- Referral to the Breast Clinic
- Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Cancer Surgery
Results and 1 week post op
Feeling pretty woozy but not in pain immediately post op. I daren't look down - not entirely sure what to expect, so rather not look. Managed a few hours sleep the first night but sounds of the patients buzzing the nurse and the cries of a woman giving birth in the opposite building are not conducive. Looking forward to going home.
My consultant, Giles (I think I can call him that now we're Bosom Buddies?), breezes in early the next morning. The procedure went very well and he is confident that all the tissue was removed. I venture a look at my chest - there is a mound covered with what looks like duct tape on and a drain inserted in my side. It doesn't look too alarming but I make a mental note not to look too hard. The physio rushes in later and asks if I have read the exercise leaflet and whether it made sense because she didn't think it was very clear. I nod and wondered whether I had missed something on the simple ten step programme. She runs through the pictures rapidly demonstrating the moves, wishes me luck and is gone in under two minutes. My mum and I exchanged bemused looks. Jan arrives bearing what can only be described as ‘Chunky’ bras which I will need to wear day and night for the next six months - I sigh and mentally consign my pretty lace underwired bras to the lingerie shop in the sky.
My blood pressure is low but eventually levels are restored later in the day and my drain removed (eye watering) so I can go home. My husband looks concerned - are you sure you don't want to stay in longer? No, hospital is for sick people. I sleep marvellously that night, fuelled by paracetamol and ibuprofen. I had wondered whether these painkillers would be strong enough but they are more than ample and everything is very bearable. The rest of the week is a mixture of pottering about and watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad - I have gone off my usual guilty pleasure of Holby City, especially since Chrissie has been diagnosed with breast cancer - it's eerily too close to home. I may get cabin fever soon. I start my exercises but fail at the first hurdle - the warm up shoulder shrug is too painful. I stock up on paracetamol and try more successfully in half an hour. I religiously complete my exercises twice a day feeling very virtuous. I catnap during the day but don’t sleep well at night as moving is painful.
Results day at the clinic. This is a big hurdle. Clear nodes, not invasive. My husband, Mum and I do a messy hug - we're all a bit shaky. I get the impression Giles wants to say more and that it's not quite the end of the message. The pathology of the removed tissue showed the breast was full of DCIS and micro-invasion would probably have started in a couple of months. We had got there just in time. Giles is confident the operation was the right thing to do. It is good to have the rationale confirmed even if it feels a bit late to do anything if it wasn't the right decision! He tells me the cancer tested oestrogen positive. This leads on to a discussion about prevention. The options are Tamoxifen for five years, mastectomy or do nothing. I'm finding it slightly hard to concentrate but receive the message loud and clear that the journey isn't finished yet. Giles brings the conversation to a close helpfully. "You've been on a rapid journey from 0-60mph in a very short space of time. You don't need to make a decision right away - take time now to absorb the good news and very positive prognosis".
Outside, my mum and I hug and finally allow ourselves a good cry whilst my husband fetches the car. We have a celebratory coffee and cake in the expensive Italian cafe. I'm relieved beyond belief and so thankful, if shocked, that I seem to have escaped that other level I hadn't wanted to think about. I push the thought that I still have decisions to make and further treatment to complete to the back of my mind and try and focus on being in the moment. My cake is stale and I ask the waitress for another - "that's my girl!" my husband says approvingly, clearly relieved I'm returning to myself. Later my husband and I go for a long walk in the park - the autumnal beauty is not lost on me. The desire to live is powerful. My husband is starting to absorb the news - he hadn't acknowledged his feelings since my diagnosis and hadn't considered any outcomes other than it couldn't be cancer. The sense of what could have been is my overwhelming emotion and how lucky I have been. Any worries about my mastectomy and physical appearance are still secondary at this moment.