Topic: Latissimus Dorsi Flap Surgery and Horse Back Riding

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Apr 30, 2010 06:24PM

Posted on: Apr 30, 2010 06:24PM

cowgal wrote:

I had a mastecomy on March 31 and after radiation plan to do latissimus dorsi flap surgery.  My plastic surgeon ruled out the tram flap surgery because of my active lifestyle (lifting feed sacks, riding, etc.).  He felt the latissimus dorsi flap surgery would be better suited for me (I don't want to do the regular implant surgery) and that it would not make it any harder for me to ride.  I was reading "The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan" and it states some of the challenges with this kind of surgery and it listed "climbing a ladder".  I am not sure but think that this would involve the same muscles as riding a horse.  I just wondered if any horse riders out there have done the latissimus dorsi flap surgery and if so if they have any problems getting mounted because of this or any other problems for that matter?  Thanks!

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May 12, 2010 02:44AM CalypsoGirl wrote:

Hi Cowgirls! 

Back in 2002 I had a mx with free tram flap on my left side and I've been riding ever since.  I was extremely please with the result (nice & soft, just your own body tissue).  No abdominal weakness either!  Then, in May of 2008 I found a lump in my right breast (during those 5 years, they told me "don't worry your pretty little head!")...  So there I was back to square one... I had a mx June 2008, 6 months of chemo, 5 weeks radiation, got my ovaries pulled last November, and finally on April 1st I had the lat flap with TE.  I rode my gelding a little on Mother's Day (even though I am still sore).  I'll admit that it is all pretty rough, however right now filling the expander every 10 days is extremely painful (my fun meter is pegged).  On the other hand, with the tram flap the first 4 weeks were tough, but recovery was a steady improvement.

My PS did not recommend the GAP flap because it may expose the sciatic nerve (your buttocks is critical when riding!).

 If I could go back in time to Oct. 2002, I would have pushed to have both breast removed at the same time... Better symmetry... They didn't even automatically do genetic testing back then!  I was 38... Water under the bridge...

I use Clinton Anderson's method with my two horses  Laughing  It's great to see them using the thinking side of their brain!!  My horses are my best therapy!

Hope this info helps!  Take care & let us know how you are doing!

Kathy - my very first post!

Dx 5/18/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 10, 2010 02:13PM Diane509 wrote:

I went to see my horse yesterday after 1 month... poor baby.  I gave him his de-wormer and his 5 way but it nearly killed me trying to put his halter on...... he is only 14.2 hands too....(uncooperative in dropping the head... payback for not coming around!)  He's in a small run... I know he needs some exercise but I just can't do it yet.... maybe next week I can get him into a round pen.  Even brushing hurts... darn it.

Dx 2/17/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Jun 13, 2010 05:25PM NotAgain2015 wrote:

Hi Mel, Kathy and Diane,

Its great to hear from other riders.  I'm getting ready to start radiation this week (gulp).  Had contemplated double mastectomy.  Hope I won't be kicking myself on down the road.   Calypso, sorry you are going through round 2.   Diane, hope you are getting stronger every day.  Let's keep in touch.

Dx 4/23/2010, DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+, HER2- Dx 2/17/2011, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/30/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/16/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Aug 24, 2010 12:57AM Diane509 wrote:

Hi ladies... I am still not riding.... going through PT to regain range of motion.  Still waiting for last fill and exchange in 3 months... and the horse if for sale...

Dx 2/17/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Aug 24, 2010 03:48PM NotAgain2015 wrote:

Hi Diane,

Sorry to hear you have your horse up for sale.  I know that's hard.  I don't know who I am without a horse, so that would be devastating to me.  I hope you are doing ok.

Sounds like you are working to get your range of motion back.  Three months will fly by and hopefully you'll be back to the new normal by then.

I finished radiation treatments two weeks ago and I am finally starting to feel normal again.  Next contemplating tamoxifen.  That's the upside of what you have chosen, you don't have to take it!  I'm envious!

Hang in there...

Dx 4/23/2010, DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+, HER2- Dx 2/17/2011, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/30/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/16/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Sep 25, 2010 01:20AM Diane509 wrote:

Hi Kick...

I have not been regularly on the boards lately, thanks for the condolences about the horse.  I went to see him today and he acted really happy to see me.  I put him in the round pen and he didn't even roll or kick up his heels or toss his head like he normally does.  I wonder if someone has been riding him.  I told the guy at the barn that I was interested in selling him, but after today... I got pretty sad at the thought.  I probably could ride again if I got my confidence back and started riding a few times a week.  Grooming him today was good for my muscles actually.  Im still afraid to hoist up something heavy like a saddle or if he decides to yank his head and tug ... I cringe at the thought of getting pulled apart!Charely Horse

Dx 2/17/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Sep 26, 2010 02:49PM NotAgain2015 wrote:

Hi Diane,

What a nice looking horse.  He looks just like Black Beauty :).  I'm glad you went out to see him.  If you are like me, there's just something about looking at your horse - what it does for your heart and soul.  Even if it is just being around the wonderful smells of the tack room, your horse and barn in general.  There was an article in a horse magazine issue recently.  I'm going to see if I can find it.  It was inspirational about another BC survivor.  I'll post it here if I can find the link.

Any chance to find a person who could half board him with you and ride him?  Someone you trust...   Then you'd know he has the edge off.  Can you take lessons or have someone there spotting you so to speak?  I know exactly what you mean about getting your confidence back - my horse is young and I'm now over 50 and not as brave as I used to be.  If I can figure out how to post a picture I'll share one of my pony too.

Dx 4/23/2010, DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+, HER2- Dx 2/17/2011, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/30/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/16/2015 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Oct 23, 2010 11:11AM Diane509 wrote:

Rode my horse again yesterday ...  it was fun but I am even more nervous on him than i was before my surgery.   We have to relearn our communication.  He is well broke but takes advantage of my lack of experience when we ride.  

Dx 2/17/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Apr 2, 2011 05:43PM - edited Apr 2, 2011 06:47PM by virg


I am not sure if this thread is still active, but just in case... I chose lat flap reconstruction and though I don't know the roads not taken, from where i am now, it seems I made a mistake.  It was a comfort, I believe, to wake up from the mastectomy and look down and not be minus a breast, only minus a nipple, but there have been side effects.  The side effects have not been life threatening.  The complications / side effects have been how it feels, the discomfort.  What concerns me is that if others have had the experience I have had and everyone seems to agree that exercise can save the life of people with a BC diagnosis, we are going to lose people.  Exercise aggravates my breast, arm, armpit and back.  There is pain, discomfort and fluid build-up after Yoga and any aerobic exercise.  It is not debilitating but can be very uncomfortable.  I do not have "lymphedema" if lymphedema is only defined as a condition that will always require a sleeve and the care of a lymphedema specialist.  I know that fluid builds up and I know that with self-care I can affect the discomfort.   I would be interested in hearing from others how their arm and the area affected by the surgery feels and what helps.  My surgeon said, when I asked about swimming, "...you won't be competing in the Olympics."  In hindsight, I wish I had hung in there for a better conversation and a more sensitive answer.  My swimming has been affected.  I should say, though, that I was able to ride just fine for a week last year.  I rode hard for a week and I hadn't ridden in many years – pure joy!    I wanted to add, this last time when a failed implant was replaced, the surgeon used staples.  I can feel em and they are uncomfortable....has anyone else had experience with staples. The surgery was at the end of the year, so maybe this will pass.  Also, does anyone have any thoughts about the NYT articles on implants and cancer?  My surgeon said there are only 2 companies that make implants and only one company is making the implants that are the problem.  As I said, given the choice, knowing what I know now, I would choose a flat chest and no foreign bodies in my body.  But years from now and with that perspective...could feel different again. 

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