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Topic: How have you adjusted to being Half Flat?

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: Jan 9, 2018 08:07PM

sm627 wrote:

Dear Half Flat Sisters,

My name is Sara I am 33 years old and I have been living the Half Flat life for about 6 months now. My BS told me i can have reconstruction if i want to, but I am not sure if I want to have something not real on my body. I would like to know what your experiences have been like only having one breast? How have you emotionally felt about it and what are the physical pros and cons to only having one boob in the long term?

Thank you for sharing your stories with me reading what you have gone through will help me decide on if I want to continue being half flat.

Hugs and Love,

Sara


Diagnosed at 32 years old. DX 5/30/2017 Borderline Phyllodes Tumor 17cm. Surgery 6/27/2017 Mastectomy(right). Hormonal Therapy 9/25/2017 Tamoxifen
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May 1, 2019 11:52AM Justjay wrote:

I have been half flat since my early teens. Was born with blue nevi, had radiation as newborn, last treatment burned me severely, no tissue or hair grew on my right side. Even though I had an implant in at 15yrs old, in order to compete in swimming, one ruptured, the other one is barely there due to lack of tissue. It was tough emotionally as a kid & in my 20's to 30's, I was overly cautious & reluctant to become intimate. Today, I just want the remnants of mine removed & am in a stable, happy relationship. I am only in process of being investigated for suspicious breast lumps, I am very sorry you had to go through BC, & sending well wishes to you. **I wanted to add, here in Canada, we have Amoeaba breast protheseses available. Our Ontario Health does cover some of the cost, otherwise they are about $400.00 each**

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May 1, 2019 11:54AM Aussie-Cat wrote:

Kelly, I had a double mastectomy so I'm not in quite your situation but I have a few of ideas for you. One is that I wonder if you could pull the underwire out of only the side of your bra that had surgery, so the other side could still be properly supported. Another idea is that there are quite supportive non-underwire bras out there, so investing in some of those could be good. Amoena and Anita are well known brands of bras that have pockets for a prosthesis. There are also polyester filled soft prostheses that are more comfortable to wear soon after surgery than silicone ones, which aren't meant to be worn for at least 6-8 weeks after surgery. I hope you find some good solutions that work for you.

Diagnosed with nerve pain (post mastectomy pain syndrome) July 2018 Surgery 6/18/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right
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May 1, 2019 02:13PM - edited May 1, 2019 02:22PM by alto

KellyMSM, it can be a little challenging at first. Around 8 weeks, a real mastectomy bra will likely be much more comfortable than it is now.

I found poly-fil (from the craft or fabric store) to be the most comfortable prosthetic material in those early days (and maybe even now).

Here are a few options I tried, with more success as I moved along:

1) Amoena front close bra - stuffed with polyfil. Yes, I wanted to get out of it after an hour or two, but it worked for short trips or visits....

2) Sportsbra - I made a balloon shaped form, as wide as my scar and a little bit longer, and filled it with polyfill. I put it so the ballooned part fills the bra, but the stem hangs down below it so you can pull it down into place and adjust without looking indecent. ;) You could see if weighting it with a soft stone helps. Even then, if the bra is really supportive, it might be hard to get the sag you need.

3) Ana Ono camisoles, and stuffed the pocket with polyfil. They're comfortable, but not much support. You can kind of tug on the lightweight fabric to get it the polyfil to sag on the flat side. Not sure this would work from a support perspective - it was barely enough support for me, so I was on to my next option...

4) Loose-fitting Amoena camisole; stuffed with homemade polyfill form. Surprisingly good support (but I'm only a c/d). It kind of lifts the end of the breast up, and the light padding gives it shape that helps it look better. If you can get the right fit, this isn't tight around the ribs or side. Was really happy to find this solution for those interim days when I could almost wear a bra again, but not quite.

On days when I couldn't wear anything tight but didn't want to be half flat, I made a balloon-shaped sack of polyfil, which I pinned to a camisole or top, and then wore something over that. It fills in the empty space and allows for sag.

I was impatient with the saggy feeling, but it's just a short period of time, and you should have much better options when your healing is further along and the sensitivity goes down.

Amoena has some nice bras - and they have designs for both shallow and full cup sizes, which really helps you get the support you need..

Diagnosed at 42. Had symptoms of Paget's for years prior to positive biopsy. No Tamox because low% ER. Dx 11/2/2018, Paget's, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Surgery 11/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Right Dx 11/29/2018, DCIS/Paget's, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/19/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 12/21/2018, DCIS, Right, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 1/16/2019 Mastectomy: Right
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May 1, 2019 06:46PM MexicoHeather wrote:

KellyMSM: You're right about the scar getting in the way of an underwrite. You need a wide soft support. Perhaps a camisoles with a shelf then make a little scissor cut on the flat side to be loose over the scar.

Dios es Amor. Dx 10/1/2016, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/5/2016 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 5/10/2017 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 10/10/2017 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery 12/6/2018 Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 6, 2019 11:00AM bennybear wrote:

Kelly, the knitted knockers are great at first. Go to a prosthetic place soon as they have light or swim forms that work. I bought a camisole and it came with a form and place for drains. I had to go to a funeral the first week after surgery and this enabled me to go and feel comfortable. I now have the real prosthesis and don’t notice it when it is on, with a proper mastectomy bra. I too am very uneven. It really helps if you look normal!

Dx 3/25/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/6/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 6, 2019 12:22PM TammyKh wrote:

To be honest, I'm not comfortable to be flat/half flat although I have very small boobs (almost flat). Before breast cancer and mastectomy, I wore double push-up/underwire bras. After a single mastectomy, I had uneven boobs leading to my decision that I'm going to go through implant reconstructed surgery. I'm not a big fan of big boobs but being flat or half flat is not really comfortable though. It makes me not confident to wear deep V-neck outfits. lol

Dx 10/24/2018, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/10/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 3/31/2019 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 7, 2019 06:50PM MexicoHeather wrote:

Yes, 1/2 flat pretty much kills the v-neck. You tried it out. I was also small chested. I had breast reduction on the left two years after the mastectomy. Everyone can make their own choice.

Dios es Amor. Dx 10/1/2016, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/5/2016 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 5/10/2017 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 10/10/2017 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery 12/6/2018 Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 6, 2019 03:34PM virginiab wrote:

In the early months after my one-sided mastectomy, I was a big fan of hawaiian shirts with bold prints. They were comfortable and they distracted the eye from the assymetry. Underneath I wore sports bras which minimized the size of the bio-boob. I started out with just a small pile of surgical dressings on the other side to provide the pressure that I wanted on my chest at that time (although the AB Pad dressings sometimes crept out of the bra). Then I briefly wore a little pillow form which I could pin in place, but it didn't look good. I tried the microbead form and found it was pretty good in the sports bras as it maintained its volume while providing a squishy shape similar to the other breast. Later, I found the microbead form useful in pocketed bras when I wanted something really light.

I have liked the knitted knockers, especially since I started putting stones in them. I tried flat river rock from the garden, but weight I needed was too large to get into the opening on the back of the form and I was afreaid of unraveling the while thing. Then I remembered that I had a little collection of semiprecious stones so I put all of the rounded ones in together, and that has worked well for me. Now (about 16 months past my surgery), I most often wear my silicone form when I am going out, although the knitted knocker just seems right some days.

On days when I am home doing stuff in the house or garden, I often wear Fruit of the Loom pullover cotton bras with spaghetti straps. They compress the natural breast and are comfortable enough to wear 8 to 12 hours for me. If I go our for a quick errand, I'll trade my t-shirt for one of those Hawaiian shirts I collected in anticipation of the mastectomy.

Virginia Surgery 6/13/2012 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/19/2012 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 10/25/2012 Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/21/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 1/16/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/1/2015 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Aug 12, 2019 01:25PM Cydney wrote:

This is long after your original post. I am half flat. I was first diagnosed in 2007 and then had a re-occurence in 2009 that resulted in a mastectomy on the left. My right breast still stands. I was offered reconstruction, but because I had radiation the first time around, I was told that my chest might be weak and subject to collapse.

I was so very tired of surgery and medical intervention, I just decided to go half-flat. I wear a foob. I have a really nice one that is weighted and matches my skin color the size of my lone girl, but I find wearing it makes my lymphoma act up. I have recently found some great light-weight forms on the Athleta website. No, they aren't custom fitted, but they only cost $10 for two. They give me a little bit of even bump out, enough to make me feel passible in clothing.

Being a halfie isn't my first choice - that would be to have my original girlie back. But I'd rather have my life than my breast. The people in my life don't seem to notice much. It's been 10 years now. I wouldn't change my decision. I'm in my 60's, I have osteopenia from the radiation. I am glad not to have to deal with side-effects from reconstruction.

Live Boldly, Laugh Often
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Aug 12, 2019 02:34PM Beesy_The_Other_One wrote:

Cydney, I assume these are the forms you are describing? Athleta breast forms

The reviews are great--one lady described leaving them in the bras while washing and drying! They are so inexpensive and I've been looking for something more lightweight that's (hopefully) a little cooler. Thank you for sharing this, Cydney!

1997: Phyllodes, R breast. 2018: IDC, L breast. TCHP, BMX, Radiation, Nerlynx. Dx 8/20/2018, IDC, Left, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC)
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Oct 26, 2019 06:16AM Cydney wrote:

Those are the ones. Glad they work for you too.

Live Boldly, Laugh Often
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Oct 28, 2019 08:06AM Miriandra wrote:

Hi Ladies!

I know I may be in the minority here (and I'm ok with that), but I've had minimal issues since going half-flat. I have a prescription for a foob, but have never bothered to get one. I've got a set of knitteds on hand just in case, but they're still in their bag. Most of my T-shirts don't look right anymore, so my wardrobe has gotten a bit of an overhaul. I've found a bunch of tops with cowl necklines and chest detailing that help camouflage my asymmetry without looking like I'm hiding it. As long as my presentation seems intentional and put together, I look great.

I was worried at first that my embracing my UMx might make others uncomfortable, but I've found it to be the opposite. They feel more comfortable in the face of my comfort.

Some women need to look like they did before to feel normal, and they are perfectly correct in their choices for themselves. But I hope more clothing and fashion options will continue to be available for those of us who need to make a new normal - who want to allow our bodies to acknowledge what we've come through. If anyone out here has been secretly/not-so-secretly wanting to ditch their foob, you might try it. Good luck!

Dx 5/31/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, 0/1 nodes, ER+ Surgery 8/14/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 7, 2019 02:15PM - edited Nov 7, 2019 02:18PM by Chenye_Tripp

I had a mastectomy in April followed up with immediate reconstruction, a pediculed tram flap. That failed. My tissue was removed in August and was replaced with a prepectoral tissue expander. That also failed. Two days ago I had my seventh surgery since my mastectomy to remove the expander. I'm not quite sure what I'm feeling right now but reading all the posts in this topic has been helpful. Thank you.

Dx 1/23/2019, ILC/IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Nov 7, 2019 02:25PM Aussie-Cat wrote:

Chenye, I'm sorry you've had to have so much surgery without good results!! It's okay to be feeling whatever you're feeling and it's understandable that it's sometimes hard to pinpoint what we're feeling. Please be kind to yourself.

Diagnosed with nerve pain (post mastectomy pain syndrome) July 2018 Surgery 6/18/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right
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Nov 7, 2019 04:36PM bennybear wrote:

yikes.chenye! I am so sorry that you have gone through so much. I wasn’t able to do immediate reconstruction and can’t do an implant because of radiation, So I have opted for over a year to be this way. Most days I don’t think about it. I bought a good prosthesis and it enables me to look normal. I just can’t face anymore surgery or being a patient at this time. Hopefully you will adjust well.

Dx 3/25/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/6/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 7, 2019 07:39PM Miriandra wrote:

All the best to you Chenye! I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to have done so much with so little of what you wanted to happen. I hope you can find some closure, and I'm glad our experiences are helping. No matter what your body looks like, you're amazing.

Dx 5/31/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, 0/1 nodes, ER+ Surgery 8/14/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 8, 2019 09:41PM Chenye_Tripp wrote:

Aussie-Cat, bennybear and Miriandra, thank you for your kind and inspirational words. It all helps.

Dx 1/23/2019, ILC/IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Nov 13, 2019 04:12PM JO-5 wrote:

I won't go into my whole history. You can get a good idea if you read my sig. at the bottom.

I am half flat. A bra hurts if I wear one for a whole day ... around my ribs, scar, loaf under my arm from lat flap. I did not have reconstruction but the muscle lump from my back is there.

I have several different bras and prosthesis.

Sometimes I go without a bra at home...then just a while and that breast hurts really bad.

Wear a bra hurt on right side and ribs.....don't wear a bra and hurt on left side.

BTW...I have a new BS....because mine retired. The first time she saw me she asked, "Is there a reason you did not have a reduction on that left side?" She says not doing so just causes a lot of pain in the back and shoulders and pulls everything out of line.

At the time we were just concerned with saving my life and I have so much trouble with any surgery that the least we can do the better.

It is what it is and I'm not having more surgery to even me out.

Just wonder how many have pain in their remaining breast when not wearing a bra?

Thanks

JO-5

Org dx 04 lumpectomy rads arimidex stage 1 grade 3 no nodes er+pr+her- 2014 rads induced angiosarcoma, wide excision 2015 angio recurrence, rt mast. Lat flap, 1/3 flap went necrotic, skin graft leg to chest Seeing dr every 3 to 6 months.
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Nov 14, 2019 08:55PM Miriandra wrote:

JO-5, my surgeon did have the pre-thought to warn me that some women, more often bustier women, may have back or shoulder pain from the weight of the remaining breast. As a borderline B/C cup, she didn't think that would be a problem for me, but said I should pay attention to how my body adjusts to the single boob. She said that if I chose to have the other side removed for any reason (pain, aesthetics, etc.) insurance is obligated to cover any surgery "to restore symmetry". So it's nice that options are still on the table.

Dx 5/31/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, 0/1 nodes, ER+ Surgery 8/14/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 15, 2019 03:51PM - edited Nov 15, 2019 03:51PM by JO-5

This Post was deleted by JO-5.
Org dx 04 lumpectomy rads arimidex stage 1 grade 3 no nodes er+pr+her- 2014 rads induced angiosarcoma, wide excision 2015 angio recurrence, rt mast. Lat flap, 1/3 flap went necrotic, skin graft leg to chest Seeing dr every 3 to 6 months.
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Nov 15, 2019 03:51PM JO-5 wrote:

Miraindra,

I am a C cup. I could have reduction surgery but I won't.

I've never had any surgery that I did not have unusual problems with. The pain and problems I have with being half flat are not what might happen with more surgery.

I was just wondering if others of you half flatters have pain in the remaining breast, back and shoulder.

JO-5

Org dx 04 lumpectomy rads arimidex stage 1 grade 3 no nodes er+pr+her- 2014 rads induced angiosarcoma, wide excision 2015 angio recurrence, rt mast. Lat flap, 1/3 flap went necrotic, skin graft leg to chest Seeing dr every 3 to 6 months.
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Nov 16, 2019 09:32AM bennybear wrote:

I too am single breasted, and am a D so it is quite a difference. I wear a bra with a prosthesis that balances out the weight. I have read that you can get back pain because of the difference in weight. Don’t know if that is your cause but something to experiment with. I too can’t face more surgery, with many possible serious complications.

Dx 3/25/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/6/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 16, 2019 02:11PM JO-5 wrote:

I do have a prosthesis that balances the weight. My problem with that right side hurting is the ribs and loaf under my arm from the lat flap. Left breast hurts when I DON'T wear the bra and prosthesis.

Danged if I do danged if I don't!

JO-5

Org dx 04 lumpectomy rads arimidex stage 1 grade 3 no nodes er+pr+her- 2014 rads induced angiosarcoma, wide excision 2015 angio recurrence, rt mast. Lat flap, 1/3 flap went necrotic, skin graft leg to chest Seeing dr every 3 to 6 months.
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Nov 16, 2019 02:21PM Miriandra wrote:

Totally legit, JO-5. The back and shoulder pain could be muscle tension trying to keep the torso balanced. Another possibility is scar tissue from the surgery site pulling on the ribs and causing pain in the facet joints where the ribs meet the spine or the sternum. That's what I've been working through recently - bound up ribs. I have fallen in love with my yoga wheel for helping keep my spine loose and stretched out. It's helped a LOT with rib pain.

If you can find a good massage therapist, they can hopefully help ease your muscle tissues to feel more comfortable. If the pain is in the remaining breast itself, that could be something else entirely. My first thought is lymph stagnation which can cause discomfort, and potentially can be reduced with lymph self-care techniques. However, it's certainly worth asking your docs about if it's intrusive. You deserve to live a life as pain-free as possible.

(Disclaimer: I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist, but not a doctor. Any advice or suggestions are not to be taken as a diagnosis, nor are they intended to replace medical assessment and care from a licensed doctor.)

Dx 5/31/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, 0/1 nodes, ER+ Surgery 8/14/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 16, 2019 02:58PM AnnC2019 wrote:

I have been half flat with a tissue expander so although I am not completely flat, I haven’t adjusted. Today I was lopsided because I still haven’t picked up a fitted prosthesis and the one I got from Amazon is awful. I felt very self conscious about it today. Also, the tissue expander is so hard and my boob has a weird shape and I still have pain especially when sleeping. Can’t wait to be done with radiation so I can start the six month countdown until reconstruction

Dx 6/19/2019, ILC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Hormonal Therapy 8/15/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 8/28/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement
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21 hours ago alto wrote:

JO-5, have you tried a camisole that accommodates a prosthetic? I’ve found the Amoena Valetta less restrictive than a bra, but with good support/lift for the remaining breast.

I do have some weird back and rib/breast discomfort on my remaining side. Have been thinking about asking for PT to see if that helps

Diagnosed at 42. Had symptoms of Paget's for years prior to positive biopsy. No Tamox because low% ER. Dx 11/2/2018, Paget's, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Surgery 11/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Right Dx 11/29/2018, DCIS/Paget's, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/19/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 12/21/2018, DCIS, Right, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 1/16/2019 Mastectomy: Right
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11 hours ago JO-5 wrote:

alto,

I looked at the Amoena Valetta on the internet. Did you order yours or is there a store where it can be purchased.

I am concerned that the elastic might be too tight and is the opening for the prosthesis big enough to insert a large one?

I really need to be able to try it on and the place where I buy my mastectomy bras don't have it.

Thanks

JO-5

Org dx 04 lumpectomy rads arimidex stage 1 grade 3 no nodes er+pr+her- 2014 rads induced angiosarcoma, wide excision 2015 angio recurrence, rt mast. Lat flap, 1/3 flap went necrotic, skin graft leg to chest Seeing dr every 3 to 6 months.
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6 hours ago bennybear wrote:

yes it is big enough. If you order on Amazon, you can return it if it doesn’t fit. I went a size up and would recommend the dark colours.

Dx 3/25/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/6/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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