My mastectomy recovery was anything except fun. Read on to hear all about it and what helped me through the difficult times.
Due to a positive biopsy for breast cancer, I went in for a complete mastectomy during the first week of January, 2019.
My whole family flew and drove up from the East coast and Texas to be with me through it all.
We said plenty of prayers the morning of the surgery and even had our church pastor and his family praying with us over the phone 30 minutes before we had to leave. My parents and husband came with me to the hospital while my sister and brother stayed at the house to help with our children.
All in all, the procedure went well and I was eager to start my mastectomy recovery. My surgeon not only ended up taking my entire breast, but also 22 lymph nodes.
They tested the lymph nodes and only one came back cancerous, which was a good sign. The tumor itself was sent to a medical lab in California where they would test the tissue to find out more information.
I later learned that test was called the Oncotype. This test, along with other factors, would determine whether or not chemotherapy would be in my future.
I don’t remember much about the evening after my surgery. I just remember the picture being taken above. I was completely out of it and trying to rid my body of all the anesthesia and drugs they gave me.
Getting enough rest, coupled with 30 minute walks around the house and low impact arm exercises filled my life for the next few days.
Every single arm and chest movement hurt and I cried as I worked through the pain. It was a tough routine, however, I was determined to get back to the way I was pre-surgery.
I was also very overwhelmed at the lymphatic test results. We were hoping that all of the lymph nodes would come back healthy, however since they found one with cancer inside, that worried me.
Part of my mastectomy recovery was removing the lidocaine pump that was attached to my chest. My husband did it for me and as he was taking it out, I had a mental breakdown. I cried and screamed like it was hurting.
I wasn’t in physical pain. I was in emotional pain. The removal of the pump symbolized plenty of things for me. It was a sign that everything I had gone through in the past with this breast (I have had issues with it since 2011) had vanished. The tumor and everything that went with it was gone.
It also symbolized what had just happened during surgery and reminded me of the long road that was ahead. Needless to say, my tears were not tears of pain, they were tears of joy mixed in with anxiety and frustration.
I cried so much that I made my sister and my mom cry with me. It was a touching moment and like my husband likes to mention,“there was wayyyy to much estrogen in the room that day.”
Taking my first shower after surgery was also a huge challenge. My arm and chest were completely numb and also very sore. I couldn’t wash my hair or for that matter, even wash my body. It took 2 other people (my mom and my sister) to help me with things.
Needless to say, my modesty went out the door during those first few showers.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, I also had two drain tubes attached to the lower part of my chest. The drains helped with removing any built up fluid at the surgery site to keep infection from occurring. They were the bane of my existence and I was so happy when they came out.
My parents came with me to the appointment when they took them out and afterwards, they took me out to lunch to celebrate! It was such a joyous occasion!
Once the drains were out, I was able to start driving again. My parents flew back to the East coast and things slowly returned to normal. I even started meeting with a lymphedema/physical therapist to work on the range of motion in my arm and chest muscles.
Day by day and step by step, I eventually started to heal, both mentally and physically. The worst felt like it was over with and my mastectomy recovery felt like it was just a bump in the road.
Life was good as we all waited to hear and prepare for the next steps in my cancer journey. Would I need chemotherapy and radiation? We would soon find out.
To listen and watch how my post-mastectomy recovery went, watch the video!!!
***Note: If you are reading this on your phone, click “Watch This Video on YouTube” to watch the video.***
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