Breast Cancer Treatment Coping With A Mastectomy

Breast Cancer Treatment Coping With A Mastectomy

Breast Cancer Treatment: Coping With a​ Mastectomy
As women, especially American women, much of​ our femininity is​ centered on our breasts .​
No matter where you look, there are pictures, billboards, commercials, television shows, and​ movies with women with these beautiful breasts and​ ample cleavage .​
the​ thought 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.
I went through two separate mastectomies, for​ my breast cancer, despite the​ fact that I​ wanted them both done at​ the​ same time .​
Two different surgeons told me that wasn't necessary .​
They found out, later, that it​ was, as​ I​ had the​ same breast cancer in​ both breasts .​
Through these surgeries, I​ 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 to​ realize is​ that, apart from the​ emotional aspect of​ such an​ operation, this is​ a​ simple surgery .​
the​ breast is​ composed, mostly, of​ fatty tissue and, of​ course, milk ducts and​ lobes .​
the​ removal of​ this breast tissue is​ way easier than operating on an​ organ, but carries much more emotional impact for​ most of​ us .​
Most surgeons will get as​ much of​ the​ breast tissue out as​ they can to​ help alleviate the​ chance of​ a​ recurrence of​ your breast cancer .​
You will typically 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.
You want to​ be sure to​ take loose-fitting, button-down shirts (raiding your hubby's closet is​ helpful) with you, to​ the​ hospital, as​ you won't be able to​ raise your arms over your head for​ a​ while .​
You will also need a​ sports bra and​ I​ would 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 as​ 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 hurting.
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 aspirated with a​ needle .​
the​ drains, even though they're no fun, are better than that .​
These drains will have to​ be emptied a​ couple of​ times a​ day and​ you 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 .​
I​ pinned mine up to​ the​ sports bra and​ that way, they didn't pull when I​ moved .​

When you get home, plan on having someone there to​ help you for​ the​ first few days .​
You won't be allowed to​ reach into your cabinets and​ definitely won't be able to​ clean house or​ pick up your children, if​ you have little ones .​
You'll be sent home with pain meds and​ definitely take them if​ 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.
If you have a​ recliner, you might consider moving it​ into the​ bedroom as​ you won't be able to​ lie flat for​ a​ while .​
You'll need to​ sleep in​ a​ partial sitting position .​
if​ you don't have one, or​ don't have space for​ it​ in​ your bedroom, lots of​ pillows will work, too .​
That's what I​ used .​
Just be sure you have enough pillows to​ keep yourself comfortable 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 and​ ask for​ a​ Reach 2 Recovery volunteer .​
This is​ an​ American Cancer Society program where they try to​ match you with one of​ their volunteers who have as​ similar experience as​ you're facing .​
This woman will come visit you and​ will bring you all sorts of​ brochures and​ information on conventional treatment .​
She will also bring you a​ list of​ exercises you can start to​ do 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​ would 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 past that .​
Little by little, you'll find yourself able to​ stretch a​ little farther every couple of​ days.
Most of​ all, allow yourself to​ heal emotionally, as​ well as​ physically .​
Some of​ us just can't look at​ that incision right away .​
That's OK .​
Take as​ much time as​ you need .​
I​ know I​ felt like some kind of​ freak with no breasts and, even six years later, I​ still do sometimes .​
But remind yourself that these scars are your battle scars .​
They do not make you less of​ a​ woman .​
They make you a​ warrior.

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