Advice please re coping with mastectomy, tips etc. Surgery 16th November

  • 7 replies
  • 258 subscribers

Hello everyone 

I had diagnosis last Friday of papillary in situ right breast. For a number of reasons, including that I’m age 81 so no wish to preserve breast and wanted to avoid possibility of radiation, it’s been agreed best option is a mastectomy and they’re going to do both sides mainly for symmetry. Surgery booked for 16th November. Know surgery will be longer than lumpectomy and recovery more difficult but I’m happy with this decision.

However, any advice at all would be greatly appreciated please - what take into hospital (only in for day), clothes, etc., how cope with drainage tubes, avoid fluid buildup, ways reduce chances of seroma, exercises, etc., etc.

Look forward to hopefully receiving some helpful advice.

  • So sorry to hear you going through all this big hugs xx

    i only had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy last week so not the best position to advise - but  wore comfy soft clothes and my top was one i could zip up so I didn’t have to put it over my head and slip on trainers.

    wishing you all the best



  • I suggest some button up blouses/ tops in the early days. Button up night shirts too. Some elasticated loose fit trousers. Easy slip on shoes for going home. Cardigans rather than jumpers. I had single mastectomy and radiotherapy ( June and August). I’m still recovering, very tight underarm and across chest. I have been very good by doing the exercises provided by the hospital twice a day and started swimming today. I don’t know if I’m unusual taking so long to get rid of the tightness - it drives me crazy - but I refuse to give in. I’ll keep trying. You’ll have good and bad days so important to stay positive and don’t feel guilty about asking for help. See this as a short term blip. Hope it goes well. X

  • Hi I was just in my 70s when I had a double mastectomy and a couple of nodes tested. It was during covid and followed chemotherapy and Herceptin injections. Although an NHS patient I was operated on in a private hospital. It was fine. I stayed  one or 2  nights. Any pain was dealt with before it became bad, initially by oral morph and then paracetamol. If you have pain ask for oral morph. I have a scar going from one armpit to the other, with a couple of dog tags of skin in the middle. I did not have any drains, the surgeon said before the operation they wouldn't be necessary and they weren't. On the second day, I had a physiotherapist visit to go through exercises and I also had online (zoom) physio, weekly for about 6 sessions. The online sessions might have been a bonus of being put through the private hospital. They were very helpful. I did the exercises religiously and had no problems.  I bought a small soft pillow that had a pocket for a cold pack and tucked this under my arm where the nodes were removed. I still have the pillow and love it. A curved, supportive pillow for sleeping is good because you have to lie on your back initially. I was advised to get a patterned front buttoning blouse to wear going home. I took it very easy after my operation and was lucky to have a family to support me. I hope you have too. At the start of my cancer journey, I treated myself to a silk sheet and pillowcases. They did make me feel special. I was given a set of prostheses a few weeks later. I don't wear them much preferring to drape a light silk scarf around my neck instead. A very kind person gave me a swimming suit and a prosthesis suitable for swimming. I do wear them for swimming. I would also recommend knitted knocker prostheses as these are very light. It would be nice to be able to buy clothes with built-in breast forms but I haven't found any in the UK.

    Sorry I have rambled on, wishing you all the very best and a speedy recovery xxx

  • Thanks so much to you all for your very helpful replies. I’ve ordered some front opening tops online. Rozalia, you mentioned a small pillow with a pocket for cold pack. I’m also having nodes removed but not sure where to find a pillow like that, did you find it online?

    I’m worried about Seroma, is it exercises that help avoid it? or anything else?

    My surgery for bilateral mastectomy and Sentinel node biopsy is in the afternoon (arrive hospital 11 a.m.), but it’s a day case, going home same day. I’m lucky that my daughter, who’s a nurse will be picking me up, but I’m still worried about going home the same day. Has anyone else experienced that? How did you cope with journey home and when you got home?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  • I wish you all the very best and for me the journey home was uncomfortable- pillow under arm helped.get your daughter to drive slow and brace yourself when the car turns as that was what was worse for me in the car.

    you will still be under the effects of the meds etc so think that helps a bit.

  • Thank you so much Dizzydoo and Rozalia,

    Such practical, helpful advice. I’ve ordered two pillows and a seat belt cover which will hopefully arrive tomorrow