grandmagail Member Posts: 28
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I met with the surgeon yesterday and I still have test...CT scans, MRI, etc. to do but she wanted me to be thinking about total mastectomy or lumpectomy...if it will be possible. Also about reconstructive surgery if I elect the mastectomy. I would love to have input, on the reconstructive surgery especially. I'm 64 years old and haven't been in a swimsuit in years, if that makes a difference. Really, I would just like to know about problems with the surgery or comfort level without the reconstruct? Any input will be appreciated. I feel overwhelmed with the decisions I need to make. Thanks


  • seof
    seof Member Posts: 819 Member
    The decisions are overwhelming, but you have come to the right place to hear it "from the horses mouth". I am 43 and I was diagnosed in may '07. My first response was panic...get rid of this as fast as you can...take both off right now! I have had 4 months of chemo and the original lump is gone...still some shadowy areas on the mammogram, but we know what kind of chemo works on my body. I will be have a mastectomy in Dec. Dr. says there are no indicators that I should have bilateral, but I have family history with my sister having a recurrence, and I think double would give me peace of mind. I am planning on reconstruction, still want to discuss options with the surgeon. For you I would say do all the research you to those who have been there, talk to your Doctors and ask questions till you feel like you have all the information you need. It is scary, but most of the time there is time to decide. Most of all, remember that it is your body and your life. Do whatever will help you to live it as well as possible for as long as possible. This site is a good place to come for help in that.

    You are in good company, seof
  • cabbott
    cabbott Member Posts: 1,039 Member
    My heart goes out to you. I remember being totally overwhelmed when I was first diagnosed. This is a great place for asking questions and getting answers (and meeting some great people too), but getting cancer is a high price to pay to join the "club". When I was first looking for information on reconstruction, I wanted to look at the various kinds of reconstruction options to see what they would look like. The Susan Love website has just such pictures along with the survivors stories of how they made their choices. I liked the idea of a DIEP flap (little muscle damage, real tissue that could change if I gained or lost weight) or a mastectomy. After seeing and feeling what a prosthesis was like, I chose the mastectomy. I like to swim in pools mainly but I have met one woman who went back for reconstruction after a mastectomy because she swam in the ocean daily. After losing her prosthesis one too many times, she decided it was time for implants! Personally, I haven't ever had that problem. There are some nighties and dresses I just can't wear (too low-cut and I don't have cleavage)), but most folks have no idea my right breast isn't there.

    While the prosthesis isn't a problem for me, I had to have the mastectomy. I had multiple site of invasive cancer and I'm built small. Lumpectomy plus radiation is equal or better at stopping cancer in its tracks when it presents as a lump. So don't take off a breast for the wrong reasons. I consulted a major breast center just to make sure I had to do it.(I did.) In the end, I stayed at that center because they could do a sentinel node dissection which my general surgeon back home was just learning how to do. That saved my arm from the probability of getting lymphedema (arm swelling from excess lymph fluid). No everyone who has a full dissection gets it, but I'm the clumsiest person in the world and if anyone would get it, I'm sure I would. Lympedema won't kill you, but it can ruin your life if it gets bad, so it is important to check that out too. Even with the sentinel node operation, I still try to take precautions: wearing gloves to pull weeds, treating all scratches and bites immediately to prevent infections, trying to avoid injuries and overstressing that arm. I am an active person and go to the gym Monday through Friday, but I take care not too lift too much. But I digress. You asked about the surgery. When I had a lumpectomy(what they did to see if I had cancer since my biopsy was iffy), the recovery time was like two days and I was back to my regular routine. When I had the mastectomy, I went back to work within two weeks. My arm was stiff though for about a month. I couldn't lift the laundry basket or a heavy bag of groceries for about 6 weeks. Pulling weeds the first month was definately out. The exercises the breast center gave me to do helped a lot. I did not need any exercises to recover from the lumpectomy. Good luck with all your decisions!
  • toninasky
    toninasky Member Posts: 102
    Hi There,
    I know it is a tough decision, but you have to make it. First let me tell you that I was diagnosed 1 year and 4 months ago with breast cancer, at the age of 64. I chose the lumpectomy, over the mastectomy. This was my surgeon's advise. I wanted to have the mastectomy, but she encouraged me to have the lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy first. I did have one node positive out of 15, but the breast edges were clean. She advised chemo, and radiation, and because I am estrogen and progesterone positive, I now take Femara. I am not sorry I went this way.

    My advise to you is ask your surgeon what she truly would do if it were her decision. Then weigh your feelings and go for it.
    Keep positive, and good luck and God Bless.
  • melney
    melney Member Posts: 9
    So sorry that you're facing this. The number of decisions you have to make can really make your head swim. I was diagnosed 7 months ago at age 46 after a year battling recurrent abscesses in my breast, with two surgeries and a burst artery thrown in for good measure. The cancer was found "coincidentally" (if you believe in coincidence) while trying to diagnose another spot. Turned out I had infections throughout the breast, so I had no option but mastectomy. The surgery itself was not as big of a deal physically as I expected; the incision results in a wide numb area, so no pain there. I did suffer with some significant nerve pain at the edges of the numb area for 3-4 weeks, but I toughed it out. Back to work after just over a week. No lifting anything heavier than a pen for 6 weeks.

    Opted for reconstruction with implants a couple of months later. That surgery was a breeze. The fills were also painless. I know some have discomfort or even pain during the fills, but the secret seems to be to add a small amount at a time and not to rush the process. I'm scheduled next week for an implant exchange as well as a lift and small augmentation on the other side for symmetry. I'm actually looking forward to the surgery. This will be the last big surgery, which is cause for celebration in my book. (The only things that will remain will be simple office procedures in several months.)

    The process of expansion can leave you temporarily lopsided. I chose to view it as no different than if I'd had chemo and lost my hair. It's just part of cancer treatment. In truth, other people didn't notice as much as I thought they would.

    Best of luck as you make your decisions.
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
    I'm 52. Was 50 when lump was found. I opted for a lumpectomy, since, as was already said, if the tumor is well-defined, and can be removed completely without too much trouble, the stats are about the same as with a total breast removal.

    I had sentinel node involvement, but no secondary nodes active.

    I still have most of my breast. It has a pretty blue circle on it from the node dye, but other than that...

    The recovery for a lumpectomy is usually less involved than a mastectomy with reconstruction. There can be drains (I had them), but only for a short time.

    I agree with others, ask your surgeon about reoccurance stats between the lumpectomy and the mastectomy. Also, it may come down to your comfort level only. I already was sporting a new 'up and down' scar from my colrectal cancer surgery, and didn't want to have another. I was (and still am) willing to take the precautions to watch for a reoccurance. But, the margins were I feel I'm pretty much done with it. At least in the one breast.

    Hugs, Kathi
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    First of all~ (((hugs))) and a @<~~{~~~ rose for you, Kindred Spirit! I was dx in 2003 at the age of 53. I had a lumpectomy , as I had "substantial breasts"...don't you just LOVE medical jargon?! I echo all of the sentiments of my BC sisters in here~ don't wait too long of course, but have a frank discussion with your surgeon. Also, if possible, I strongly suggest you take someone with you~ mate, good friend, neighbor, anyone who can also listen to the advice. Most of us in here will attest to the fact that our diagnosed, overewhelmed, frightened brains don't process all of the information well! A 2nd person in the room with us is a blessing indeed. Btw...feel free to come into chat tonight! We meet in room 2 at 6PM Pacific time. It is nice to hang out and be bigger than this beast called cancer!