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ridiculous question

Posts: 76
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi everyone,

Have any of you had difficulty realizing your breasts no longer physically exist? I am not experiencing phantom breast pain. I still have pain in my upper chest and neck, but I have absolutely no feeling where my breasts were. In fact I can put an ice cold can on the incisions and I don't feel it. It seems that since I have no feeling there, it makes it more difficult for me to realize that they aren't there. Sometimes I have to actually look at and feel the incision area. I also find that when talking with my husband I don't know what to call the area. (chest or former breasts) Has anyone else experienced this? I know it is petty, but I just wondered.

Please pray for me that I am able to have the drains on the left side removed in the morning. It will be 3 weeks!

Thank you for your continued inspiration! You are all in my prayers. May you have a blessed day!



Posts: 706
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Laura:

I'm sure that some of the ladies on this site could better respond to your questions.
I can share what my experience has been to date and hope that may be helful in some way.

I would imagine that the numbness and lack of
feeling will subside with time. My doctor
told me that it takes about a year for healing to be complete, inside and out. I still have a spot or two along my scar (from lumpectomy) which remains numb. However, for several months following surgery, I had quite an area that was devoid of feeling but it has continually improved. (I had my initial surgery almost 9 months ago and an additional surgery to better clear the margins three weeks after the first...using the same incision.)

It seems to help to massage vitamin E or some other good ointment into the scar, several times a day. It helps dissipate some of the underlying scar tissue and in general, helps to keep the skin soft and elastic. I used the aloe vera plant and
hydrophilic ointment, as it is pure and contains no irritating additives or perfumes
and I applied the Vitamin E oil before bedtime.

Re how to refer to your former breasts...I think that whatever is comfortable for you is what's going to work best. My friends who've had mastectomy just refer to it as their chest and when referring to a particular area, they say "above the incision, below the incision, etc..

Hope those drains come out soooon! Be kind
to yourself and remember that healing takes
some time, physically, emotionally and spiritually and we all have to try to be patient with ourselves as our journey takes
us through peaks and valleys toward being and feeling whole again. There's an old song
that, for me, exemplifies how it feels to go
through bc. It says: "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name" and it goes on to say what happened after this many
days and after that many days. To me, that
sort of parallels our bc journey...the changes and the revelations we experience.

Love, light and laughter,

pamtriggs's picture
Posts: 407
Joined: Sep 2000

Dear Laura
I presume you have had both breasts removed. It depends on the type of surgery you had but nerves are inevitably damaged during surgery (i.e. they are cut) & feeling will never return to those areas. After 20+ years I still have massive numb areas where I had breast removed & lymph nodes. It is only really annoying when you get an itch in that area & scratching does not help. Even now I still think I have a breast there and scratch my prosthesis (I never had a reconstruction). Yes do keep calling that area your breast. You will either have a reconstruction or prosthesis I presume & beleive me you will then feel normal again & the uplifting in your spirits is unbelievable. You are obviously very down at this time so soon after surgery but life does get better & if you are lucky enough to have no further metastases your life will return to normal & you will even forget that your breasts are not the ones you used to have. My children even used to forget which side was the false one & we all still laugh at the time my prosthesis floated away from me when I was swimming in the surf. There I was with my breast form happily bobbing beside me. Take each day as a blessing & you will find that having BC is not all negative. My thoughts & prayers are with you during this recovery phase. Keep strong.
Love Pam

Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

Well Laura, first of all, there is no such thing as a stupid question, believe me, we have talked about EVERYTHING on this site in the past!! It will be two years in Jan that I will have had my mastectomy. I still find the scar area numb, and if I drink something cold, I can feel it down the side of my incision area and ribcage, feels really cool!! If I am 'aroused' I get all goosepimply on that side, just like I still had a nipple and it was stiff. And itches, are bitches!! If you get an itch, you can scratch and scratch but never relieve it!! Personally I think you were 'lucky' to have both gone, I am large breasted, and with only one gone, If I dont wear my prosthesis, I am very obvious and really lopsided!! But I have gotten past the point of vanity, I just opt for comfort, and If someone looks at me, well, I just hope they feel empathy for me, and stop to think for a moment.
I basically have a what the hell attitude towards this whole thing, my liver tumours keep growing despite two years of chemo, but oh well, what the hell!! I know in my heart that I will beat this somehow, someday, so I just keep plowing along. After all, we have the chance to improve our lives and relationships, what about those poor people who had a fight with their spouse the morning they left for work at the Twin Towers? Death in an instant with no opportunity to do anything. Sorry if I am rambling but I think we should all look at the brighter side of this.
Take care, and laugh your pain away.
my love and hugs to you

Posts: 183
Joined: Nov 2001

My surgery was in May 2000. I had a mastectomy on my left side with lymphnodes removed 4 of them had cancer. I am still numb in almost the whole area .Part of my incision closer to the middle of my chest has some feeling the Dr. says this is normal.I know at times I do get sensations in the area but I don't know what causes this.You to may get some feeling back but it is to soon you need time to heal it hasn't been that long of a time yet. I so far have decided not to have reconstruction done I have a prosthesis which I am very comfortable with at this time. It is funny sometimes I forget and have an itch and go to scratch and it is underneath on the skin so it really doesn't help to scratch the prosthesis. Or when I get out of the shower and go to dry off underneath one side then go to do the same on that side and its not needed . I just forget somtimes it seems so natural to me. I will be praying for you and that you will get the drains out. You be good to yourself and take care of you . I hope that this little bit of humor will give you a laugh it is good to be able to find a little humor after all we have been thru. God Bless Debbie

Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2001

Hi Laura,

I had a mastectomy on the right side Jan 1990. I had reconstruction. That whole area is pretty much numb. There are areas you can stick a pin in and I don't feel a thing. But like others have said, I still get an itch once in a while and scatching doesn't help. That is so weird!! We all have to find the humor in our situation. As for me I call the right side the "fake one" and the left side the "real one". I tell my husband all the time he wouldn't know what to do with a two breasted woman anymore!! I opted for reconstruction right away, because I was 35 and we spent a good deal of time in the water. We own a boat, etc. I had a friend who had a prothesis which floated away too, so I was determined that wasn't going to happen to me. You have to make your own choices. Neither one is right or wrong, just what is best for you. I know I felt much better once I didn't just have a flat line to look at.

I hope you had those drains removed. You are in my prayers.

God Bless,

Posts: 46
Joined: Dec 2001

Dear Laura,
Nothing about what you are experiencing is petty. I had a double mastectomy on October 22 and still have moments when I have to think twice about what I have been through. I am completely numb where my 'new'breasts are. I opted for immediate reconstruction and am currently living with expanders. I hope to have my permanent implants in by mid-January. I am starting to get some sensation back around the base of my breasts. Sometimes it is painful and other times it just feels weird. It seems like every week is different. You will probably feel different levels of sensations for several months. What a journey!!! I am happy to have found this web site. I have been feeling very upbeat and strong since my surgery until the past two days. I have had an emotional set back the past couple of days and it has really helped to read everyone's messages. My Aunt died of Ovarian cancer two weeks ago. I am going to her funeral tomorrow and getting on a plane for the first time since Sept 11 (the day I was diagnosed). Please pray for me to have a safe and uneventful trip. I will pray for all of you. Thank you and God bless.

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