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Bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction
Hello, I'm Mary Frances but prefer to go by Frances. This year is a whirlwind for me. 2019 I lost my job because of the pandemic. I was looking for a new job but none came to fruition. I decided to enter a new career path. I contacted my local employment office and applied for Second Career. When I was approved I was elated! The course I chose was for Online; Dental Administration Assistant. Early year I had my yearly mammogram. Both my maternal and paternal have a history of cancer. I got suspicious when I was sent back and forth to the hospital for ultrasounds, more mammograms and a biopsy. My family Dr. referred me to the Jurvinski Center in Hamilton. That's when it all happened so fast. I had another biopsy, which confirmed I had a large mass (ductile carsaloma) on my left breast. My next appt I met with my oncologist which she explained and provided options but she highly recommended to have both my breast removed. I opted with her recommendation and also to have breast reconstruction. My surgery was originally for Aug. 10th. It was cancelled because the hospital closes down on the first two weeks of August. I had another meeting with my plastic surgeon and he suggested they can squeeze me in for surgery to do a lateral mastectomy and after 1 year return for the reconstruction. I adamantly said no way I'm going to go back with breast reconstruction. I wanted both breasts removed and breast reconstruction. He said he will make it happen. After a few days; July 23rd. my surgery was scheduled for July 28th. At this point my mind was going in all directions. My course ends on August 4th I had to make arrangements for me to complete the theory studies. I completed all my exams on July 27th. I really didn't have time to absorb what was happening to me. I had the surgery; bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction. Also they took nodes from my left armpit for pathology. I am 6 weeks 4 days post op and cancer free!!! However my recovery is slow, painful, worrisome and very emotional.
Hope to hear from some of you. Thank you Frances
9 Replies
Whitelilies
1414 Posts

@Mfrances121966 Hello Frances and welcome from ON ! I am so happy to read, that you are cancer free! This is wonderful !

Please know, you have found a caring community…..we are here….eager to listen and share and support one another…..

Congrats on completing your 2nd Career Path/Studies……once your recovery is done, and you feel good once again…..you will find a job in your new field!

For many of us….once surgery/treatments are completed….we kind of feel “lost in translation” (I sure did.) We get used to appts….connecting with medical staff….that once it is said & done….we are on our own.

Please feel free…..to share your emotions here….and hopefully other members, will soon chime in, and share their thoughts as well.

Welcome Frances

Whitelilies

#welcome

brittanyc
11 Posts

@Mfrances121966

Welcome to the community, Frances! I’m glad you found us and introduced yourself. I’m happy to hear your surgery went well and you are in recovery. Congratulations to you for completing a program during your diagnosis and treatment, as well! Completing a program is difficult enough without anything else happening.


It all seems like the diagnosis and surgery happened so fast for you, I’m sure a lot of emotions and thoughts went unanswered. I think you will find a lot of people within this community who may have had similar experiences and will be able to relate to you and help you through it. Everyone here is so lovely. Is there anyone helping you out at home?
Allow me to tag @Minus2 @maggiey and @Buffythevampire who all have experience with reconstructions and may be able to help you with some tips on life after reconstruction.

Having a lot of emotions and some worry is normal – but you do not have to go through it without help. Here’s a link from cancer.ca about how to cope with your emotions, that you might find helpful! https://cancer.ca/en/living-with-cancer/coping-with-changes/your-emotions-and-cancer/coping-with-emotions
Of course, you can always reach out on one of our forums, we have many dedicated to various parts of living life with cancer.

Here is the direct link to the breast cancer forum: https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/39

And here is the direct link to our life after cancer forum: https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/80

We have a lot of resources to help you out Frances, but the best resource of all is this community. I encourage you to poke around and see what (or who!) you find that can maybe ease some worry and distract you from the pain of your recovery. I hope that your recovery gets less painful soon!


Take great care,
Brittany

#reconstruction #Breastcancer #lifeaftercancer

@Mfrances121966 I was diagnosed with triple positive IDC and chose breast reconstruction following a mastectomy on the left side only. During the first surgery (it's day surgery) I had the mastectomy with an expander placed in March 2019.The left side only, the right side was untouched for now. I had to go weekly for saline fills into the expander and it took about 2 months to get it filled to capacity. Then I went through chemo which included Herceptin, no radiation required. Once I was done treatment and enough healing time had elapsed, I had another surgery (July 2020) where my expander was removed and an silicone implant was placed and the right side was reduced/lifted. It took a while for them to look the same size and even longer to be happy with my new “look”. I was discharged from BC Cancer in October 2020. My reconstruction included a nipple reconstruction on the left side only. The origami technique performed by my Plastic Surgeon was in October 2020. The final step (Jan 2021) was a nipple/areola tattoo to add color was done by a nurse.

HI Brittany,

Thank you for your reply and the resources. I will reach out for sure. Yes, my experience was a whirlwind. I feel I am alone, I really have no support and I don't want to burden my friends and family with this. I am 6 weeks 4 days post op and basically been in my bedroom. After being discharged I thought I would be glad to be home. In some cases I am but times I wish I was back in the hospital. My surgery took pl My eace in the Jurvinski Cancer Hospital in Hamilton, Canada. I was discharged 2 days after surgery. However after being home for two days I was taken by ambulance to my local hospital. I woke up to the worst pain in my entire life on my left breast. I was taken to my local hospital and they kept me comfortable until they were able to get in touch with my surgeon. I was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital where I was examined. Nothing was found but they decided to keep in overnight. It was an great experience! I was in the ICU unit in a room with one other person. The nurses were awesome and kept me comfortable. The next day the Dr came to see me and said there is no infection but is not sure what is causing the pain. I was discharged and sent home with painkillers. Let me explain why I was in the ICU unit at HGH. HGH used to be the cancer hospital before Jurvinski Cancer Centre took over. I wasn't comfortable at Jurvinski. I was in a room with 3 other patients and nurses were overwhelmed. I was given painkillers to keep me comfortable. The rooms were cramped and dark, the bathroom was tiny, dingy and outdated. That is why I was so anxious to get out of there.
Being at home was lonely, no one understood what I was going through. I didn't reach out because I didn't feel it would do any good. I have thought of suicide twice. Don't get me wrong, I am a strong person but days I am too overwhelmed. I am trying to keep my mind busy but it is difficult for me. When the pain strikes my day is pretty much gone. I take my meds and I am asleep most of the day. I have no motivation which is not good then I get frustrated.
At home my husband works all day. We are a blended family. He has 2 kids (ages 12 and 14) and I have a son who is 13yrs. My sons helps me quite a bit. The other two are too busy in their room on their electronics. It is causing me more stress. My husband believes kids don't need to help around the house they are kids and should be allowed to play all day and all night. He doesn't discipline his kids which causes issues in our relationship. Let me explain my husbands background. He lost his wife over 10yrs ago to cervical cancer. His children were very young, his son was 4yrs old and his daughter was 2yrs old. Both he and the kids didn't go into counselling because he doesn't believe in it. His kids have plenty of issues. He wanted me to be a mother to them which I have no problem but we don't work as co-parents. I believe kids needs hugs, kisses, structure, guidance, discipline and rules. He doesn't he allows them to do whatever they like. When I intervene and scold or ground them I am belittled in front of the kids and takes away my authority.
This is a difficult time for me but I am looked upon as the bad person. Going to stop now. getting emotional.
Emgee
31 Posts

Hi Frances, I am so sorry you have been through so much. You sound like a very strong woman and a real survivor. Congratulations on completing your exams while facing other really big challenges. You are going to be an amazing asset to any dentist! I am so glad you are cancer free now!😍🤗

supersu
433 Posts

@Mfrances121966
oh my heavens….what a time you have had!
whewf---my head is spinning just reading your post.

THANK YOU for your posts; it is so helpful that we share our stories--yes, we are all in the same storm…but we are get our own boat! your post will help someone else navigating their own version of this.

congratulations on your completion of your courses - as hard as it must have been, I would imagine it was a wonderful distraction for you during the ‘hurry up and wait’ time before your surgery.

as @Emgee has said; you are simply AMAZING!
to process and deal with ONE of the blows you were handed would be exceptional, but to cope with job loss/career change/mature student demands/surprise cancer diagnosis/THREE teenage kids in the same house/advocate for your preferred surgery/surgery and ER visits/husband/COVID/etc etc etc is simply mind boggling.
please be kind to yourself.

even if your hubby and kiddo's don't ‘believe’ in some mental health support - you should not feel reluctant to reach out. who knows, they may realize how useful that kind of help is and want it for themselves….it is never too late. if you ever think about suicide again you must call 911 - please promise us that.

please let us know as you move along in your story how things are going. we are here for you, and we all ‘get it’.

cheers
su

#breastcancer #mastectomy #cancerinthefamily

elle29
595 Posts

Bonjour Mary Frances want a strong ìand confident women u are and full of hope energy to do both with cancer surgery , Have u met @ashcon she be interested having supported other women with bilateral Masechtomy . Plus our a new carrer path in stùdies too , Your Wonder Woman ! Your running a tight ship ! But remember to give your self a break and time to be pampered and hugged to heal with happy times to celebrate what u have accomplished a cer free

maggiey
15 Posts

@Mfrances121966, welcome to this amazing supportive community.

I did have reconstruction after my mastectomy. I had a DIEP flap, which my abdominal fat was used to create my breast. It's is a long healing process. I knew walking was an important part of healing, even just small walks. I remember my body feeling very heavy. And being very tired. Over time it improves! It feels like forever. You are 6 weeks post surgery, I hope your pain is getting better. I wore button up shirts until I could reach above my head. Kept up with range of movement exercises, a little every day.

What type of reconstruction did you have?

Talk soon,

Maggie

Nicky01
253 Posts

@Mfrances121966 Hi Frances, sorry to hear that you are still having pain and that your recovery is not going as fast has you would like, one good thing though is that you are reaching out for support because with this community on cancer connection you have found the right place where you will find some very caring people to help and support you while you move forward on your journey. I know having cancer is a very hard thing to go through so I am very happy for you to hear that the cancer is gone which is one less thing for you to worry about. I was devastated in March this year when my 47 year old daughter was diagnosed with the same cancer that you had, she opted for a double mastectomy as per her surgeon recommendation, so on May the 10 she underwent a double mastectomy and one week later her drainage tubes were removed and she was back at work the next day.

She opted for the reconstruction option using the skin from her breast and the placement of expanders to later get the implants because that’s what her surgeon was recommending, the surgeon did explain to her the reconstruction using the Autologous or flap reconstruction but she decided against it because it was explained to her that the healing period and the pain afterwards would be worst compare to the option she took. Is that the option you took where they use tissue from another part of your body to do the reconstruction? My daughter had her reconstruction surgery done on September 1st and 2 days later she was back at work. Her lymph nodes pathology came back negative, she will be taking tamoxifen for the next 5 years and she was told that she should not have anything to worry about for the next 9 years. Hopefully things will start getting better for you very soon, just make sure to take time for yourself and keep the faith that things will start getting better soon, if you feel comfortable to keep sharing your feelings please do so we are all here to listen and help in any way we can.

Resilience…today is a brand new day and I will make the most of it!

Nicky

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