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Sun Aug 28, 2016, 10:43 AM

This mastectomy thing is a breeze!

Was that too flippant?

It's just that I read that I would be laid up in bed for weeks. In reality, I have minimal discomfort -- just some soreness under my arm -- and I feel pretty good. I spent one night in the hospital; I even took a walk around the floor before bed. The Hubster brought me a Dunkin' Coolatta when he returned in the evening. I finished my IV fluids, they removed all my monitors, and I felt liberated.
In the morning my surgeon visited, told me it all went well, said I could shower the next day. We went home at 10 AM, and I had a relaxing day. Easy leftover dinner, and a super-silly movie, "Keanu," with Key and Peele. Great night's sleep, just had to be careful when I moved.
Today I shower, send Eric to the market (always good for a laugh), and just relax ( shhh online shopping shhh). We have frozen tortellini to cook tonight with salad and bread. I'll stay home until my follow-up visit Thursday.

Happy to be one step closer to the finish line!

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Reply This mastectomy thing is a breeze! (Original post)
PennyK Aug 2016 OP
moonscape Aug 2016 #1
alfredo Aug 2016 #2
Solly Mack Aug 2016 #3
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2016 #4
PennyK Aug 2016 #5
Ms. Toad Aug 2016 #6
PennyK Aug 2016 #7
shrike Aug 2016 #8
PennyK Aug 2016 #9
PennyK Sep 2016 #10
Ms. Toad Sep 2016 #11
PennyK Sep 2016 #14
Ms. Toad Sep 2016 #18
PennyK Sep 2016 #20
PennyK Sep 2016 #12
PennyK Sep 2016 #13
PennyK Sep 2016 #15
PennyK Sep 2016 #16
PennyK Sep 2016 #17
PennyK Sep 2016 #19
PennyK Sep 2016 #21
PennyK Sep 2016 #22
PennyK Sep 2016 #23
PennyK Oct 2016 #24
PennyK Oct 2016 #25
PennyK Oct 2016 #26
slipslidingaway Oct 2016 #27
PennyK Oct 2016 #28
Ms. Toad Oct 2016 #29
PennyK Oct 2016 #30
PennyK Oct 2016 #31
PennyK Oct 2016 #32
PennyK Oct 2016 #33
PennyK Oct 2016 #34
PennyK Nov 2016 #35
PennyK Nov 2016 #36

Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 12:01 PM

1. Yeah! Great to hear everything has gone well. Soon -

cancer will be just a memory

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 02:40 PM

2. So good to hear. Keep your spirits up, and your Hubster busy. :)

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 04:13 PM

3. You've a great attitude and that is wonderful!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Aug 29, 2016, 06:17 PM

4. What are ya using for pain management?

I had morphine while in the hospital for 30 hours, then a moderate dose script for Hydrocodone, strong enough to cut most of the pain.

Could not sleep on my favorite side, tho, for about a week.
Now, at 6 weeks out, I feel bruised and sore, and really am not getting used to feeling numb in other areas of my left side and around to the armpit.

Between the mastectomy on the left side and the port placement last Monday, ( again I was out for the count for that one) I am really glad I am not gonna be wearing any kind of bra, I can get my with a longish dangling scarf in front.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 29, 2016, 07:39 PM

5. I'm actually not in pain

They gave me 5 mg 'codones in the hospital, but they weren't obsessive about it. I have a bottle of them to use, but I don't really need them...or anything. Yes, sleeping is awkward, but I've had my share of alternate sleeping positions, thanks to extreme acid indigestion from chemo. I can sleep on my back with a couple of pillows to elevate my upper half a bit.
I'm retired and I don't really have to do anything I don't want to, so I have it very easy. My activities consist of preparing simple dinners, sitting in front of my desktop computer, and sewing while watching TV.
I called the surgeon and got the OK to go out tomorrow, so I will have to deal with dressing for the public (or Publix in my case lol). Pulled out a bunch of bras to see what will work with the little puff form I bought...I have a few with some moderate lining, and I think I can make it work.
Biggest annoyance is the drain, but I figured out an easy way to handle it in the shower. I grabbed a length of elastic, tied it loosely around my neck, and safety-pinned the drain bottle to it. Voila! And I was able to get that last sticky bandage off once it was wet enough.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Aug 29, 2016, 08:45 PM

6. Glad it went well!

You seem to have come through it the same way my mother got through her second one! (Her first one was more like you expected this one woudl be.) We stopped at Bob Evans for lunch on the way home from the hospital just becuase she felt like it.

Hope your journey keeps getting easier!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Aug 29, 2016, 10:53 PM

7. I feel great, but...

It's definitely strange to look at myself as I am now. I will have to wait for reconstruction (which I'm definitely having), because I will be on blood thinners until my port comes out in a year, and my plastic surgeon wants to wait until then.
I can see that even with a soft bra and a fiberfill form in it, looser tops, and probably with sleeves, will be my best bets. Once I get my drain removed and everything heals, I can look into a better booblet...they sell weighted ones, and bras with pockets to hold it...or I can sew in a tricot pocket or strap myself.
One thing I didn't mention is that unlike most women, I hated my breasts for most of my life. I developed early, and they were big, too big for my happiness. I had always felt that they were the first thing anyone who looked at me saw, and I was sick of feeling that way...which is why I had reduction two years ago. I was wearing a 40D minimizer, and after reduction, I was 38B. So, maybe, it wasn't as hard for me to lose one like this as it would be for most women...but the hollow between my armpit and the breast area looks scary. I wasn't expecting that. Just looking at myself, and seeing nothing there, is very, very strange. As strange as having a skimpy crewcut has been for the past five months.
I WILL get used to it, and I will be fine.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue Aug 30, 2016, 12:57 PM

8. I, too, was surprised at how quickly I bounced back


Every woman is different. I could shower and wash my hair. I was even stacking dishes and wiping counters. Glad you're feeling okay.

Did you have reconstruction? I'm told women who don't actually have a faster healing time.

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Response to shrike (Reply #8)

Tue Aug 30, 2016, 10:24 PM

9. Not yet

As I said above, I won't have the reconstruction until next year.

I went out shopping today and had fun just being out for the first time in five days (except for the hospital). Picked up a menu for an Italian restaurant that has rave reviews -- we're going to try them tomorrow night. Got a bagel at the new bagel place down the block, and created a work of art for dinner, with lox, Muenster cheese, onion, cream cheese and butter. Oh yeah!

I see my surgeon on Thursday, and I'm pretty sure I'm "exuding" too much for the drain to come out yet, but I am going to ask about genomic testing re: radiology and many other things.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Sep 1, 2016, 10:29 PM

10. Hey hey hey

Got the results of the biopsy today: NO residual tumor. I'm clean!
Now I wait a week to get my drain out, and then start up with the radiologist (and get started on my year of Herceptin).

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Response to PennyK (Reply #10)

Sun Sep 4, 2016, 10:34 PM

11. Yay!

Hope your radiation goes as well as mine did!

I'm surprised they are doing radiation - I was told if I had a partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) I would need radiation - but if I went for a full mastectomy they would not do radiation. (I seriously debated a full mastectomy, just to avoid the radiation.)

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #11)

Tue Sep 13, 2016, 06:00 PM

14. I found the answer.

if the tumor was larger than 5 cm, radiation is advised.
Mine was 7.5.

Oh well, I'll just be an expert on one more thing.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #14)

Sat Sep 17, 2016, 10:25 AM

18. Ah. All sorts of variables in the mix.

Mine was only 1.3 cm. (They expected from the MRI for it to be at least 2.1 cm, so that was a pleasant surprise.)

Good luck.

Use "My Girls" cream. It has calendula in it, which has been demonstrated to minimize skin damage - and this brand had better reviews than others I found.

The Makemerry bra from Ana-Ono is designed by a radiologist (the niece of a friend of mine) specifically for radiation treatment to minimize irritation. Many women skip bras altogether, or wear a T-shirt inside of a bra or camisole to avoid irritation from the seams of the clothing. I didn't have to. It is, unfortunately, a lot pricier than I am used to - but I decided I could splurge on one.

I also used circumin (turmeric). There is some controversy, but the information on the Mayo site about it convinced my doctor that it probably was ok. (The radiation creates a very small risk of a very aggressive cancer. The circumin facilitates DNA repair in normal tissue - so it is less likely to develop this cancer, but seems to also make the radiation more effective at killing cancer cells (that's where the controversy is - it is an anti-oxidant, and those are normally contraindicated with radiation because they are usually thought of as also helping the cancer cells beat radiation). Circumin has also been found to minimize skin damage.)

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #18)

Sun Sep 18, 2016, 07:19 PM

20. Thank you

The undies look very nice! yes, expensive. I'll decide after I see my radiology guy this week. And thanks for the tips on the cream and nutritionals.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Sep 7, 2016, 01:42 PM

12. Something new in my mix

I've been experiencing shortness of breath for oh, maybe a month or so. It's complicated, but the basics are that I was a long-term smoker and that my PET scan back in March did show some emphysema (I had never shown any symptoms).
I had an infection about two months ago and serious sore throat...I was prescribed a Z-pack and there was no follow-up.
A month ago, the shortness of breath slowly started happening. I went to an Urgent Care facility, the medic said it sounded like bronchitis, and he gave me another Z-pack and an inhaler. Over the next weeks, the shortness became worse and much more frequent. I was using the inhaler more often than I was supposed to, and I wasn't getting as much relief.
I finally saw a pulmonologist yesterday. She ordered a X-ray, and a pulmonary function test (in a few weeks, when I'm more healed up), and gave me Symbicort and an emergency inhaler. The Symbicort is really good, really makes a huge difference.
Until we see what's going on in there, it's a mystery as to whether it's emphysema, bronchitis, or who-the-hell-knows. It feels like a giant congestion in there to me.
My doctor said that even though chemo for breast cancer isn't specifically known to damage the lungs, it does take a toll on everything.
Meanwhile, I see my surgeon tomorrow, and I think I'm finally getting my frikkin' drain out!!!!! I'm planning a party night, what with BBC America celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek LOL. Did you know the Post Office just issued stamps in its honor? LLAP!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat Sep 10, 2016, 01:05 AM

13. Now I've got a big old Ace bandage around my chest

It's supposed to stay there for a week. Me, who never wears a bra around the house.
next week I meet with my oncologist about switching from Lovenox to Coumadin, a financial difference of $375 to around $4 monthly. That will help pay for the Symbicort.
Food is getting yummier, and my digestion is getting back to normal.
I even had to pull out my Tweezerman and close-up mirror! But the head is still fairly barren.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Sep 14, 2016, 10:46 PM

15. Back to my surgeon tomorrow

PLEASE let him tell me I don't have to wear this Ace bandage any longer! It's driving me nuts, and it's flattening my good boobie out! I want to get started on sewing and adjusting things to wear, but I can't with this piece of stretchy yuck around me.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Sep 15, 2016, 05:19 PM

16. One more day

Doctor had to remove some fluid from the area, but I can take off the Ace tomorrow. Huzzah! That will help with my breathing. And unless more fluid collects I don't need to see him for three months. Oohhh yes.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2016, 02:02 PM

17. I'm FREE

I went out to the market today, by myself. Three weeks since my surgery, I finally got to put on a genie bra with my little foamie. Got into my car (I actually forgot the seat belt and got beeped). Cruised the aisles at Publix and treated myself to a half-gallon of Publix White Christmas Ice Cream. SO nice to be able to do something normal! I definitely need a better fake boobie - this thing is like a big puffy cushion, but it was cheap and just to use while I'm still healing.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun Sep 18, 2016, 03:30 PM

19. BEST garment so far

The Genie bra is good, but if there's no boobie attached to you the bra tends to ride up on that side. Well, Genie also makes the Cami-Shaper. It's like a shapewear camisole (which I've used in the past), but with inner side openings that go to a pocket over each breast. Supposed to hold the "modesty forms" that are included, but a boobie form fits in there beautifully...plus you look slim and trim PLUS it doesn't ride up!
I'll be going out to the mall in a little bit, and it's hot out there (Florida), but I have high hopes that this baby is going to work.
Returning some $$$ mastectomy bras that were really uncomfortable, and then to Pizza Gallery for dinner!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Sep 22, 2016, 10:37 PM

21. Things are proceeding apace

Next Monday I go for my first Herceptin treatment. I understand the first one is given slowly so they can watch for reactions (just like with chemo). I read that you can develop flu-like symptoms, so Tylenol can be recommended.

On Wednesday I go to the radiologist's other office for my prep appointment. I think they take an X-ray and do various measurements. It's near a big shopping area, and afterward, I'm making the Hubster take me to lunch at TooJays for some pseudo-Jewish deli food, and then to Jo-Ann for some sewing supplies...since Hancock's closed, I've been bereft.

I went to the small local mall today, for my first solo shopping trip since, oh, let's say February. Insane, right? i found out that I've gone down two sizes in jeans at Old Navy. From a tight 14 to a well-fitting 10! Anyway, I figure I'd better have some fun while I can, just in case I do have unpleasant side effects from the stuff to come.

Come to think of it, why are there no pleasant side effects?

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Sep 26, 2016, 02:39 PM

22. Some good news

I was told I'd need to do Herceptin for a year (started today). But they count the first six times, my chemo treatments, as being part of that! That means I'll finish in April rather than October, and that I can get to my finish line (port removal and reconstruction) a lot sooner. Very happy today.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Sep 29, 2016, 10:27 AM

23. Brief break in the action

I went for my measuring at the radiologist's yesterday; I was told that I won't hear back for about a week. So I have an empty week now, with no treatments happening. I'm eager to get the sessions over with, before my daughters come for Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, I found out that my new blood-thinner, Xarelto, will cost less than half the old one (Lovenox), so that's good.
AND there is a current water advisory in our part of Florida, so I've been boiling and/or using bottled, but I called today and found out we aren't included! Oh...that means I have to wash the pots and pans in my sink.
Most fun is that I finally received the supplies I need to make a couple of micro-bead breast forms. These forms sell for around $60 each, and the supplies (which would easily make about ten, cost me less than $30. It's insanely easy, except for working with the micro-beads...they are tiny and very static-y. It's recommended to work with them inside a bag and to use a funnel to pour them out -- and to use anti-static spray. Also, to keep the vacuum handy!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat Oct 1, 2016, 02:41 PM

24. I started my Xarelto today

Waiting to see if I get a bloody nose or anything else scary (like when I play with my cat). But happy to be done with the injectibles! Five hematomas later LOL!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Oct 5, 2016, 01:49 PM

25. So, no radiation just yet!

The hurricane is on its way here, and the medical office is in an area that had to evacuate. So, assuming there's no real damage, I guess I will start next week. We're as ready as we can be (don't have a generator), and I'm hoping we don't get hit too hard.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Oct 10, 2016, 12:11 AM

26. So apparently herceptin alone has its own side effects

Over the last week I've been experiencing pain in my right hip joint, even limping a bit at times. I looked around the 'net today and found that joint pain is definitely a thing (I thought it was happening because I haven't gone to the chiropractor in months). And my recovering taste buds have gone back downhill. Then, acid indigestion made a comeback.
I read today that when you get it alone, you get three times as much as during chemo. I'm not sure I want to be limping for seven more months...will discuss these things on my next visit.
On the bright side, I have plenty of head stubble...not sure I could really call it "hair" just yet.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Oct 12, 2016, 01:50 AM

27. Thank you for sharing your ongoing experiences ...

it not only is a record of what you are experiencing but will be helpful to those reading in the future.

Just take it step by step, there will be ups and downs, having a positive attitude helps!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri Oct 14, 2016, 10:47 AM

28. I just started radiation

I will be getting about 30 treatments, and I was told that I wouldn't begin to experience any irritation in the area for at least two weeks. So I figured that I would save my "good" cream (My Girls calendula, kindly gifted to me by another poster here, who had extra) for a while. I need to ask the technician to show me the actual area that is being hit, as I can't tell yet...I want to use some Eucerin cream that I have left over from extreme dryness on my feet and hands toward the end of chemo.

After several nights of being wakened by bad leg cramps (from Herceptin), I started taking two Tylenol just before bed, and I've had two great nights of uninterrupted sleep. The one hip joint is still touchy during the daytime, but I can cope with that.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #28)

Sat Oct 15, 2016, 11:24 PM

29. Good Luck!

I hope things go as smoothly for you as they did for me.

They marked a "frame" on me that turned out to be virtually identical to the radiation field - so I just put the cream within the frame boundaries.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun Oct 16, 2016, 11:45 PM

30. I go for my 2nd herceptin tomorrow

I read online that many women experienced my symptom of sore legs and hip joints...some thought it could be related to the medium the drug is reconstituted in (benzyl alcohol), so I'm going to ask if it can be mixed in sterile saline instead. I can't see myself limping for the next six months...it's driving me nuts! And keeping the infusion slow also seemed to reduce the occurence. I dislike the idea of sitting there any longer than I have to, but it's worth it if I'll be able to walk.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Oct 17, 2016, 04:50 PM

31. So, I had to make a stink, but...

...my nurse agreed to use sterile saline as the diluent for my Herceptin. It means that they have to throw out the rest of that package of Herceptin, though. She checked to make sure my insurance would cover it. Yay! Hoping the leg-and-other pain thing will go away.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat Oct 22, 2016, 11:49 AM

32. Well, I got the leg cramps again

Last edited Sat Oct 22, 2016, 10:44 PM - Edit history (1)

Now I need to wait and see if it's the same as the first time I did the Herceptin or not as bad. It woke me up and thank goodness, two Tylenol took care of it. I'll go back to taking it before bed.
So I splurged and bought the Amoena camisole with built-in soft bra...it's great. Styled so nicely that I can wear it as a top. I got two more. Let's hope the fabric holds up after washing. I wanted something easy to wear for around the house/nighttime when company is here, but they're really nice!
No reaction yet from radiation, but since I found out I get lesser daily doses (and a longer time - 33 days), hopefully it won't be as bad. The tech told me the doctor does expect me to develop a skin reaction, but I'm taking vitamins and using good skin lotions (Eucerin for now, and My Girls later).

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Oct 24, 2016, 10:32 AM

33. Leg cramps at night -- ugh

I got up, felt better, took 2 Tylenol and went back to sleep.
Talked to my mother, and she suggested that Tonic water might help. Apparently, there's a whole thing about it. So I too 2 Tylenol with tonic water and stretched my legs just before bed...and woke up at 4 JUST to pee. NO LEG CRAMPS. Wowzers! Now I'm gonna have a whole routine to do before bed, like a pitcher on the mound.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Oct 27, 2016, 05:17 PM

34. Continuing treatment

I'm now 1/3 done with my 33 radiation treatments. No effects so far.
I'm applying creams (My Girls, thinned with Eucerin lotion for now) just once a day...I don't want to waste it and then not have when I really need it.
Still dealing with the cramps from the Herceptin...mainly my groin-into-my-leg, but sometimes I get one in my side when I bend or lean, or in a hand. I have 5mg Oxy, but I try not to use it too often...so every few days. Tylenol still works, and I don't want to abuse that, either.
I had switched from Lovenox to Xarelto and no changes were noted.

So, I'm just in a holding pattern for now...radiation until the end of November, Herceptin until April.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)


Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Nov 3, 2016, 05:07 PM

36. Doing well with my radiation

I've had 16 half-treatments so far. The area is a bit pinkish, and although I haven't had any pain, I was awakened in the night when I guess I rolled over onto that side...it was a soreness, like a bruise. Went right back to sleep. I'm using My Girls calendula cream and so far, so good, my radiologist says. Tomorrow I'll officially be half done...I just hope it doesn't get too bad at the end; that's when my daughters will be here for Thanksgiving. The first time I have seen them since my cancer journey began.
I guess the weakness in my leg/groin area will continue all through the Herceptin treatments. It's not awful, but makes getting around annoying...hey, it only hurts when I walk ha ha.

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