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November 2021 Surgeries

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txlorelei
txlorelei Member Posts: 68

It looks like time to to start a November thread.



My left side mastectomy (no reconstruction) is scheduled for November 12. This is my second rodeo; I had a Mx and ALND on the right side April 1. Midway through chemo, a checkup mammogram and subsequent biopsy found LCIS on my “good" left side. Based on my history (lobular is sneaky!), I decided not to wait. Now I'll be all flat rather than lopsided.

Things I found helpful during round one:

Wedge pillow for sleeping

Small pillow in the car to protect against the seatbelt

Front close pajamas, shirts,and hoodies

Constipation meds and extra strength Tylenol

Lightweight foam breast forms at Busted Tank

Do your arm exercises


Feel free to ask me questions if you want.


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  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,581
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    I have an expected surgical date for somewhere around the 25th-30th. Just met with surgeon and they have to get everyone lined up and theatre space booked. Single right-side mastectomy with axillary node dissection. DIEP reconstruction proposed/expected, though I need to have an initial chat with the plastic surgeon yet and get the reasoning behind that and if there is any other potential option as I am a little gun shy about surgery near my stomach.

    I had a reduction years ago so this isn't going to be entirely new terrain for me!


  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Sigh. I’m scheduled for a BMX with lymph biopsies on the 17th. Still deciding about reconstruction.

    More importantly, I’m still deciding about whether to get SLNB/ALNB before BMX surgery. Negative lesion biopsy in July meant the lymph nodes were not touched with successful (clean margins) lumpectomy in August. DXed September after lumpectomy pathology.October PET scan inconclusive for lymph activity. Everything else was clean. Mammaprint favorable. Trying not to overtreat. Started AIs two weeks ago.

    Getting second opinion. All of this sucks to high heaven.

  • TazMom
    TazMom Member Posts: 11
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    Hi TXLorelei,

    I had a BMX last Friday. I’ve actually had great luck with regards to pain. They prescribed Norco, but I haven’t needed it. I had a follow up wound check with the doctor on Tuesday and she said everything looked good and she didn’t feel fluid build up on the left side. I’ve noticed today especially that it feels tender under my arms and it feels like it’s swollen on both sides. How would I know if they’re actually swollen? I was told not to raise my arms above my head, but I’ve been able to raise them shoulder height and I’ve been able to bend over. From what I’ve read elsewhere it doesn’t sound like I should be doing all that. Now I wonder if I’ve done something to cause harm. What was your recovery like after your MX

  • txlorelei
    txlorelei Member Posts: 68
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    I was able to raise my arm to shoulder height right away. I did the walk your hand up the wall exercise daily to increase my range of motion. There was a sudden, noticeable improvement about 4 weeks after surgery. Six months later, I can move around just as well as I did before but I do feel tightness under my arm that will probably never go away.

  • loverofjesus
    loverofjesus Member Posts: 174
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    I'm having a DMX with expanders put in on November 2. I am praying for clean margins and an easy recovery. I pray everyone in this group does great with surgery.

    I will update after surgery if you guys would like for me to for the ones that have surgery later in the month. I would like to be helpful to you all if I can be.

    Prayers for all and hugs

    LoverofJesus

  • TazMom
    TazMom Member Posts: 11
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    Thank you TXLorelei! Good luck on your surgery

  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Hi Everyone,

    Wishing everyone the best with surgeries and recoveries. I’m having BMX with sentinel node biopsy and tissue expanders on 11/11. There isn’t a lot of research on contralateral recurrence with multicentric BC but what there is shows some higher chance of recurrence. And having watched a family member have their cancer recur repeatedly over 30 years led me to the choice for BMX. I’ll have DIEP flap reconstruction sometime down the track. Finding the second tumor on MRI was a real shock (the MRI was to just “double check nothing slipped past”). So while all my imaging suggest clear lymph nodes, I’m not counting on that, just trying to stay hopeful.

    BCinfoseeker, feel you on the multiple tumors. So hard to figure out best paths forward.

  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Hello again ladies - Yes please everyone update this thread with experiences and results from your surgeries.

    I’m having surgery on 11/17 and as of this moment, I’m thinking right mastectomy with reconstruction, and just leaving the left one. Getting a second opinion next week with another surgeon. Still deciding. This is easily the most difficult decision I’ve had. I’m somewhat calmer about it though.

  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Hi all,

    Good luck with your decision, BCInfoseeker—totally agree that it’s the hardest decision. I’m under a couple weeks out from my BMX surgery and it’s hitting kind of hard today. I definitely look forward to having the tumors gone. I’ve always been a pretty practical person and don’t think of myself as someone to whom appearances is paramount. But today, it’s hitting hard that I’m going to look very different, I’m going to have a lot of scars, etc, etc.

    Being in this club none of us wished for is so hard some days. Trying to channel my inner Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. May we all feel that on the days we really need it!

    All the best to all of you!

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,581
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    Had my CT angiogram this morning for the Diep planning - haven't even met the plastic surgeon yet! That will be next Wednesday. Given my situation and reason for the surgery I feel pretty confident in this plan, especially after doing some more research and reading stories/looking at recon photos on other sites.

  • GalleySlave
    GalleySlave Member Posts: 17
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    Add me to the list. Skin-sparing MX of left breast with SNLB and TE implant is scheduled for 11/9. Fingers crossed that there is no nodal involvement and clear margins. Then I can be done with this….sort of.

    Wishing you all the best processes and outcomes.


  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Hi Everyone!

    How are those you post-surgery doing? @TazMom and @LoverofJesus? Hoping things are going smoothly.

    I'm in the countdown to 11/11 and my BMX. Quarantining now per doctors' orders due to the really high COVID rates in my town. Colorado hospitals just went to a tier 3 alert that can allow hospitals to move less critical people around as needed. Just adds a little more to the anxiety of facing a major surgery. 🙄 Elective surgeries are now on hold, hoping that won't be the case when I'm ready to do my DIEP reconstruction!

    How's everyone doing who is focusing on preparing for surgery? I've been gathering things to have here at home and to take to the hospital, it feels a little like nesting before having a baby! And we're doing all of that in the middle of a house move, which is less than ideal, but at least the new house is a wonderful place only a couple of blocks from our last house. I'm setting up our bedroom and other areas with views and healing in mind. ❤️

    Sending everyone love and strength for the journey.

  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Good (well, bad really) to hear from everyone regarding their dates and procedures. Please post afterwards when you can. Moving in the middle of recovering from surgery is just wild labmama but I hope there are plenty of helpers! And yes, I’ve ordered stuff like a mastectomy pillow and some loose drawstring yoga pants. It’s all sitting there waiting

    I’m a bit more firm on unilateral and flat closure with prosthesis, then post radiation (if needed) going with the flap surgery. I saw our local prosthesis person and the new ones are very nice. It could be my endgame.

  • loverofjesus
    loverofjesus Member Posts: 174
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    I am four days out from BMX with tissue expanders placed. I’m doing pretty good. Not allot of pain. But i have not used the bathroom. I have peed. But that is all. I took dulcolax but that really didn’t do much. Maybe I just have not given it enough time.

    Any suggestions?


  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,581
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    I had a response but it was eaten in the tech mess of last week!

    Got my date - three weeks from today on the 28th. Yes, a Sunday - they are working full out here due to the pandemic backlog. Also met with plastic surgeon and a plan has come together I feel confident about. I've also started rounding up things I know I have in the house for post surgical care, and filling the freezer with things to easily defrost/reheat or add to others like baked potatoes or rice, etc. Other Half can be a pretty good cook but left to his own devices he would only eat popcorn, fish roe on krispbrod, and milk.

    LoverofJesus - that is not a great situation, post-surgical or post-serious pain medication constipation is a tough beast and needs to be managed. First, try some prune juice (sold by the milk in the chiller section in cartons) and make sure you are getting a lot of water. A trick of my mothers is to drink a glass of warm water from the tap that usually helps more than you think it would. If neither of those work today, call your designated nurse, they will have something stronger or possibly recommend suppositories to soften things up and get it moving.

  • loverofjesus
    loverofjesus Member Posts: 174
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    Hello everyone! I’m doing better today. This is day six.

    Ok so here is the lowdown

    1 tubes suck!! There are not other words for them. They are not fun at all. Doable but awful at the same time.

    2 if you’re fiercely independent like me this surgery is awful. 😂 I can’t do as much for myself because my dr said limit the use of your arms. Well that pretty much includes everything. So I sit and watch tv, read, walk around my house, take a nap, depend on hubby a lot. And that is so so hard for me. But the least amount of movement will mean tubes are out faster. Refer to number one! 😆

    3 pain is not bad. Mostly sore and stiff feeling. Not horrible. I learned to sleep on my back and have an adjustable bed so that helps a lot. So I sleep well. Again the tubes have to be stripped and emptied during the day. Which requires hubby because even though you could do it alone it would be very hard and probably not as effective. Again refer to number one ☝️ 😝

    As you see my sense of humor is not gone. Take care of yourself after surgery. Follow drs orders. And take naps. It will be over soon. If anyone wants any questions to ask I’m open and will help anyway I can.

    Hugs and prayers to all.


  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Thanks LoJ - good to read that you’ve come though it, the pain is manageable and that you’re coping. It seems like rest is the key and staying on top of drains. I’ve opted for unilateral (need to update profile) and I’m a side sleeper so I’ll have to adjust like you mentioned.

    Are you still on pain meds other than OTC? I hate opioids and want to get off them fast!

  • loverofjesus
    loverofjesus Member Posts: 174
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    Bcinfoseeker— I’m not still on pain meds. I only took them about two full days. I take Aleve right now. It not as good but it helps. I’m just ready for these tubes to come out. They are miserable. There is no comfortable way to deal with them.


  • deborra67
    deborra67 Member Posts: 13
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    Hi all, checking in to see how the November surgery recoveries are going and to post my date.. November 18th. I don't think my surgery date will change, but things are up in the air for me right now because of an MRI I had last week. I was originally looking towards a partial mx for a 3cm ILC tumor, but the MRI shows another area that I had biopsied yesterday measuring 5.2 x 2.1.. so that's quite a bit more. I really don't have an idea if I'm going to need to re-evaluate, but it seems from reading on these boards that a larger size (and multiple) is going to change things.

    Thinking of you all, speedy recoveries & for those of you in 'wait' like me - deep breaths and do something fun to take your mind off of everything!

  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Good to hear from folks!

    Deborra67, I’m sorry to hear they found more. As someone who also found out about a 2nd tumor after MRI, I can imagine how this throws things back into limbo-land in terms of plans. Once my BS knew there was a 2nd, she said mastectomy, no lumpectomy. Mine are in two different quadrants (8 o’clock and 11 o’clock) and IDC/DCIS. All the best as you work your way forward in making plans. So hard!

    LoverofJesus, thank you for your update and I hope you’ve been able to *ahem* poop by now! That is no fun. And I hope your drains come out quickly!! Not looking forward to that. I’ll have my older sister here too, so hoping between her and my DH, they can manage the drains easily enough for me.

    GalleySlave, been thinking about you today and hope all has gone very well. Let us know how you’re doing.

    BCInfoSeeker, hoping your preparations for your surgery are going well.

    SondraF, I’ll be thinking of you on the 28th.

    Our house move has gone well and I’ve had some great friends come help pack/unpack, hang pictures, etc. I won’t be using my home office for awhile, so it’s become box land and I can just close the door. 😁

    I’ll let you all know how things go after the 11th. The countdown has begun and of course I feel like there are way more things I would like to get done before I go in, but we will just do what’s feasible and let the rest go. Ready to have the cancer outta there! Someone sent me a funny: Cancer touched my boob so I kicked its a$$. Hope it gives you a chuckle!

    Sending love, light, and strength for the journey to all

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,581
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    Labmama - hope you are doing well and out of surgery and into recovery! When you feel up to it, let us sitting in the Waiting Room know how it all went and any tips :)

  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Hi Everyone!

    I’m doing pretty well 2 days post-op now! Spent 1 night in the hospital. Took a looooong time to get a room for me due to all the COVID patients taking up rooms. At first they thought I might have to stay in the PACU overnight because of the lack of rooms, but late the evening of my surgery they got me into a private room. Slept ok—my O2 kept dropping so they kept me on oxygen overnight and monitored. Then I got to come home late yesterday afternoon. Slept 5 hours at a stretch last night, which was wonderful! Just taking 1 hydrocodone every 6 hours with some Tylenol, moving to Ibuprofen today, in between. Hydrocodone has Tylenol in it too, so we have to be careful how much.

    I have 2 drains. They haven’t been too bad, but I’ve learned to hold the tube up by my incision myself when others are stripping the drains—that way I know there will be no pulling. 😁 Dear hubby and my sister have been here and great.

    Someone gifted me some post-mastectomy shirts—kind of a cross between scrubs and a bowling shirt style. They have Velcro up the front instead of buttons and pockets for drains. Not exactly fashionable, but handy. I’ve used them to sleep in as they are light weight. I have a hoodie I’m wearing the in the day that is a bit warmer and also has pockets on the inside. Long flowy, soft pj pants are awesome. I’m sleeping in a recliner and that’s working well for me with two small pillows on each side to rest my arms—I call it the Lawn Chair Queen pose.

    One thing we worked toward, which has been handy in the night, is to get my drain schedule and pain med schedule to line up. That way I’m only waking up once in the night. Knock on wood tonight is as good as last night. And trying very hard to not over do it—I feel well enough that I moved my arms around more than I should have this afternoon and my last drain amounts had increased, so time to listen to my body and learn.

    On the cancer side, I am sooooooo happy to report that sentinel node biopsy was clean. YAY!!! They got large margins for both tumors—they were kind of mid-breast tissue, so plenty of margin with the mastectomy. I had decided that I wanted prophylactic mastectomy on my right side, I just felt that I didn’t want to have the risk anymore and that the monitoring and likely biopsies (it had been biopsied more than my right) were more anxiety than keeping my breast was worth. I am so glad I listened to my gut on this—pathology showed an incidental focus of atypical lobular hyperplasia. So an area of precancerous concern. And now it can’t show up as it’s “outta there”!! Feeling very, very blessed that everything has been caught early and as tough as BMX is, that and hormone therapy is going to be it. ❤️

    I hope this finds all of you well and hanging in there. We are warriors. Brave women even when we might not feel that way. And we all have a host of people, whether here and/or in other parts of our lives, cheering us on.

    I will be checking back here often to see how you are all doing. ❤️ Fight on, sisters

  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Good to hear Labmama! It seems you got through well and with good/reinforcing news on the pathology. Frankly it’s the best outcome we can ask for!

    More later…

  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Day 3 Post-Op has been all right. Only new issue has been some chest wall spasms behind the tissue expanders. If they keep up, I’ll call my BS tomorrow. Anyone reading this have similar spasms?

    BCInfoseeker, I hope your surgery coming up goes very smoothly. I do feel I had the best outcome possible—sending wishes for the same to you and everyone here. Let us know how it’s going.


  • txlorelei
    txlorelei Member Posts: 68
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    My left mastectomy was Friday afternoon and I came home from the hospital Saturday morning. Things still hurt if I move too fast but I'm hopeful that I'll recover quicker this time around because I didn't have any lymph nodes removed.

    Good luck to everyone elseHeart


  • labmama56
    labmama56 Member Posts: 21
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    Hi TXLorelei, glad to hear you got through the surgery and back home. Slow and steady, right? Hope your day today is going well. All the best to everyone

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    moderators Posts: 7,913
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  • BCinfoseeker
    BCinfoseeker Member Posts: 31
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    Had UMX surgery yesterday midday. So far so good with pain (not awful) and drain (also not awful). I have to say, comparing my lumpectomy experience in August, this is pretty darn similar. Novocain is wearing off so we'll see 😅 Took a couple of Tylenol with codine for earlier doses but the last time plain Tylenol. Fingers crossed that it's sufficient.

    Looking down hasn't been as traumatic as I thought, though I have a large bandage. I believe that my BS took only the sentinel node and she used the dye to identify more; the rest seemed clear to her. Pathology report will be back Tuesday at my post op exam.

    One big difference with many of your accounts is that I went home afterwards. So they can remove a body part and off you go! I was calling it a drive-by boob removal 😆 Apparently most breast surgeries are like this by either the surgeon or the facility- not certain what drives it. Even for long ones like BMX/flap. Crazy!

    Two things have made my specific experience much better and I can only hope for the same for everyone: (1) really REALLY top-notch, seamless care by doctors and nursing staff at the surgery center, and (2) amazing support from my husband and friends and family. Cancer dx and Mx are already awful and life alterin - experiences to treat it shouldn't be.

    I'm using my tablet to write this and it sucks; more later when I can use a proper keyboard lol.

    Xo ladies ❤️❤️

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,581
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    BC - that is awesome to hear that its essentially a day surgery and overall isn't that painful. Or at least that part :) I'm having a bit more cut out and rearranged but even then it sounds like after a few days folks are on the mend. Lord I hope so as oncology want to see me a week after and getting to and from the hospital here is a major undertaking if you can't use public transport.

    Just wrapping up work this week and handing over, but have discussion with BS tonight, nurse pre-op chat next Tuesday, pre-op testing Thursday and into quarantine for a few days. I feel like Ive been waiting AGES for this and can't wait to get it done.

    TXLorelei - when you had the axillary removal were you still able to use your right arm after a few days for things like typing, etc?

  • txlorelei
    txlorelei Member Posts: 68
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    SondraF - As I recall, I was able to type on my tablet after a day or two. My first try at sitting at a desk and using the mouse came around day 10 and I had to rest frequently.

    I saw the PS today for my follow up and he only removed one drain. Because of the holiday next week, I can't get the other one out until Dec 2.