it would cause.  But, like you said, the pain was over quickly.  Thanks for letting us know how you are doing.  Stay strong!

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited July 2014
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    Hello Autumn, glad you are free of the drains, that was the worst part for me, having them and removal too!

    I am a Uni too. I couldn't remove my good breast either, so I know, just what you mean.

    It won't be long till you can be fitted for a foob or Prosthesis, 6 weeks is the norm. They prefer most of the external healing and the swelling to be stable before they fit you. I was so anxious to get on with it that I turned up at the fitter, just 1 week after surgery. When they discovered I was just 1 week out they shooed me away and told me it was a 6 week minimum. I was back 6 weeks to the day and was fitted for my first prosthesis and a few bras and a camisole. I have never looked back and have found all kinds of foobs and Prosthesis for different clothing and swimwear etc.

    There are soft pouffy things available from online Mx stores or fitters in lingerie shops, at a very small cost. They have removable stuffing in them, to get you through till a proper fitting.

    In Australia where I am, they supply everyone who is Dx with a front closure soft bra and these pouffy things along with a cushion for in the car to protect from the seat belt and a shoulder bag for the drains. 

    If you need any help with dressing, there are many Uni's here who will be happy to pass on our findings to you, just ask us anything. Take care!

       

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited July 2014
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    I need to send my doc over there and teach docs how to remove drains. I had been warned about the pain of drain removal, and my doc swore I wouldn't feel it. He was right. He was super-careful. I am sorry it was painful.

    I hope you feel better soon. 

  • kicks
    kicks Member Posts: 319
    edited July 2014
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    When my drains were removed there was just a slight sensation of a 'tickling' on the outside where they went through the skin.  Definately no pain at all.

  • Autumn111
    Autumn111 Member Posts: 7
    edited July 2014
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    Hello, my sisters.  Sorry I haven't responded sooner, have been back at work, which helps me alot.  I'm still doing well, just tired of the "makeshift prosthesis" that I made with the tissue paper, have to check myself often in the mirror to make sure I'm not "lop-sided".  Actually, it was a nurse that initially removed the first drain and when she saw that I was in pain, she got the doctor who removed the other drain.  He is an excellent surgeon and a very caring man, I am very blessed to have him.  How did chemotherapy go for all of you?  

  • sbelizabeth
    sbelizabeth Member Posts: 956
    edited July 2014
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    Autumn, you don't have to use a makeshift tissue-paper breast form.  If your insurance company won't help (or the co-pay is too expensive) there are cancer centers all over the place who have post-op soft forms as well as donated breast forms.  When I had my mx, the breast cancer navigator gave me a post-mastectomy camisole that included two soft fiber-filled puffs that served as breasts for a good while. 

    If you want, PM me and I will help you look.  When I had my recon, I donated four beautiful, hardly-used forms and the unworn camisole to the local cancer center.  They're there for whomever needs them. 

    My chemo was prior to my mx, but it was 100% do-able.  I worked full time through it, taking of a couple of days with each round.  Each of us respond differently to cancer poison, but for me, it was mostly a feeling of "flu"--tired and wrung-out.  Thanks to the anti-nausea drugs they loaded me up with, I never had a moment off nausea. 

    Thanks for asking for help!

  • Autumn111
    Autumn111 Member Posts: 7
    edited July 2014
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    Thanks for the advice.  I should be be healed soon and on my way to a "real" prosthesis.  Like you, I had chemo prior to surgery and had only mild "side effects", and also like you, I worked full-time and the "anti-nausea" drugs worked wonders for me.  Some people have a "bad" experience with the "poison", so we were both very fortunate.  

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Member Posts: 14
    edited July 2014
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    I had TAC x 4 before surgery and then TAC x 2 after surgery.  I was fine until those last two and they kicked my behind.  I think it was because of having the surgery and then starting the last two TAC just two weeks after.  It seemed the treatments and side effects were all cumulative for me.  I was completely wiped out after the chemo and surgery.  The rads truly were a piece of cake for me.

    Autumn, thanks for checking in.  It sounds like you are doing well!

  • Lily55
    Lily55 Member Posts: 1,748
    edited July 2014
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    Autumn I used soft socks in first few weeks.......

  • sbelizabeth
    sbelizabeth Member Posts: 956
    edited July 2014
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    Once in a while I would arrive at my office, 30 miles from home, and remember I had left my breast at home in a drawer.  I discovered a balled-up Swiffer duster (without the handle) worked pretty well.

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited July 2014
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    That's funny sbelizabeth!

    I find myself grabbing my chest if I am going into a meeting or a restaurant, to make sure I have a foob on, and to make sure it is straight!