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Wanting info re recovery from mastectomy after radiation

Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2001

I was diagnosed with a breast cancer over a year ago and went through lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Now, 7 months after radiation, I've been diagnosed with a very rare and apparently radiation-induced skin cancer of the nipple of the radiated breast. Everyone agrees, including me, to go ahead and have a "simple mastectomy" (just breast tissue will be removed, no lymph nodes or muscle). I won't be doing reconstruction at this time (I've been through enough pain and lengthy recovery for the past year; I just want to get on with feeling good again).
I want to know about others' experiences with recovery from mastectomy after lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Does it take longer to recover from mastectomy after all I've been through than a mastectomy at the beginning of the cancer treatment journey? How was the post-op pain? How long before you were able to go back to work? How long before you felt really good again? Any tips (do's or don'ts based on your experience) you have about what might aid in a speedier recovery? I will be asking for a prophylactic antibiotic this time to help ward off infection. I look forward to your responses. I want to go into this with realistic expectations, good info and be able to plan my work schedule accordingly.
Thanks for your help. - GayJ

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

I think you and your doctor have made a wise choice. Wonder why no lymphnodes since spread to nipple? There for it wasn't incased I would think could go else where too? I don't know just asking. I am mastectomy and no reconstruction. I am glad I had one breast at a time, don't know how others can do the bilateral at once. Not everyone suffers with pain but some of us do. I suggest if in pain get them to give you morphine so that you will be up moving around instead of layinb in bed in the fetal position. The best thing I ever did was start moving arm right away and do exercises they give you faithfully. I had full range within first year something I didn't think could happen. Then strong enough to go for round two. Moving and exercise the key.
I am glad more are getting shots to ward off infection, when I had mine nuprogen was just being used and I had infection before shots considered. Lucky I am here to tell the story I don't think I would be had I tried the bilater thing.
Eat well, if can't eat drink nutrition. That is best defense to ward off infection and disease. I wish you the least of probelms one could have. Your right you have been through enough, so have I my reason for no reconstruction, can't deal with any more surgery, enough is enough.
Be good to yourself always,

Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2001

Dear Tara - Thanks for your response. The cancer they found on my nipple is not a spread or a recurrence. It's a brand new cancer, evidentally triggered by radiation. My doctor said because it is a skin cancer, the lymph nodes are not involved, but your question has prompted me to ask more questions about that.
How long did it take for you to get back to work after your mastectomy? I'm a psychotherapist and I see clients in my home office (so I don't have far to go to be at work) and I'm trying to estimate when to start scheduling appointments with clients again.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I wish you the very best in your healing journey. - GayJ

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