Bilateral Mastectomy

Hi. I'm Sue and new on here. I had a bilateral mastectomy 5 weeks ago following 6 cycles of chemotherapy with 2 targeted therapies which I am still receiving. I am 56, live alone and have no close family. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast and cancer in the lymph nodes under my arm, under my clavicle and in my neck at the beginning of January 2015. Much to my surprise I have managed not only to look after myself but also to maintain a mostly very positive attitude throughout it all. The chemotherapy was grim and I felt that at sometime or another I got most of the side effects possible! I lost most of my hair, I felt sick most of the time, my finger nails lifted, I had aches and pains and of course at times fatigue. My recent surgery and on going recovery is no-where near as bad! I wanted to have both breasts removed for a number of reasons but the hospital was, to say the least, not keen to remove my healthy right breast. I wrote a letter explaining all the reasons for my decision and I also obtained a supporting letter from a medically qualified friend who has known me for 30 years. Because of the way I argued my case, setting out my reasons very clearly and because I had over 5 months to think about it, the hospital eventually agreed. Post surgery I am very pleased with the result. Oh, and I am not having reconstruction either! Obviously not everyone would want to do this but for all sorts of reasons, including reducing the risk of breast cancer in the other breast and also because I am a horse rider so it is important to be 'evenly balanced', it was right for me. I am being treated at Bournemouth Hospital and they have been wonderful. I have absolutely no complaints at all. I will continue to have the two targeted treatments and have three weeks daily radiotherapy at Poole Hospital to come. The prognosis for the future for me is thankfully very good and that has made all the pain and misery worthwhile. I have a horse, who I managed to look after myself most of the time I was having chemo but at times I did have to have some help from a very dear friend. My horse is currently away with another friend because I realised that poo-picking and pushing wheelbarrows, carting hay bales etc., weren't going to be a good mix with surgery, but he will come home in about another couple of weeks. I can't wait to be riding again! I hope this is a more positive post which will hopefully encourage all of you who are at the worst point in your treatment. Someone said to me 'chemotherapy is your friend'. At the time I wasn't convinced! She is right though! It (hopefully) saves your life! Sorry for the long post!

8 Replies

  • Hi Sue. I had a bilateral mastectomy in Jan. Like you I am not going for reconstruction either. I was first diagnosed last October. At first I had TC chemo then surgery followed by AC chemo, CMF chemo then 25 sessions of radiotherapy. I too went armed with letter, support from GP, a file of statistics on triple negative BC and a very determined attitude and positive outlook.... I won too :) I am three weeks aftwr completing chemo and Radiotherapy. I am 49 - 50 in October and am well on the way to a healty recovery. I will be seeing my oncologist in Sept and will be reviewed every tjree months for the next two years, every six months for the following three years then once a year. I am happy with my choice and feel as though I am starting a new life. I wish you well and am delighted to have come across another person like me. We are quite few and far between. Cheers from Lainey in Ireland xx

  • Hi SueandEmber and Lainey66. I am another who chose bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. My mastectomy surgery was done in February, and there was revision surgery to tidy-up my chest last month. I am very happy and my life much improved with my flat-chestedness.

    I am on Letrozole for (I hope) a ten-year course. I have lost about half my hair in the last month. I do not know whether that is from the Letrozole or from having had four major surgeries this year, but either way, it is a non-problem! I do not need hair any more than I need breasts.

    So glad life has got so good again for you, Friends. Your participating here will be of great help and encouragement to those newly diagnosed and those going through the most grueling of treatment plans.

  • Hi Sue. What a positive post yours has been and you will find radiotherapy a walk in the park compared to chemotherapy but you may find fatigue (not tiredness) kicks in weeks afterwards and that can be a bit disconcerting so be prepared. It's amazing how much energy and positivity you can find when the proverbial hits the fan!

    The lets get on with it attitude certainly helps. I've had several setbacks following mastectomy in February with significant Seroma (1000 mls a week) and four months later got an infection following a steroid injection into the cavity, which burst open on holiday. I had to have this opened up further and let it drain freely for a month in the hope it would start to heal but it didn't so I've just had more surgery for debridement and insertion of a corrugated drain. This stays in situ for about a month and has a very non sexy stoma bag over it to collect fluid. It could always be worse at least I'm alive with a good prognosis.

    Once healed I need an oophorectomy then reconstruction early next year.

    It's a tough ride no matter what your outlook but I think that a positive and fighting attitude certainly helps but more importantly a sense of humour and some solid friends.

    Good luck for the remainder of your treatment. X

  • How great to wake up this morning and read these wonderfully positive posts! Thank you ladies!

  • I had surgery September 2014 chemo and radiotherapy for having right hand side breast cancer aged 64 being left in a lot of pain but lead a busy life again and try and manage the main without drugs but always positive why me or poor me doesn't work I find us women as strong characters and always move on upwards and onwards

  • Wishing you many years of happiness on your horse!

  • Hello, lovely to have you as part of our

  • Thank you. I am so pleased that people seem to have found my post encouraging. That was what I hoped. I have never been ill before. The one night I had to spend in Poole Hospital as a result of sepsis at the beginning of my chemotherapy treatment, was the first time I had ever had to stay overnight in hospital. In fact I could count on one hand the number of times I had been to hospital at all on my own account before I was diagnosed with cancer. Following my surgery, I also only spent one night in hospital as I was keen to get home a.s.a.p. and wasn't at all worried about managing my operation sites or drains! I was really annoyed that my record of 56 years without unduly bothering the NHS had been spoiled!! I am approaching radiotherapy with the same positive attitude - it will be fine!! I am looking forward to getting back to work again - hopefully sometime in September. I have a wonderfully interesting job, working for the Court of Verderers of the New Forest. As their Clerk, I do all the administration. We regulate commoning in the New Forest. Commoning is the grazing of the ponies, cattle, donkeys, pigs and sheep in the Forest.

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