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2 weeks post op bilateral mastectomy with latissimus dorsi flap with expanders

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi, I am 35 years old, had bilateral mastectomy with latissimus dorsi flap an expanders done 3/14/05. I had hodgkin's disease when I was 19 years old, the effects of the radiation are believed to have caused the breast cancer. I thought I had my turn with cancer, but I was determined that I would get through this just like the hodgkin's, but I am feeling very depressed. I did not anticipate so much pain, and I am so scared of starting chemo now. I feel like I just want to run away and not deal with this. I just want someone to tell me this pain will ease up, I have 2 children 4 and 3 and I can not even take care of them.

Posts: 19
Joined: Mar 2005

I hope you are asking for help with the care of your children. Don't try to take on more than you can handle right now. They just need your love.
Your pain will ease up but it is ok to feel like you want to run away.
I am presently getting ready for my 4th chemo treatment.
Remember you are not alone.

Posts: 245
Joined: May 2003

I am so very sorry you are going thru this, especially after having been thru what you have. It is entirely normal to be depressed and afraid but if you find that it is getting in the way of doing what you need to do then it's time to mention this at your next appointment (or make an appointment with either your onc. or MD) to get some help. I don't quite know the percentage of women going thru treatment who use anti-depressants but my guess is that it's in the vicinity of 50%. Please ask for or accept help from your family & friends, I'm sure they are offering. If you haven't already, contact your local breast coalition. They will offer all sorts of concrete help. Reach out and people will be there to offer support. Your pain, both physically and emotionally, will get better. Hang in there and visit us often.

Take care,

Posts: 76
Joined: Aug 2004

Dear Kmarker, I remember thinking as I was checking in for my surgery, that there are probably some people who do just walk out of the hospital and 'skip' their operation. Congrats on not doing that! Just take it one day, one minute at a time. You know you have a lot to live for and a lot of women have been through the same thing you are going through right now. In some situations, fear and depression are normal! I was terrified my first chemo treatment. There was a woman there who has having her last treatment the same time and I knew someday, I would be that lucky woman! Ask for help, accept help and know someday, you will be the one who can offer help. It's only been two week since surgery - it will get better. Good luck!

Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 2003

Dear KM -

I am sorry that you have been through so much and I hope that some of the advice and comforting words of others help you through this time. Having also undergone bilateral mastectomy/reconstruction surgery, I can empathize with your current pain -- having lost two wonderful people (a cousin and a close friend -- both very young) to Hodgkins I am so happy for you that you are still with us. Although I can hear the fear you feel, I also see your incredible spirit -- as you are still asking how to get through this. You must be a very brave and strong woman to have come through so well so far. I also want to echo some of the advice of others -- try to use your strength and arms only for your recovery and to enjoy yourself. The housework can get done by others --as can all the other boring and exhausting cleaning, etc you normally do. If you have not been sent to a physical therapist, please ask your dr to refer you to one (you want one who has experience with women who had mastectomy/reconstruction surgery). Gentle stretches done in short sessions several times a day will start to help you with the pain -- as will massages. Massage with a ball will help to get any cut-up muscles to stretch with less pain -- you can start with tennis balls -- your children might enjoy helping you with this. If you want more info on this, feel free to email me. I can recommend stretches and eventual exercises + books that can help you. I do this massage for myself when my family members are not around.

Another great way to start feeling better is to go (briefly for starters) to places that you really enjoy -- the park, a movie, a music concert -- whatever makes you smile. Fresh air and a bit of sunshine works wonders on most of us.

Posts: 16
Joined: Jan 2005

I know it seems like the pain will last forever, but it won't. I am 5 and 1/2 weeks post op for bilateral mastectomies and reconstruction (TRAM). I feel about 80% better now. If you can focus on the day to day improvements, it might help. They may seem small...but they add up. My children are a little older than yours (6 & 9), but it seemed to help them (and me) when friends brought over art supplies and helped them make pictures for me which they hung all over my room to cheer me up. They also liked making balloons out of the latex gloves that were sent home with me to change the dressings and strip the drains. If you are in a lot of pain, you should consider asking your doctor to increase or change your pain medication. There is no reason to suffer from pain. It won't help you heal.
Good luck. My thoughts are with you.

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi K,
Unfortunately I have to welcome you to MY WORLD! But rest assure things will be fine...I too am a long term survivor of Hodgkins at 21 and reoccurance at 22. I was stage 3B and had chemo and mantle radiation. Fifteen years later at 37 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy April 15, 2003, and 4 months of chemo (maxed out on AC, so they used a variety of other drugs, taxol, taxatiere, etc. If you had chemo for Hodgkins have NO FEAR, as MOPP is the worst chemo (so said my Dr.)Went to Disney with my sister and her kids 6 weeks post surgery and a bandanna on my head. (Paid a small fortune for a real hair wig that I wore for 1 hour...itch,itch, itch) I am fine now, actually put my hair in a pony tail today, for that I am grateful. This time around was so different(tollerable) than the Hodgkins. Look where you are in you life now as opposed to 19.(YUK!!) Step up to the plate and accept this challenge. I am thankful for my experiences, they have taught me so much about life. Please know I am here to talk to since we share so much in common. I live by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "You gain strength, courage, confindence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things you think you cannot do." Denise

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