My sister is having a mastectomy this week. Anyone know about post op recovery?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My sister has stage one cancer in one breast and "thinks" she is going to have surgery and reconstruction this week. She was told they could try a lumpectomy but as of today she thinks it's better to just get it over with instead of facing the possibility of future lumps, etc.

    I've been medically blessed so far and I don't know much about what she'll face after surgery. She does have primo surgeons and her daughter is a honcho at the hospital. Thankfully that is not a concern. on the other hand I want to be supportive from afar and am wondering how long her recovery will take, how much pain she will experience etc so my support is as sensitive as possible.

    Thanks, DDD
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    My Grandma had a radical mastectomy about 2 years ago.

    This is secondhand, since my Dad was there, but:

    Changing the dressings is very very very important. It isn't as icky gross as most people assume.

    If they give her Vicodin - use sparingly. Unless she is used to it, it can build up and make her throw up, which will HURT LIKE HADES.

    Basically, if you're being supportive from afar - ask how she's feeling and then LISTEN. Honestly, I know you're good at it! Just having a woman to talk to will help.

  3. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I'm sorry to hear about your sister D3 - I think you could FB Margurite and ask her. I believe she could be a wealth of information in this situation.
  4. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    I don't know much about post op recovery but I think getting in touch with Marg, as Star suggested, is great advice.

    I'm sorry your sister has to go through this. Keeping her in my prayers... Hugs... SFR
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Depending upon the severity of the surgery, she'll have tube drainage, bandage changing, and pain killers. It also depends upon how many lymph nodes are taken (the fewer, the better) and where the incision is. That last one I saw was directly below the breastline, in a straight horizontal line. But surgeons differ.

    Do you happen to know the name of the type of cancer she has? "Just getting it overwith" is not a good plan, in my humble opinion. Most doctors won't do a total mastectomy if it is intraductal cribriform, for ex. (Although I know a woman who opted for it, on both sides, and I'm still scratching my head.)

    Anyway, best of luck to her.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input. I don't know anything specific other than stage #1. But...her daughter is not just an RN. She has worked Oncology for years and is now a patient advocate for the hospital group with nine to twelve hospitals under her wing. My sister will have the best experienced surgeons with compassionate personalities. No doubt about that.

    She is six years older than I so she is 78....and absolutely sharp as a tack. Was a full time teacher up until two years ago, lol, and a dynamic personality. I'm not concerned about her care. Of course, I am so sorry she has to face this challenge.

    I won't be "there" with her but she has good family support. I'm just wondering how long average recovery lasts so I can be sensitive to her needs. I am a good listener and will be available by phone most of the time.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Stage 1 is a good thing. :)

    I'd say the first two days, don't call. Let her sleep.
    Send flowers or food after that.
    I had visitors starting the 3rd day, and by the 2nd wk the only problem was that my adrenaline level would go up and I'd want to get up and get iced tea or whatever, and then I'd be exhausted when they left. So if you visit, be sure to either bring your own drink, or know your way around the kitchen well enough to not be a PITA. :)

    No one knew what to do when I had my surgery, so I told them to send chocolate. Boy, did they ever! I'm still trying to lose those extra pounds, and that was 4 yrs ago. ;)
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Terry. My sister has always been high energy in a positive way. She is happy with six hours sleep and always keeps busy. Reading your post it sounds like in a couple of weeks she will be up and about at least on a limited basis. I'll just go with the flow and won't be visiting as we only get together a couple of times a year. I had a workplace friend years ago and I "thought" I remembered her coming back to work in about three weeks on a parttime basis.

    I'm assuming she will be fine and appreciate all the support from my CD family. Hugs DDD
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, I had a masectomy in 1996, so the operations are probably even better now. I had Stage 0 cancer (no lump node involvement) and was urged to have a lumpectomy since it had not spread anywhere at all, but I knew myself and asked for a masectomy. I knew I'd be forever looking for lumps and I just wanted it off. I had a simple masectomy with a few lymph nodes removed, just in case, and three days later I was vacumming the floor with my other arm. I felt too good to just sit or lay around. I didn't have any drains and didn't even need medications beyond Ibprofen after the first day. I didn't have any radiation or chemo either since they found it so early so, all in all, it was very easy. Since then, crossing fingers because you never know the future, the other breast has been ok.

    I know people who had more advanced cancer that had a much harder time and did need drains and dressing, and maybe my experience was unusual, but I wanted to share and to be encouraging. I'm not sure how stage 1 is different from stage 0.

    Hope this was helpful!
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Thanks, MWM. I'm hoping it is close to that easy for her. She is not good at "doing nothing". Me, on the other hand, I can veg for as long as possible (of course I've been healthy as a horse so far). She didn't want radiation and worries about recurrence.
  11. bby31288

    bby31288 Active Member

    My aunt just had a left mastectomy February 6. She had invasive ductal carcinoma. She stayed less than 24 hrs. Stage 1, grade 3. No lymph nodes involved. She came home with 1 JP drain. We had to empty and record until she went back to the dr. February 15. They removed the drain then. She did not have reconstruction. She is 69. She did amazing. Was up and walking on Feb 7. Felt great. The worst part for her was she couldn't shower. ANDDDD the entire house hold came down with Norovirus starting Feb 7 (the day after) so she was hiding in her room. We just saw her oncologist and they are doing a special test, called ONCA test. That will decide if she needs chemo or not. Her cancer showed up in 1 year. December 2010 she had a mamo. it was fine. December 2011 she had 4 tumors, 3 of which were cancer. The ONCA test if you are 18 and under, not chemo, 28 and up yes Chemo, between that, it is a decision she will need to make. Her grade 3, stage 1, she will only need 4 chemo treatments in a 10 week period. It was also estrogen receptive so she will be on Tamoxifin (sp) or something like that for the next 5 years, chemo or not.

    I am so proud of her. She did amazing!!!
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    When is the surgery scheduled? How is your sister?
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My sister has not had the surgery yet. I did a separate thread about the stupid reason for the delay. Grrr!
    It should be next week but no set time and day yet since the surgeons had to delete her from today's schedule. She's hoping to get it over with Tuesday but it may be at the end of the week. Thanks for asking.

    I expect she will do well. She has a high pain tolerance (not me), she finds medical procedures fascinating (not me) and she is high energy (not me). LOL! At 78 she does have a couple of other medical issues that conceivably could result in problems. on the other hand she never delays MD appts (not me), always takes every medication til the bottle is empty (not me) etc. Gee, can you tell that we are opposites..LOL!

    What we have in common is our shared life, being "just do it" personalities, and our fervent prayer that whenever our time is up that it occurs PDQ. DDD