As women, especially American women, much of our womanliness is centered on our breasts. No matter where one look, there are pictures, billboards, commercials, television shows, and movies of women with ample cleavage and these beautiful breasts. The contimplationthought of losing one or both breasts, to breast cancer, can be devastating for many of us. Sure, there’s reconstruction, but will it ever really look the same again? Even if you have reconstruction, you’ll never have sensation there again and, for many of us, that definitely affects our sexuality.

A close friend of mine went through two separate mastectomies, for my breast cancer, despite the fact that she wanted them both done at the same time. Two different surgeons told her that wasn’t necessary. They found out, later, that it was, as she had thought, the same breast cancer in both breasts. Through these surgeries, she learned a few things about what to expect, and how to get up and running again, after a mastectomy for breast cancer.

The first thing she realized is that, apart from the emotional aspect of such an operation, this is a straightforward surgery. The breast is composed, mostly, of fatty tissue and, of course, milk ducts and lobes. The removal of this breast tissue is much easier than operating on an organ, but carries much more significanceimpact for most of us. Most surgeons will get as much of the breast tissue out as they can to help lessen the chance of a recurrence of your breast cancer. You will usually wind up with a horizontal scar about four inches long. The scar may be red for quite a while but, ultimately, should fade to where you can hardly see it anymore.

Since you won’t be able to raise your arms over your head for a while, you will want to be sure to take loose-fitting, button-down shirts with you to the hospital,. You will also need a sports bra. It is highly recommend one that fastens in the front. They will put that on you after your surgery. Typically, you should be able to stay in the hospital for one night. If you’re going to have lymph nodes removed, a small pillow, to slip under that arm, will help make you more comfortable. Check with your local American Cancer Society. They may have small pillows for you. An extra pillow to hold to your chest, if you need to cough, sneeze, or laugh, can help keep your incision from aching.

When you wake up, you will have a couple of drain tubes for each side you have done. These tubes are important as they allow the excess fluid, which your body will produce, to drain out. If you didn’t have them, the fluid would have to be removed with a needle. These drains will have to be emptied a couple of times a day. One will have to write down how much fluid you drain so the doctor will know when you’ve slowed down enough to remove them. You may not know where to put these drains under your clothing. She pinned hers up to the sports bra and that way so they didn’t pull when she moved.

Plan on having someone there to help you for the first few days after you get home. You won’t be allowed to reach into your cabinets and definitely won’t be able to clean house or pick up your little children. You’ll be sent home with pain meds and definitely take them when you need them. Studies show that you will heal faster if you keep yourself out of pain, so don’t be afraid to take them as prescribed.

You’ll need to sleep in a partial sitting position. If you have a recliner, you may consider moving it into the bedroom as you won’t be able to lie flat for a while. If you don’t have one, or don’t have space for it in your bedroom, lots of pillows will work, too. Just be sure you have enough pillows to keep yourself comfortably propped up.

If you would like someone who’s been there before you to visit with, be sure to call your local American Cancer Society. There is an American Cancer Society program where they try to match you with one of their volunteers who have a similar experience as you. This woman will come visit you and will bring you all kinds of brochures and information on conventional treatment. She will also bring a list of exercises to start doing to regain your mobility and range of motion.

This is VERY important. It hurts to stretch your arm up, after surgery, but if you haven’t had reconstruction, and you don’t start soon, you will lose that range of motion. I’d recommend starting to gently, slowly reach your arm up … let your body be your guide … the day after your surgery. This is ONLY if you have not had reconstruction. If you have, let your plastic surgeon tell you when to start stretching. Push to where it hurts just a little, but do not push too far beyond that. Little by little, you’ll find yourself able to stretch a little farther every couple of days.

In all circumstances, make sure you first and foremost follow all your physicians’ directions. You should feel free to contact them at any point post surgery and during your recovery. Keeping them informed of your concerns will allow them to address them immediately and will speed your recovery right along.

CJ Hammons is a veteran educator and entrepreneur. For Your Health and Wellness Needs, Visit Her Site

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Diigo
  • MisterWong
  • MySpace
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tagged with:

Filed under: Breast Cancer Articles

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!