Mastectomy and rebuild in just over two weeks, and getting scared!

Hi everyone, I was just wondering if anyone could tell me my upcoming operation is not going to be too terrible! I am so scared now. I had a lumpectomy in April, but now need a mastectomy. Been fine for weeks, but today feel incredibly ratty and jittery. I am having a single (left side) mastectomy, and rebuild from my back on 4th September. Has anyone been through this in one go please? The operation is about 6 hours long. Would love to hear from anyone with a similar experience. Hope you are all feeling ok today. xx

20 Replies

  • Hi there

    I had a failed lumpectomy and two cavity chest shaves which kept uncovering more cancer and pre-cancer, had chemotheraphy and then had mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I couldn't bear the thought of having another part of my body cut open, so had a permanent implant. I left hospital the next day with two drains, which were checked everyday by the district nurses until there was less than 30ml a day pooling in there.

    It took a while for everything to settle, but am very happy with the result, i asked for the nipple to be removed to as was concerned the cancer may lurk around in there and again am happy with it.

    I know this isn't the same as your operation but some of the elements are - I also had no cancer left in the breast when they did the pathology, but I am still glad I had it done.

    Good luck with the op.

    Jo x

  • What you've been through sounds dreadful, I'm so sorry. How long did you have the drains for? I am having my nipple removed too, as some of the cancer was directly behind it. I've had radiotherapy for 3 weeks too.

    Thank you. xx

  • I had mastectomy, partial node clearance and re-build all at the same time. It was no problem (I found) at all. It was just getting used to all the nerve ending trying to knit and physio afterwards. Don't worry about the mastectomy, think of it this way, when your boobs gone, so has the cancer (hopefully) and that's the way I looked at it. And so couldn't wait to go into hospital. Take care to do everything the physios tell you to do, I got all my movement back within a few weeks as I did as I was told. I'm now just over two months after the operation and I am back to normal, all except under my arm, which is numb and probably always will be. I am however going to speak to the surgeon about having a reconstruction made of tummy fat, as I don't like this feeling of "fake", meaning the implant, as would prefer to be more natural. After your op, it takes about 6-7 weeks to get over the op as it's a major op, and took such a lot out of me. I wish you luck, don't worry you will feel like a woman again in no time at all in the scheme of things.

  • Hi Cash-V. I am having a simultaneous mastectomy and reconstruction with muscle taken from my back. It has a 6-12 week recovery. That is what I am worried about the most, as I have two young children. Of course, the cancer will be gone which is good, but I was feeling very scared the day before yesterday about having a 6 hour operation. Also, my oncologist said it is almost "unchartered territory" doing both right after radiotherapy. I wanted to find someone who had been through the same thing.

  • Hi i had exactly this done several years ago. I was in hospital for around a week i was in hogh dependency for a day they need to monitor you regularly. I was up and about doing very short weeks after about 3 days. After the op you will be given gentle exercises to get your movement back this takes a while but just keep doing the exercises i have full movement now. I needed regular chwck ups afterwards and fluid draining from my back.

    Your new breast will look angry aftetwards but it settles down

    Good luck it is a big op with a long recovery time but i never regret having it

  • Thank you so much Artemis-angel. I have been keeping fine up until now, but just can't stop crying today. I am glad you have recovered well. I know I am doing the right thing.

  • I know its a big op i was also very worried but it wasnt as bad as i thought

  • Thank you - that really helps.

  • Don't rush the healing prosesss some take longer than others give your self at least a year xx

  • I had a mastectomy on Aug. 14th. This was my 2nd. The other was 6 years ago. I had no reconstruction. I will send prayers your way for calmness and peace. Mine went well and I hope yours does also. Just minor pain in recovery. I ate 3 meals the next day so I guess I was feeling pretty good! I refused narcotics and took 2 Tylenol every six hours. I think this helps your body to get back to normal sooner. Now I am recuperating with a friend and her family. I am single so they are a huge blessing. Feeling just sore and tired. I pray you will be fine. Just distract yourself when you feel nervous by doing any of your favorite things. That will help you reduce your stress. You can do it! The body heals in amazing ways and I pray that for you!God bless

  • Thank you blessed mother. I wish you well, and hope you have a speedy recovery.

  • I had the same as you had. I also had mine from my back. I didnt need to go to high dependancy. I had it done on the friday and home on the monday with 2 drains. The one drain was in for a few days and the other one just over a week. They are a inconvience and when they stopped draining i had to go back to the ward to get the bottel changed. I had mine march 2016 an i am pleased with the result. I still get pains and strange feelings. It does hurt sometimes but i do a manual job. They did tell me it can take 2 years to hesl fully. I was advised to take arnica tablets 2 weeks before my op and 2 weeks after to help with the healing and bruising. It worked. Good luck with your procedure xx

  • Oh thank you brianna29, that is good to hear. Were you on tamoxifen, as sometimes taking supplements can effect the tamoxifen? That's a really good tip, though. Thank you for your reply. I am glad you are mostly ok now. xx

  • I had the same procedure as you but on the right side. Six hours in theatre is a major operation and takes some recovery but our amazing bodies handle it just fine. I was home within a few days and by then my pain relief was paracetamol. I didn't need anything more. You will have two drains fitted (which are a hindrance it has to be said), but you will get used to them and they are doing out. Be sure to keep up with the exercises everyday and you will get your arm mobility back. You will also have a weird party trick as a touch to the front of your new breast you will feel in your back! Good luck, be strong but it is ok to be scared too. It will be over before too long. Xx

  • I was corrected by my plastics surgeon - it will be 4 hours apparently. Oh, it's good to know the pain was not too bad. Yes, I am not looking forward to thinking my breast is on my back when it is touched! Does that sort itself out after a while? Thank you and wishing you well xx

  • It's only the touch sensation you will feel in your back via the nerves. Not sure it completely goes but it lessons as you get used to it. Really not a problem- I think it is rather funny. X

  • Hi there,

    I had exactly the same op about a year ago. I was in hospital for about a week, the staff were fantastic. I was on a high dependency ward at first and was constantly monitored. I had access to morphine to self administer through the drip for a day or so. I had a catheter for a couple of days, but quickly removed to get you up and about.

    They will get you up and walking as quickly as possible and give you exercises to move your arm and upper body. I had 3 drainage tubes, they were awkward, but not painful, removal was not painful. In fact I did not have post op pain as the area was numb rather than painful. I had some fluid build up on my back and this was drained at one of my check ups.

    I have regular check ups with my plastic surgeon - I had a reduction of the healthy breast. I have had nipple reconstruction and my breasts look fantastic. I had a small implant under the reconstruction and my breast is soft and warm, it looks and feels totally natural. I have my first mammogram of healthy breast next week.

    It is a big operation and you will need time to recover and build your strength up. I wish you luck 😊

  • Thank you Debra23. You have made me feel quite a lot better about it. My operation has been delayed now until 18th September, as my surgeon has had a bereavement. So at least my eldest can start senior school on Tuesday now with me here, and I will see him come home! Best of luck for the mammogram xx

  • I had a double mastectomy in Jan 2015. I viewed it from the angle of "Well they are killing me so they have to go!" I chose not to go for reconstruction. The mastectomy itself was not anywhere as bad as I thought it would be. I did the exercises advised from the moment I came around from the anaesthetic, so have full arm movement on both sides. It is so important that you do the exercises as you can lose movement. I can't tell you about reconstruction but wish you well for your surgery and subsequent road to recovery. It is totally natural to be ratty and Jittery, you are undergoing treatment for a potentially life threatening illness. I get like that a good month before my three monthly oncology reviews. I don't think it is something that ever leaves you, it gets easier to handle emotionally but is still there bugging you at the back of your mind. That 'mental' aggravation and worry is bound to have a knock on effect. Try to find activities that relax you, meditation, reading, art and craft activities etc. They will give you something else to think of albeit for a short time. That short time gives you the chance to 'reboot' your mental and emotional system enabling you to cope that little bit more. Sending positive vibes and big hugs. Lainey xxxx💐💐

  • Thank you so much Lainey, that's very encouraging. I have two young children to distract me. I was in a choir, but have had a break since I've been had my lumpectomy and been having radiotherapy, but will go back soon. We have a young cockapoo who is a great distraction! I wish you well. xxx

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