Recovery Time?

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I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 weeks ago. I am due to have a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph nodes removed next week. As long as nothing is found in the lymph nodes (Fingers crossed) I'll go on to have radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

I've soooo many worries and questions. (I'm not the bravest of people). So I'm hoping that my fellow warrior sisters who are further along the road to recovery could answer some of my questions please.

How much pain will I be in post op?

I know I'll be off work but will I be able to carry on home life as normalish? (I know I'll need to rest more).

How does radiotherapy make you feel?

How does the hormone treatment make you feel?

How long will I need to take off work?

It all seems very daunting atm. I wish I could just fastforward a few months and be ringing that bell.

Love and strength to you all who are going through this.

  • Hi Jane Sue

    Welcome to the forum and I am sorry to hear that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

    You shouldn't be in too much pain after operation.  You will be given a prescription for pain killers before leaving the hospital to take should you need them

    The only things you won't be able to do when you are at home is do any heavy lifting for four to six weeks. It would be a good idea to have someone do the hoovering for you for at least four weeks.  Have some dinners in the freezer for when you don't feel like cooking.

    After the first few days of radiotherapy you may start to feel tired, and the longer it goes on the more tired you will feel.  You may have some burning of the skin the longer the radiotherapy goes on so I suggest that you use a mild cream to keep the skin moist but only apply it after each radiotherapy session as it can form a barrier if you apply it before each radiotherapy session.  Make sure that you drink plenty of water every day, they usually recommend two litres.

    Everybody reacts differently to the hormone treatment.  I find that it makes me quite tired and I sometimes get hot flushes.  I take mine at night which I find lessens the hot flushes.  Sometimes your joints ache a bit but I think that improves in time.

    It's up to yourself how much time you take off work, it could be anything from about three months to a year.  As you have cancer you are classed as having a disability so your employer can't discriminate against you.

    What you are feeling is perfectly normal but once you start your treatment things should start to feel less daunting.

    Wishing you the best of luck with the rest of your treatment.

    Best wishes


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  • Thankyou Daisy xxx

  • Hi Jane,

    Sorry you find yourself here. I am currently supporting my daughter through her treatment, diagnosis was 13 months ago.

    Chemo is different for everyone, but it's a tough slog. You will get to know when your bad days and better days through each cycle are likely to be quite quickly. Daughter's work were very supportive. She didn't take long term sick leave at that point but always took chemo day and the following day off. She did need other occasional days off too. She was lucky to be able to work from home much of the time - adding commuting in to the mix might have been a step too far.

    Daughter was very nervous about surgery but it was a lot less trouble than either of us expected.  She went into hospital at 7.00 am and I was amazed when the ward sister phoned me at 3.00pm to say she was waiting for transport home. Pain was very manageable and she had a week off work. No problems at all.

    Radiotherapy, on the other hand, hadn't worried her at all. But she found it very challenging. The commute into London daily was tiring and, even by the end of week one, total exhaustion was setting in. She had 15 sessions and, for the first time in the entire process, had to be signed off work at the end ofvthe second week. She also had far more unpleasant skin reaction to the radio than she had expected. She had the final week of radio off work, then two weeks after that.

    A month on, she's back on chemo and back at work. Some days she manages a full day at work.but not every day. But she has coped amazingly well with all off it and I'm sure you will too.

    Sending you strength, very best wishes and a hug. 

  • Hi Jane Sue. Sorry to hear your news. I am one week post op after having the same operation that you are due to have including a licap flap where they move tissue from my side to replace what they have taken out. The first couple of days I tired quickly but I think that was more to do with the general anesthetic. I have been quite swollen and sore but not in too much pain. Nothing more than paracetamol/ibuprofen needed. It's mainly when trying to sleep I'm uncomfortable but each day it's improving. This first week I've forced myself to rest but I've managed unloading the dishwasher/changing bedding etc. As for the radiotherapy & tablets I'm guessing I will be told more at my 3 week post op appointment. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask anymore questions. Kerry x

  • Hi Jane I’m 10 days post op not really painful but sore under my arms I liken it to sunburn a cool soft rolled piece of Material helps me with that (I use rolled soft t shirt your body needs to repair so chill on the bed as much as possible I slept a bit here and there as well as the night got my energy back and of the bed about 8 days wear a good supportive post op bra if you can try Temu on the web that have adjustable sides to stop it rubbing under or near your under arms as they will be sensitive put pillars like armchairs either side to keep your armpits away from you body  that’s all the advice I can give for now as waiting for my results hugs you can do this x

  • I had the exact treatment as yourself though it was in 2017. Post op pain I found to be painful and uncomfortable but I had to return to theatre due to a haematoma and was kept in for 3 days. You are provided with pain relief and was given special bras to wear for support.

    as for the radiotherapy, that was fine, I attended for 3 weeks, the give you creams for the breast area, I felt bit fatigued.

    I was started on tamoxifen but a year later changed to Letrozole. 

    One thing I am now or have issues with is the rib cage/ breast bone has been weakened due to the radiotherapy but you are given regular bone scans to check for osteoporosis but I don’t want you worrying about any of it, we all do even after all these years and everyone different. 

  • Hello Jane

    I'm following this with interest. I have my lumpectomy and sentinel nodes removed  Tuesday.  The stress and anxiety is immense.  I've been feeling nauseous most days since cancer confirmed, so tired during the day and disturbed sleep at night. Wishing you well for your surgery

  • Hi,

    I had the same op 6 Oct last year. I am self employed and took a week off and then worked from bed. I don’t remember much pain from this operation at all. 
    you will be fine, you’re stronger than you think and you’ve got this Heart

  • Your daughter sounds like an amazing lady. Hearing how well she has coped is inspiring. 

    You must be so proud of her. I can't imagine how hard it must be as a Mum to watch your daughter go through this.

    Sending love and continued strength to you both.

  • Thankyou for your kind words and positively.

    This thing is a bugger but I will win! 

    Hoping that all is now good with you and that you are now enjoying good health.