Aug 11, 2020 07:58PM beeline wrote:
Hi Renbird, I am small like you and had a mastectomy on my R breast with no recon. My surgeon said I wouldn't have a good aesthetic outcome from a lumpectomy (like the golfball and tangerine analogy. Someone else mentioned a shark bite). As it turned out, I had a lot of DCIS through my breast so it would have needed to come off anyway. I will just warn that your post-surgical pathology could change. I also went in to surgery as a stage 1A but ended up with 11 positive lymph nodes and stage 3C. No one ever mentioned the possibility to me. Anyway, recovery was pretty ok. The worst part was under my armpit for the ALND. My surgeon promised me I'd be able to attend my 5 y.o.'s birthday party 5 days later, and I did (though pretty drugged up!). I went back to work after 2 weeks. In retrospect, I would have taken another week off, but it was fine. You will hear from women here who only needed tylenol for the pain. I definitely needed the strong stuff, but not for very long. Also just to note I had no recon, so if you're having immediate recon, especially flap-based, the recovery time can be different.
In terms of rads, which I got to have, too, thanks to all those lymph nodes, the tattoos are literally pinpricks. Two of mine disappeared during the course of rads. There was no breath holding and they plan the rads sessions very carefully to limit exposure. Basically they don't shoot the radiation through you if they can help it, but rather at a glancing angle to get the surface or a few centimetres deep as required. The length of the zaps depends on how much area they're covering, but they were quite short as I recall. I had basically the max area covered, and would say I was on the table for less than 10 minutes each time.
Numbness varies. I was totally numb at the beginning nearly up to my collarbone. 2 years later, I have had a lot of feeling come back.
Good luck with your decision! As I'm sure you've heard many times already, it's all very personal and none of it is easy so be kind to yourself.