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Topic: Bilateral Masectomy and healing questions.

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Apr 26, 2007 11:42AM

mellen1226 wrote:

I am having a bilateral masectomy on May 7 and need some advice on how long it is going to take me to heal. I know that it varies from person to person but am just looking to see others' journey/advice. I am having a modified radical on the left and a simple with SNB on the right. I am now concerned that both arms are going to be a mess for awhile. My concern is that I have a 3 1/2 year old and wonder how long it is going to be before I can use my arms. I will have alot of help for 3 weeks but am not one to sit around and it is making me very nervous. Any advice? I am not having reconstruction. I don't know where I am with all of that yet and I do need radiation on the left side.

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Apr 26, 2007 12:01PM purplemb wrote:

Mellen, well I had just a left mast, but took 2 weeks off and was right back into stuff, I did karate and continued on after my check up...of course listen to your body...and really do it, a word from the not so had a 3 yr old grand daughter and watched her regularly since I was off anyways...she was a big help
hugs MB A website to find help
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Apr 27, 2007 12:33PM - edited Oct 2, 2011 04:47PM by Isabella4


Dx 5/14/2003, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 27, 2007 05:43PM cheryl58 wrote:

Hi mellen! I had bilateral mast without recon on June 28, 2006. The other girls are right...First and foremost, listen to your body, rest, do your exercises, drink lots of water to flush out the anesthetic, etc. and keep up with laxatives. I used cherry-flavored milk of magnesia as far as that goes and it worked just fine!

I had my surgery and was a good patient for the first 2-1/2 weeks. Then, I drove a six-hour trip with my younger son back to our hometown to visit friends and family. I don't know about lifting though, but you will feel pretty much back to your old self by about the second or third week.

Wishing you an easy surgery and sending lots of healing hugs your way. You will be just fine. Enjoy all that help you get for those 3 weeks and just let yourself heal. Let us know how you do with the surgery when you can, okay?

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Apr 28, 2007 12:38PM marlee1 wrote:

Thanks, Mellen for your initial question. I'm facing a bilateral mastectomy in about a month and was concerned about pain and recovery also. Thanks, All, for sharing your experiences and information. You've given me lots of hope and lessened my stress! I too am opting for NO reconstruction. How have you felt with that decision? Any 2nd thoughts? I want to get back to NORMAL as quickly as possible without prolonging recovery, or adding risk of side effects of reconstruction. This is a wonderful site . . . everyone's support and help has been an enormous blessing. Marlee1
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Apr 28, 2007 01:46PM nagem wrote:

I had a bilateral mastectomy in October 2006 without reconstruction. I'm totally happy with my decision both to have the mastectomy, which was partly prophylactic, and to forgo reconstruction. It has really helped with my anxiety about recurrence, and I kind of like the little-boy look I'm left with. I've got my strength back. Indeed, I'm signed up to do a yoga teacher-training program in June. Never a second thought ...

nagem (underthestinkwoodtree.blogspot...) Dx 9/23/2005, ILC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 29, 2007 04:23AM mellen1226 wrote:

Thank you everyone for your responses. I think that I am having a ton of anxiety about this surgery and your responses have helped me more then you will ever know.

Marlee1...I like you have opted for no reconstruction at this time. I just need to get on with my life for a while. I was diagnosed in October and had chemo 1st. I decided during chemo that I just wanted my life back and would decide on reconstruction some other time. I also have to have radiation on the left side. Both my surgeon and the plastic surgeon (I am being treated at Mercy in Baltimore)have assured me that I can have reconstruction any time down the road. I have an almost 4 year old and I really just want to be a mommy to him and a wife to my husband, get back to running and a few other things that I used to enjoy. I like you just do not want to be laid up again for a while or maybe not at all.

I wish you the best and you are right without this board, I probably would have gone crazy by now without all of the women here. Hang in there and please keep in touch.
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May 1, 2007 11:25AM weet wrote:

I also am having a mastectomy in about 6 -8 weeks time, after finishing chemo.Your posts here have certainly helped alleviate the concerns.Thank You all. I am wondering tho about wearing a bra afterward. I am not having immediate reconstruction and my breasts are heavy.Will I able to wear a bra to support my remaining breast? Seems a silly thing to think about what with everything but here I am... it will be t-shirt weather as well...

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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May 22, 2007 05:38AM wallycat wrote:

how did your surgery go??
I am hoping you are doing well.
Post back when you can to let us know how things are going for you!!
Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012
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May 23, 2007 01:36PM mellen1226 wrote:

I am recovering well and thank you for asking. I did get a surprise that I was not expecting and have found that I am her2+ and will start herceptin on Friday. Anybody here do herceptin? Can you tell me what the side affects are? My oncologist seems happy to have something else to treat me with. I also need to decide what I am going to do as far as hormone therapy. I meet with the radiation oncologist next week to get that moving. I am recovering and am ready to move on to the next step and get this process over with. Some days it seems never ending.

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May 23, 2007 01:54PM wallycat wrote:

YAY, it is good to hear you doing well.
I am getting mentally ready for this myself so it is heartwarming to hear when things go well and seamlessly.

I think there is a board here for HER2 positive ladies so you may want to post your questions there.

OK, now that you are an old pro at this, do YOU have any tips for the newbies about to get their bilaterals??

Best to you!
Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012
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May 23, 2007 02:51PM tos wrote:

Mellon congratulations on your quick recovery. That's good to hear,

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May 24, 2007 11:39AM mellen1226 wrote:

Do I have any advice....Take good care of yourself! I had lots of help for the 1st 2 weeks. I feel so good I am probably over doing it. I just feel like I have energy that I have not had in 6 months as I did chemo first.

What can I tell you about my experience...the drains are a pain. I had two on the left and one on the right. The right one fell out on its own. That was interesting and the other 2 came out 10 and 12 days post surgery. They are not painful just a nuisance. Do you have someone to help you with stripping the drains? The camisole with the drain holders and pockets was great and I am still wearing it with the poofy things. My arms were very sore and felt like I had road rash or rug burn on the outside of them. The surgeon said that it was the nerves regenerating. They feel almost normal today. I never really was in much pain but stay ahead of it. I took extra strength tylenol during the day and prescription pain med. at night and slept like a baby. I do have a very high tolerance for pain so I know that varies alot from person to person. Again, stay ahead of the pain once you get behind it is very hard to catch up. I also took fiber tablets, drank a ton of water, and ate extra fruit and vegetables to avoid any bathroom problems from the pain meds. I learned my lessen on chemo and never want to go back there.

I had bought a couple pairs of running pants (stretch waist) and several zip up the front shirts and they worked great. I did need help showering the 1st couple of days. It is tough with your arms hurting and the drains hanging. I also hung a thing that holds keys (I can't think of the proper name - chemo brain) around my neck and hooked the drains to those when I showered. I also did have to my right side aspirated (after the drain fell out) it did not hurt but the sloshing was a strange sensation. Also, it did not hurt to have the drains removed again it was a strange sensation but I did take tylenol about an hour before I went both times.

Get yourself a good book, movies whatever makes you happy, let everyone take care of you and you just worry about yourself. Let me know if you have any other questions or if I can help you out in any other way.

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May 24, 2007 12:31PM wallycat wrote:

I think I am coming to terms with all of this, but the actual fear of seeing myself breastless remains. Did you adjust well in those terms? How was it emotionally.
I had hopes of a nipple reconstruction but my ps seems to look at me like have 3 heads because I don't want a full reconstruction... so i think I may tattoo a flower or something where the nipple areas should be

Yes, my DH will stand by my side through all of this. He is a gem. I've already had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy and the node thing is totally healed up, so it is now prophylactic bilateral...and hopefully the surgery is less agressive.

Hugs to you and thank you for posting back.
Speedy recovery!
Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012
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May 24, 2007 02:25PM BoobsinaBox wrote:

Dear Wallycat,

I had some fear about seeing myself after my bilat a year ago. I didn't know when I would even try to look at it. Imagine my surprise when the afternoon of my surgery, I opened my top expecting to see gauze bandages, and there were the two scars, covered only with a kind of glue and the iodine-looking substance that was used as antiseptic! I never had to worry again, because I had seen the scars and that shock was over with! It was actually a relief to me. It took some months before I got used to seeing my flatness in clothes, but now I am quite content with it. What I see is "no cancer", and I like that. If it should come back later, I will know I did everything I could have done as soon as I could do it. That is what I wanted. My healing took longer than some, due to some nerve issues (and a surgeon who said, and I quote, "I didn't do anything to cause that!"). I finally got PT and got pretty well healed. I also changed surgeons! Good luck with your surgery and recovery! I'm pulling for you!


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