Mastectomy in 5 Days - Having a Hard Time Coming to Terms/Accepting it Emotionally

Chris78
Chris78 Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hello everyone,
I'm a new member here, and could use some friendship/support.
I'm scheduled for a "simple" mastectomy (no reconstruction at this time) on the 12th. I've known about this for a few months, but now that it's almost here, the reality is hitting hard. With the holidays that come with the end of the year, I admit that I put it out of my mind for a while - I guess that was my coping mechanism for the time being - denial. That was dumb on my part because here I am - 5 days away and now I am freaking out.

I keep telling myself at least it's not a limb or my sight that I'm losing - I know it could be far worse that what it is. And I know there are many, many brave others who've been through this before - so in a way I feel that I've no right to whine. But at the same time, it's so incredibly personal and a painful thing to face emotionally. The part that bothers me is that it's so permanent, and that part of me will never be the same again. I'd feel better if I knew the feeling/sensation (NOT sexually - just in general) in my chest would return over time - but I know better. And the stories I've read about on/off shooting pain in the area after surgery...does not sound pleasant.

Anyway, thanks so much for listening/reading my rant. Any words of wisdom/advice/tips on coping/personal stories - anything - would be deeply appreciated.

Thanks Much!

Christine :)
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Comments

  • taleena
    taleena Member Posts: 1,612 Member
    Christine,
    I am so sorry

    Christine,

    I am so sorry for the reason that you had to find this board, but glad that you were able to find us. You will find a wealth of information, support, and friendship here...

    I can't personally answer your questions, as I have had a lumpectomy/partial mastectomy and do not have the same experience. But I know many of our sisters in pink here have, and will be here any minute to chime in with their experiences and answer questions that you have, that unfortunately doctors just don't answer. They will have walked this road before you... in the mean time, know that you are in my thoughts...you are not alone.. we are all here for eachother, each step of the way.

    Hugs,

    ~T
  • lhb200
    lhb200 Member Posts: 14
    hI christine!!
    My surgery has not been scheduled as of this date, but will probably be next week. I have had all the test and am ready for the mastcetomy and reconstruction. I chose to have immediate reconstruction. I felt if it had been a double I probably would not have had reconstruction but with a single I chose reconstruction. I had a lumpectomy and lymp node extraction in 2004 and the cancer returned in the same breast last month. I had cemo and radition. This was such a surprise for my oncologist and myself after 6 years of no signs of the cancer returning. But, we do what we have to do.

    I am so sorry about your condition. It does hurt to know we are losing a part of our body and to me I feel like this is a monster in my body that I despise and want gone!! I feel violated and out of control. I am a Christian and believe God will heal me and that is where I put my trust and that is where I draw my strength.

    If I can be of any help to you please feel free to cry on my shoulder. We can get through this together!! please keep in touch and since our surgeries are so close together. We can talk each other through the rough times!!
    LInda
  • kimberlyrose
    kimberlyrose Member Posts: 15
    Hi Christine. I too am new
    Hi Christine. I too am new here and totally get what you're saying. I had bilateral mastectomy 9 weeks ago. I tend to be very "intellectual" about things. So I did all the research, understood my options, and accepted my fate as logical and practical. Then it hit me the day before my surgery. I was terrified and couldn't stop the emotions from spilling out. Denial is great until the dam breaks.

    I don't have an easy solution. Some trust spirituality, some trust data, some just hope all is going to be well. whatever suits you... use it. And know that we'll be here.

    Kimberly
  • Wolfi
    Wolfi Member Posts: 425
    Sensation
    Christine,

    I am four months out from my bilateral (no reconstruction) mastecomy and I am just starting to get back some of the feeling around my scars. The surgery damages a lot of nerves and it takes a while for them to figure out what they're doing and get set up again. I have not experienced the shooting pain you mentioned although I am currently dealing with tightness in my chest muscles.

    What I did to prepare (mentally) for my surgery was to think about WHY I was having this done - to get rid of the cancer that could take my life away. Then I wrapped an ace bandage tight around my chest and looked at myself in the mirror for a while so I could try to get used to seeing myself flat chested (I was a 38DD). Finally I told myself that I would look great, feel better eventually, and not have to ever wear a bra again. The mental image of being able to go for a jog without having to wear a sports bra or having my breasts hurt when I was done is the thing that got me to a point of acceptance. My surgery went well and I am still happy with my decisions.

    You are right, you will never be the same again. When you are done you will be new, improved and healthy.

    Good luck with your surgery and take care of yourself!

    Wolfi
  • jk1952
    jk1952 Member Posts: 613

    Hi Christine. I too am new
    Hi Christine. I too am new here and totally get what you're saying. I had bilateral mastectomy 9 weeks ago. I tend to be very "intellectual" about things. So I did all the research, understood my options, and accepted my fate as logical and practical. Then it hit me the day before my surgery. I was terrified and couldn't stop the emotions from spilling out. Denial is great until the dam breaks.

    I don't have an easy solution. Some trust spirituality, some trust data, some just hope all is going to be well. whatever suits you... use it. And know that we'll be here.

    Kimberly

    Hi Christine. Please don't
    Hi Christine. Please don't let other people's experiences make you fearful of the surgery. It's different for everyone. I have had many breast surgeries, including a bilateral mastectomy and immediate DIEP reconstruction in April. I've only had shooting pains a couple times, and it was a minute or less of a sharp pain, but it wasn't something that I even thought about afterwards. I actually experienced this with lumpectomies, but not with the mastectomy.

    As far as the 'feeling' is concerned, it doesn't really bother me, although I really dreaded it. I only notice it when I rub against something or put on deodorant, and it is a lot better than right after surgery. It's not really a numbness, just no feeling. Actual numbness would be much worse.

    I had also read about women being in extreme pain after the surgery, like they had been hit by a truck. My major complaints after the surgery were a wicked headache and flushing from the anesthetic and the morphine. After I started taking on Tylenol and Motrin, I was much better, and they really did control my pain.

    I know this is hard to do, but try not to think about it too much. Hopefully, you'll find like I did that your expectations are much worse than the reality.

    Joyce
  • aysemari
    aysemari Member Posts: 1,596 Member
    Wolfi said:

    Sensation
    Christine,

    I am four months out from my bilateral (no reconstruction) mastecomy and I am just starting to get back some of the feeling around my scars. The surgery damages a lot of nerves and it takes a while for them to figure out what they're doing and get set up again. I have not experienced the shooting pain you mentioned although I am currently dealing with tightness in my chest muscles.

    What I did to prepare (mentally) for my surgery was to think about WHY I was having this done - to get rid of the cancer that could take my life away. Then I wrapped an ace bandage tight around my chest and looked at myself in the mirror for a while so I could try to get used to seeing myself flat chested (I was a 38DD). Finally I told myself that I would look great, feel better eventually, and not have to ever wear a bra again. The mental image of being able to go for a jog without having to wear a sports bra or having my breasts hurt when I was done is the thing that got me to a point of acceptance. My surgery went well and I am still happy with my decisions.

    You are right, you will never be the same again. When you are done you will be new, improved and healthy.

    Good luck with your surgery and take care of yourself!

    Wolfi

    Allow yourself to process it
    this may mean crying, feeling terrified, but understand that this is just part of the big picture that is called survival.
    I may be facing that decision, waiting for blood test results. And I have already made my peace with it. Of course I
    went through all the motions, much like yourself - cried, was scared but this is the road to acceptance.

    I am glad you found this. It helps me so much, I am on here pretty much every evening and I feel less alone.

    Sending you hugs,
    Ayse
  • mberg
    mberg Member Posts: 62
    denial
    I think most of us are in denial until the surgery day comes! I work for the hospital where I had my surgery, I thought I was fine with it until I went ob the surgery scheduler and saw my own name w/bilateral mastectomy right next to it! Then i went and threw up!!!!It is losing a part of your body just as much as any other, so don't fell like it's wrong to feel loss. I hope everything goes well for you!! Good Luck! monica
  • MyTurnNow
    MyTurnNow Member Posts: 2,686 Member
    Christine, just wanted to
    Christine, just wanted to welcome you to this group. I did not have the same surgery as you are but understand the fear of the unknown. As others have said, we're here and will be with you spiritually every step of the way. Good luck with your surgery and come back here often. Take care.
  • carkris
    carkris Member Posts: 4,553 Member
    MyTurnNow said:

    Christine, just wanted to
    Christine, just wanted to welcome you to this group. I did not have the same surgery as you are but understand the fear of the unknown. As others have said, we're here and will be with you spiritually every step of the way. Good luck with your surgery and come back here often. Take care.

    I have had a bilateral
    I have had a bilateral mastectomy. the first one 15 years ago and the july 09. I wanted the second mastectomy as I was tired of biopsies. just happened I had a lump prior to being able to schedula a propholactic mastectomy.
    I think the first ime I was 34 and a deer in the headlights. I had dreams about it after and had thoughts about my femininity. but never one to be into "looks" helped. believe it or not I feel more symetrical now. I had one large remaining breast that was impossible to match with a prostheseis.and dressing was hard I had a reconstruction the first time but had to have it removed because of a local recurrance and radiation a year later. This time the radiation oncoloogist wants my expander removed. too complicated to deal with here. ANYWAY, have you consisdered reconstruction? is it because the tissue has been already radiated? I dont find it such a big deal. the surgery went well I was out of the hospital in 24 hours instead of 2 days had minimal pain, I dont have alot feeling but its not unpleanant and no real shooting pains. The tightness can be helped with stretching and moisturizing. I have to admit to feeling a little weird if I go out with womwn and they start talking about their boobs alot or bras. Sometimes reality hits and women dress more open these day and I think about what I have been through, but not too long, would I dress that way prob not I am pretty conservative. Not to minimize but it can be part of the battle. your mammmos will go quicker. anyway you are normal to feel this way, but you will be ok. Hugs to you and hoping your surgery goes well/
  • Ritzy
    Ritzy Member Posts: 4,381 Member
    carkris said:

    I have had a bilateral
    I have had a bilateral mastectomy. the first one 15 years ago and the july 09. I wanted the second mastectomy as I was tired of biopsies. just happened I had a lump prior to being able to schedula a propholactic mastectomy.
    I think the first ime I was 34 and a deer in the headlights. I had dreams about it after and had thoughts about my femininity. but never one to be into "looks" helped. believe it or not I feel more symetrical now. I had one large remaining breast that was impossible to match with a prostheseis.and dressing was hard I had a reconstruction the first time but had to have it removed because of a local recurrance and radiation a year later. This time the radiation oncoloogist wants my expander removed. too complicated to deal with here. ANYWAY, have you consisdered reconstruction? is it because the tissue has been already radiated? I dont find it such a big deal. the surgery went well I was out of the hospital in 24 hours instead of 2 days had minimal pain, I dont have alot feeling but its not unpleanant and no real shooting pains. The tightness can be helped with stretching and moisturizing. I have to admit to feeling a little weird if I go out with womwn and they start talking about their boobs alot or bras. Sometimes reality hits and women dress more open these day and I think about what I have been through, but not too long, would I dress that way prob not I am pretty conservative. Not to minimize but it can be part of the battle. your mammmos will go quicker. anyway you are normal to feel this way, but you will be ok. Hugs to you and hoping your surgery goes well/

    Hi
    Hi Christine! I am sending you big hugs and lots of prayers!

    Sue :)
  • jnl
    jnl Member Posts: 3,869 Member
    MyTurnNow said:

    Christine, just wanted to
    Christine, just wanted to welcome you to this group. I did not have the same surgery as you are but understand the fear of the unknown. As others have said, we're here and will be with you spiritually every step of the way. Good luck with your surgery and come back here often. Take care.

    It is normal to be so
    It is normal to be so confused and upset. Just hearing the words breast cancer throws us into a panic state. We are here to help you and to support you. Also, see if there is a counselor at your cancer center to help you if you need it. Good luck.

    Leeza
  • BethInAz
    BethInAz Member Posts: 203 Member
    Bilateral Mastectomy
    Christine, I consider October 14 2009 the beginning of my breast cancer survivor timeline. It's when I had my bilateral mastectomy. The decision was easy for me as my type of cancer hid from radiology and was only found by biopsy. By the time I got to surgery, my tumor was 2.5 cm in diameter and it was miraculous that my lymph nodes were clean. I opted to have the other breast removed as well because I didn't want to always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've had no shooting pains and slowly I've gotten a lot of the feeling back in my chest. Initially I had phantom pain (similar to what an amputee experiences at the loss of a body part). It felt to me like I was nursing again and my milk was always coming in. Over time that has gone away and I only experience it occasionally. I often would place my hands in front of me like a scale and weigh my options - breast conservation in one hand and life conservation in the other. Deciding that I wanted to be around for my husband and daughters and live to see the birth of grandchildren made the choice an easy one. There were moments of grieving the loss but you just cry a little bit, dry your eyes, and go on with your wonderfully healthy life! Goodbye Cancer! Hello Life! Each day then becomes a gift, wrapped up with a beautiful bow. Life takes on new meaning and nothing is ever the same again. It's been a journey of joy and goodness. I will pray for you specifically as you face your surgery on the 12th. (I'm halfway through my chemo now and sometimes lie awake at night. That's the time I pray for everybody on my list. You'll now be on that list.)
    Blessings! Beth
  • DebbyM
    DebbyM Member Posts: 3,289 Member
    BethInAz said:

    Bilateral Mastectomy
    Christine, I consider October 14 2009 the beginning of my breast cancer survivor timeline. It's when I had my bilateral mastectomy. The decision was easy for me as my type of cancer hid from radiology and was only found by biopsy. By the time I got to surgery, my tumor was 2.5 cm in diameter and it was miraculous that my lymph nodes were clean. I opted to have the other breast removed as well because I didn't want to always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've had no shooting pains and slowly I've gotten a lot of the feeling back in my chest. Initially I had phantom pain (similar to what an amputee experiences at the loss of a body part). It felt to me like I was nursing again and my milk was always coming in. Over time that has gone away and I only experience it occasionally. I often would place my hands in front of me like a scale and weigh my options - breast conservation in one hand and life conservation in the other. Deciding that I wanted to be around for my husband and daughters and live to see the birth of grandchildren made the choice an easy one. There were moments of grieving the loss but you just cry a little bit, dry your eyes, and go on with your wonderfully healthy life! Goodbye Cancer! Hello Life! Each day then becomes a gift, wrapped up with a beautiful bow. Life takes on new meaning and nothing is ever the same again. It's been a journey of joy and goodness. I will pray for you specifically as you face your surgery on the 12th. (I'm halfway through my chemo now and sometimes lie awake at night. That's the time I pray for everybody on my list. You'll now be on that list.)
    Blessings! Beth

    I want to welcome you to our
    I want to welcome you to our support group here Christine and to let you know that I am saying prayers for you. I didn't have the surgery that you are having, and, I know that this is very difficult for you. But, you have all of us here to support and encourage you al the way. Praying for you!

    Debby
  • carkris
    carkris Member Posts: 4,553 Member
    DebbyM said:

    I want to welcome you to our
    I want to welcome you to our support group here Christine and to let you know that I am saying prayers for you. I didn't have the surgery that you are having, and, I know that this is very difficult for you. But, you have all of us here to support and encourage you al the way. Praying for you!

    Debby

    beth that was a beautiful
    beth that was a beautiful way to put it. I'd love to copy that and remind myself. thanks for that!!!1
  • BethInAz
    BethInAz Member Posts: 203 Member
    carkris said:

    beth that was a beautiful
    beth that was a beautiful way to put it. I'd love to copy that and remind myself. thanks for that!!!1

    Thanks - I'm glad you were blessed!
    You're very welcome, new friend. I'm so glad you were blessed by my words. Question for you - what form did your local recurrence take? Since radiation isn't necessarily indicated for mastectomy, I assumed that the chemo would knock out anything at the surgery site. I do know that mastectomy isn't the "silver bullet" and we still have to be vigilant. I'm just curious as to whether a local recurrence would show up as another lump or a change in the skin. I suppose it looks like the old breast exam. Get to know your body and be alert to any changes at all?
    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Beth
  • 4joey
    4joey Member Posts: 9
    surgery in 5 days
    i know how you feel i had two weeks to get the news make a decision on the mastectomy with all the lymph nodes removed and recustructive surgery . i choose not to wait to get this cancer out of me and yes somewhere inside i knew to wake up without a breast was going to be a struggle i dont feel the same about my body my husband is great about it its just with the surgery cemo hormone pills and rads you just dont feel like yourself . its a new you one who has fought for your life to keep it the breast we can replace im sure you have a family it the you that they cant replace you so dont be scared your saving your life and yes i now see a shrink for all my emotions so i may heal to get a new breast maybe not sure my surgery was on 9/11/2009 .my little sis was right by my side every step of the way from cemo to hell and back with me thank god for little sisters. my prayers are with you ill light a candle for all of us tonight as i always do .it wasnt to painful since the hospital here where i live and the doctors want you to use the pain med i fought them on it but in the end they where right why be in pain it stops you from healing . good luck all will be ok.joanne
  • ppurdin
    ppurdin Member Posts: 1,181
    Hi Christine
    I had a lumpectomy and they found Cancer.I just finished my treatments.Like you I tuned it out about surgery until I had to think about it.For me was about 2days before surgery.And then I got really scared.I don,t think anyone can say they understand unless they have went through it.I still have the shooting pain with a lumpectomy.And my sister does after 8yrs.I know how scared I was before surgery.I will pray that you get inter strengh to get through this.I have you in my Prayers.By the way you are adorable in your hat.Love and Prayers(Pat).Please let us know how you are doing.You will find allot of love and support on this sight.
  • boppel
    boppel Member Posts: 26
    Hi Chris !
    Just want to add my 2 cents. I am so sorry that you have to go through this, but at least you have found this board and all of us who can help and support you. I had a Mastectomy in 1998, had no one to talk to and was not aware of this board until much later, it was a great comfort to be able to talk to someone that had the same condition.
    My surgery went well, I had hardly any pain, just some discomfort under my arm and numbness, my only regret was that I waited 1 year for the reconstruction ( Tram Flap) but I did not know it could be done at the same time. I find after all these years just the scars bother me somewhat sometimes, a little tight, so I stretch my arm and do some excercises, that works. They way you are feeling right now is OK, it is normal, but I assure you it will get better. My thoughts and prayers are with you for a smooth sailing through your surgery and a speedy recovery. Don't forget to keep us up to date. Hugs coming your way
    em
  • scout5000
    scout5000 Member Posts: 94 Member
    Xanax
    Xanax got me through the days prior to my surgeries. I simply called my primary care doc's office, told them I was having panic attacks thinking about the surgery and requested they call in a presciption for me. I had a single mastectomy with immediate reconstruction almost a year ago. I did have pain at first (the pain meds helped) and continued to have some short (a few seconds) of shooting pain. The lymph node removal was the longest lasting pain. But I do have to tell you that I completely forgot about all of the pain until I read your posting. Our brains have an incredible trick of helping us to forget pain. I wish you well.
  • Alexis F
    Alexis F Member Posts: 3,598
    BethInAz said:

    Thanks - I'm glad you were blessed!
    You're very welcome, new friend. I'm so glad you were blessed by my words. Question for you - what form did your local recurrence take? Since radiation isn't necessarily indicated for mastectomy, I assumed that the chemo would knock out anything at the surgery site. I do know that mastectomy isn't the "silver bullet" and we still have to be vigilant. I'm just curious as to whether a local recurrence would show up as another lump or a change in the skin. I suppose it looks like the old breast exam. Get to know your body and be alert to any changes at all?
    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Beth

    Sending you hugs and
    Sending you hugs and encouragement Christine!