Mastectomy ????

QQN4answers
QQN4answers Member Posts: 16
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I need some information from women who have had a single mastectomy. I want to know what problems do you live with everyday? I hear that there can be swelling in the arm from the removal of nodes. What about problems with bras, clothes etc. Can you wear sleeveless blouses? HOW and WHAT do you do to live with these problems? I need any and all information that you can give me as I have to make my final decision about whether to have a mastectomy this weekend. For those of you who had a choice do any of you regret having a mastectomy vs lumpectomy? Thanks in advance. Liz

Comments

  • DJC
    DJC Member Posts: 52
    Liz-I had a skin sparing mastectomy and immediate reconstruction performed on my right breast June 11th. During the 6 week recovery process, I wore the surgical bra that I was sheathed in imediately following surgery and stretchy sports bras. I now wear mastectomy bras purchased from a close at-hand dealer in my area. Because my surgeons were very good about "hiding" my surgical incisions for both the mastectomy and node dissection, I am able to wear sleeveless, strapless and low cut fashions.

    I do have some swelling under my right arm on occasion, but it is not terribly noticeable and it does not cause me any pain (nerve endings were severed in this area) - it's just rather odd feeling. The swelling usually goes down with rest or icing. My reconstruction will be completed this coming Spring with a slight reduction to my left side to bring it in line with my right.

    I chose a mastectomy (versus lumpectomy) with reconstruction in mind and I am glad I did - my plastic surgeon has done a remarkable job with me. No complications and I look and feel very natural on the impacted side. Plus, I have less to be concerned about regarding recurrance in my right breast because most of the tissue was removed leaving only a shell of skin to encase the expander and tissue/muscle transferred from my back.

    I hope this helps. I wish you all the luck with your surgery(s), treatments and followups. If I can be of any additional assistance or if you need someone to commiserate with - I can be reached at [email protected]. My best to you, Donna
  • bestill
    bestill Member Posts: 5
    First, sending a hug and a smile. The decisions you are facing get crazy but know that many of us are here...smiling and sending good thoughts. I had a choice 10 years ago of lumpectomy or mastectomy. Chose the lumpectomy with axillary node dissection, had chemo and radiation and they were bearable...as far as clothes, I'm a little different sided so some clothes fit better than others but I've been able to find the right look for me. Sleeveless isn't a choice because of a bit of vanity looking at my 51 year old arms...but as my husband pointed out, I didn't wear sleeveless before my diagnosis! The way I get through and got through the day to day stuff was by learning mindfulness meditation..it taught me to focus on the present(as much as that was possible when my head was spinning with cancer thoughts). Eventually, my focus on the present did improve and now its been 10 YEARS !!! YAY. and life is a constantly unfolding wonder. Hope you find a local community of breast cancer survivors...its a great resource. I volunteer as the co-chair of the ACS Relay for Life...uplifting and quite a comfort...plus you get to meet a lot of folks who have walked where you are heading now. Again, good thoughts, a smile and a hug. Bev
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    Like Bev, I had lumpectomy. I also had the sentinel node dissection. Both scars are small.
    I healed well and haven't had any residual problems.

    My doctor advised lumpectomy but said that some women ask for a mastectomy, for varying reasons, with tumors similar to mine.

    I still wear sleeveless...even tank tops, etc..
    My axillary scar is almost undetectable and that the small scar on my breast may show in my bathing suit, doesn't bother me in the the least. No one has ever asked about it, if they saw it, and even if they did, I'm not obliged to explain. I feel comfortable and wear what makes me happy.

    Is your doctor recommending mastectomy? If so, he should explain his reasons to you. I've heard that some physician's still recommend mastectomies for any size tumor (typically it seems to be the older guys). If you're unsure, get a second opinion right away.

    Best of luck.

    Love, light and laughter,
    Ink
  • SweetSue
    SweetSue Member Posts: 217
    My onchologist wanted me to get the lumpectomy; I decided on a bilateral modified mastectomy because I had 19 years of breast problems, my mom died from breast cancer, and the mammogram only showed one cancer site, but the biopsy showed 2 and I was afraid of other undetected sites. After the operation, I found out that my other "healthy" breast had atypical cells present which could have turned cancerous at any time. I thought by having the bilateral that I wouldn't need chemo, but I was wrong...the cancer site was 3.5 centimeters(biopsy report) and additional .5 and chemo was strongly recommended, even though my nodes were negative. I wished my surgeon or onchologist would have told me that from the get go.
    I don't miss my breasts, except there are pockets of extra flesh that really bother me----on each side, underarms, and the area between where my breasts were. I'm getting all this removed next month.
    No one can tell you what to do......it's a personal decision. I must tell u that it's very difficult to see yourself , when you remove the bandages for the first time.
    Research has shown that the survival rate of women who chose lumpectomies over mastectomies are the same.
    So many decisions.....may God help you decide.
    Sue (age 55)
  • jake10
    jake10 Member Posts: 202
    Lots of hugs and good thoughts. This is difficult time for you, God Bless. I had a mastectomy with an abdominal flap reconstruction at the same time. I never was without a "breast" of sorts. My tumor was very small (0.6cm) but I was terrified of reaccourance and chose the mastectomy. Oncologist was very suprised. I had a sentinal node biopsey so only 5 nodes were taken. Lucky me they were all negative. The Flap reconstruction is a major, big surgery. I have had problems post op but I mostly blame them on my plastic surgeon. I know several woman who have had the procedure and done great. You get a tummy tuck with the procedure as well and they all thought this was a wonderful secondary gain.
    Like all the advice above, take your time to make your decision. Go to the library, talk to a plastic surgeon, look at pictures of all the procedures and reconstructions, ask to talk to someone who has had a surgery you may be interested in. I know you are scared, but you have a few weeks to decide. Good Luck! Come back often with questions, concerns, fears etc...... That's why we all come. Beth
  • cruf
    cruf Member Posts: 908
    jake10 said:

    Lots of hugs and good thoughts. This is difficult time for you, God Bless. I had a mastectomy with an abdominal flap reconstruction at the same time. I never was without a "breast" of sorts. My tumor was very small (0.6cm) but I was terrified of reaccourance and chose the mastectomy. Oncologist was very suprised. I had a sentinal node biopsey so only 5 nodes were taken. Lucky me they were all negative. The Flap reconstruction is a major, big surgery. I have had problems post op but I mostly blame them on my plastic surgeon. I know several woman who have had the procedure and done great. You get a tummy tuck with the procedure as well and they all thought this was a wonderful secondary gain.
    Like all the advice above, take your time to make your decision. Go to the library, talk to a plastic surgeon, look at pictures of all the procedures and reconstructions, ask to talk to someone who has had a surgery you may be interested in. I know you are scared, but you have a few weeks to decide. Good Luck! Come back often with questions, concerns, fears etc...... That's why we all come. Beth

    Hi! Good luck with whatever you choose! I had DCIS. I had a lumpectomy but the margins weren't clear so I had a choice of leaving the lumpectomy as is and hope the radiation got rid of any cells or have a mastectomy with immed. Tramflap reconstruction. I had no qualms about the mastectomy and reconstruction because I wanted to get rid of all the cells. I'm very happy with my decision. I never thought about a prophelactic mastectomy. My breasts are similar in size. I am able to wear just about everything however I do wear a padded bra. My reconstructed nipple has continued to flatten out so 1 side sticks out and the other is flat and that bothers me so I wear a padded bra and noone can tell. I am able to do just about the same things I did before except I can't do situps! My stomach was oh so flat until I had my gallbladder out in July and now I have a buldge and seem to be gaining some weight. I go to the gym or at least workout on the treadmill everynight and I play tennis for 1 1/2 hours every Mon. night! There is life after BC!I had my surgery 3 years ago this past 9/11. I am also on Tamoxifen for 3 years and haven't had any sideeffects other than hot flashes and night sweats which I still get! If I can answer any questions, feel free to write here or at [email protected]. HUGS!! Cathy
  • bunnie
    bunnie Member Posts: 233
    Hi i had a mastecomy on my left breast jan of this year.I have not done reconstrution yet but iam starting too think about it.right know i just wear a prothsis and a mastecmoy bra of course.I do have a little swelling under my arm and for that reason iam not real comfortable wearing sleevless shirts and i defintly dont wear low cut blouses anymore maybe after i do the reconstruction i will feel better about wearing sleelees things again and low cut shirts.My prayers and thoughts are with you as you go through this rough time good luck on all of your treatments.If you want to chat further you can email me at [email protected] luck with your desicion.
  • banker
    banker Member Posts: 317 Member
    Hi, ((hugs))) to you. I had both, mastectomy 1998 and lumpectomy 2002. In 1998 I was given the option of either, I chose mastectomy because the type of cancer was agressive. 12 nodes were removed, all negative. I had 6 month of chemo after that. Decided to have reconstruction (tram flap) the following year. All went well, I had no complications. My only regret is ,I should have done the reconstruction at the time of mastectomy. Last year at my routine mammo they found a 5mm spot in my healthy right breast, after lenghty discussion with my doctors, I chose lumpectomy, 34 radiation treatments and again 6 month of chemo. I am doing fine, have a few scars, but they do not bother me or my hubby. I do wear short sleeves and sleeveless tops, I make sure I try everything on in the store. Overall I live my life as normal as possible, I do know I have a different outlook on life and little things don't bother me anymore. Both my cancers were 2 different types and estrogen negative. I am 59 years old. Hope this helps, if you have any other questions feel free to ask. Good luck with your decission, God bless.. Emmi
  • sassysally
    sassysally Member Posts: 150
    I have had both procedures done. I had a lumpectomy in 1991, with 3 nodes involved. Then I had a mastectomy done on the otherside in 1998, then a mastectomy to the lumpectomy side in 2001. The side effects are numbess no matter what you do, with the lumph nodes. As far as the swelling goes, if you use you arms ie:stretch, lifting, this will help reduce that. Yes you can wear sleeveless shirts. Bras and clothes arent a real problem except for strapless and possibly swimming suits. I have a mastectomy bra that you put the prosthetics into. The bras have pockets. They also have bras with the prosthetics already sewn in . I prefer to go "flat" in a swimming suit. The prosthetics for swimming are to light and too "PERKY" kind of look stupid. I dont regret the lumpectomy first even though 7 yrs later I had to do a mastectomy. Hang in there. Good luck in making your decision. If you have any questions you can email me.
  • JAN22
    JAN22 Member Posts: 21
    January 10th I had a single mastectomy , also had the tramflap to reconstruct my breast. My scars on my belly are under my underwear, the breast has a circle about the size mouth of a cup were the mastectomy was done, they took my nipple and made me a new one,and my lymph nodes scar is about two inches long ,but under my arm. Your age is a big factor on recovery and having this surgery , but I know it saved my life, and I am here to help you through it if you need someone. I am not out of it a year yet , but I believe in it so much I joined the reach to recovery program to help someone else through it. (if you need me , my e-mail is [email protected] , Janet)
  • garfield1956
    garfield1956 Member Posts: 6
    I had a mastectomy in July 2003 and had no choice. I have no problems right now. As for bras, etc., all you need to get one is a letter of medical necessity and a prescription to get a prosthesis...this has to come from the doctor. Yes there can be swelling but as long as you do your exercises hopefully ther will be no problems. Hope this helps.
  • sandytrif525
    sandytrif525 Member Posts: 106
    Hello, I think I know where you are coming from. I had a mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction at the same time. I wear not a paded bra, but kind of like a molded bra. I can wear sleveless tops. I only worried when it was a little chilly and the one side "worked" and the other side had nothing to work, if you know what I mean. So the molded bras have a little bit of padding that hides the other nipple so to speak. hope this helps. sandy
  • gyn
    gyn Member Posts: 1
    JAN22 said:

    January 10th I had a single mastectomy , also had the tramflap to reconstruct my breast. My scars on my belly are under my underwear, the breast has a circle about the size mouth of a cup were the mastectomy was done, they took my nipple and made me a new one,and my lymph nodes scar is about two inches long ,but under my arm. Your age is a big factor on recovery and having this surgery , but I know it saved my life, and I am here to help you through it if you need someone. I am not out of it a year yet , but I believe in it so much I joined the reach to recovery program to help someone else through it. (if you need me , my e-mail is [email protected] , Janet)

    I am in the process of contemplating breast reconstruction. I am 44 years old and a breast cancer survivor for 11 years. I have really thought about tramflap. My plastic surgeon feels like I would be a good canidate. My only concern is complications such as hernia's or inability to lift or do activites that take stomach muscles. I am very active. How are you doing?
  • cruf
    cruf Member Posts: 908
    gyn said:

    I am in the process of contemplating breast reconstruction. I am 44 years old and a breast cancer survivor for 11 years. I have really thought about tramflap. My plastic surgeon feels like I would be a good canidate. My only concern is complications such as hernia's or inability to lift or do activites that take stomach muscles. I am very active. How are you doing?

    Hi! I had a Tram Flap 3 years ago and I am very active and have no problems other than inability to do situps! I play tennis for 1 1/2 hours 1 night a week and workout every night. I'm also a Physical Therapist in a nursing Home doing alot of lifting! If I can answer any questions feel free to write here or at [email protected]. Good luck! HUGS!! Cathy
  • joyadams
    joyadams Member Posts: 5
    gyn said:

    I am in the process of contemplating breast reconstruction. I am 44 years old and a breast cancer survivor for 11 years. I have really thought about tramflap. My plastic surgeon feels like I would be a good canidate. My only concern is complications such as hernia's or inability to lift or do activites that take stomach muscles. I am very active. How are you doing?

    I had DCIS in my right breast with squamous cell carcinoma on the nipple. At that time they did not even offer me reconstruction, plus the scare with the implants was going on. I am now considering reconstruction. I just read your question from back in October and I would like to know what you decided. They are telling me since I am small I do not have enough body fat to do a tram flap.