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I have to have a mastectomy……

(72 Posts)
Mcm5 Mon 04-Sep-23 13:11:05

I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and have now just learned that I have to have a mastectomy (one breast).
I am finding this very difficult to process at the moment and I wonder how other Gransnetters have dealt with this….
I am 78 years old and I don’t relish the idea of a 6-8 hour operation for reconstruction -
and having somewhat sagging breasts now, I don’t think my remaining one will be “matched” too well!
I think I prefer the thought of a prosthetic but it is such early days and my head is all over the place.
I would really appreciate hearing others thoughts and experiences.

Smileless2012 Mon 04-Sep-23 13:12:46

I have no experience of this Mcm but wanted to say how sorry I am that you are having to deal with this and wish you all the best flowers.

Shelflife Mon 04-Sep-23 13:35:19

Mcm5, what a shock for you . I was so sad reading your post. Like Smileless I have no advice / experience to offer you. I hope your consultant can point you in the right direction regarding your options after surgery. Not surprised you are having difficulty processing this news, can only imagine how you feel. Do hope you have family/ friends to ' hold your hand ' at this very distressing time.
Sending you (((( hugs)))) and good wishes for your future.
Keep posting, I am sure there will be lovely people on GN who can support you through this. 💐💐💐💐

Primrose53 Mon 04-Sep-23 13:53:25

My SIL had a double mastectomy and decided against a reconstruction. My niece (her daughter) had the same but has had reconstruction and is happy with that.

I guess for you, as it is one only then you need to feel”balanced”. Good luck and take care.

Doodledog Mon 04-Sep-23 13:56:18

Like Smileless I have no experience of this, fortunately, but didn't want to read and run. I wish you all the best for a successful recovery. flowers

ParlorGames Mon 04-Sep-23 13:56:43

I have no experience either Mcm5 but I could not pass by without wishing you all the very best and a speedy recovery from whatever you decide to go ahead with flowers

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 04-Sep-23 14:08:53

I have no experience either but wanted to send you my very best wishes. I think I would want to feel balanced as Primrose says, but we are all different. I hope you have a speedy recovery. 💐

Wheniwasyourage Mon 04-Sep-23 14:12:01

Sorry to hear that, Mcm5. I have no advice I can give you either, but I wanted to send you very best wishes. flowers

growstuff Mon 04-Sep-23 14:13:05

I had a lumpectomy last year. I was originally advised to have a mastectomy because I had two cancers in the same breast. Like you, I couldn't process it all, changed surgeon and had a lumpectomy instead. My operated breast is now much smaller and harder and still discoloured after a year. I still haven't worked out how to "pad" my operated breast to look the same as the other one, when I'm wearing something quite tight-fitting. I've only just reconciled myself to looking at myself naked in a mirror. I know it's not quite a mastectomy, but I wanted you to know that I can empathise with how you're feeling. I've persuade myself that the rest of me still doesn't look too bad and, at least, I'm still alive and hoping for a good few years yet.

Incidentally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's possible you won't be offered a reconstruction. I was assessed for one, but in the end, it was refused because I'm diabetic and it was reckoned that the risk of infection and/or rejection was too high. It freaked me out at the time.

After a year, I've learnt to live with it. My advice would be to use any support which is offered. Is there a "Maggies" at your hospital? There are other women who are going through exactly what you are. My breast cancer nurses were wonderful. They were used to shouting, screaming and crying and I was lucky that I could always contact them.

Whatever happens, I wish you well. You wouldn't be human if you weren't upset and worried. Let us know how it goes. flowers

grannydarkhair Mon 04-Sep-23 14:14:55

I’m another with no personal experience, but wish you all the best for whatever you decide to do 💐

Hetty58 Mon 04-Sep-23 14:16:46

I do hope you can talk through the options with somebody. We're all different, but at my age (nearly seventy) I wouldn't be interested in reconstruction. I'm small busted anyway but the shape has gone, so there's not much there without a bra.

Septimia Mon 04-Sep-23 14:54:17

No personal experience, but I have a friend who had a mastectomy about 20 years ago. No reconstruction, just a prosthetic which she seldom wears, especially indoors.

The important thing is that she is still alive and healthy. I’d suggest focussing on that aspect and take the physical appearance part one step at a time. You can live with that.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 04-Sep-23 15:01:05

Wishing you all the best MCM5💐

MissMarpleknows Mon 04-Sep-23 15:20:50

Hello Mcm5, I, too, have had a mastectomy. Mine was in December 2021. I was 75yrs at the time & very apprehensive indeed. Many Gransnetters held my hand metaphorically. I am/was full busted and had no reconstruction. I’d had breast cancer 15yrs earlier so the second time a mastectomy was the best route for me. It’s natural that you’ll be anxious. Put your trust in your doctor & the medical team & have confidence in their expertise. I was in overnight & was discharged in the afternoon of the day after my surgery. I think this was to facilitate the visits of the breast care team who wanted to give me various pieces of information & also check that I was fit to go home. About 2 months later I was called to a meeting with a breast care assistant who fitted me up with a bra, an ‘every day’ prosthesis, & a prosthesis especially for use with a swimsuit.
They’ve been a good match for my other breast & I’ve had no difficulty with them at all. Please private message me if you’d like to ask any further questions. All the best to you 💐

NeatNeat Mon 04-Sep-23 15:28:21

I’m 50 and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February this year. After 2 failed lumpectomies I had a skin saving mastectomy in May. They removed my breast tissue but kept the skin and inserted an expander. The operation was approximately 1.5 hours. I was flat on one side. Every 2 weeks or so I went to the hospital and they told injected 50mls of saline into my expander ( think of it like an empty implant). I now have 300mls of fluid in my left breast and a full cleavage of my own skin. Next year when the skin has stretched enough I will have a quick operation to remove the expander and put an implant in ( probably take about an hour) . Would this be something you could consider/ask about?
There’s a lot to get your head around so make sure you take you time, ask lots of questions and discuss all your options. The hospital gave me a very detailed booklet with all the different options in including photos which I found helpful as to what I’d look like. X

Sardinia2020 Mon 04-Sep-23 15:49:55

I also had the expander in at the same time as they did the nipple sparing mastectomy. It was day surgery. I then had the second operation to remove the expander only 3 months later. They replaced the expander with an implant and at the same time they put a small implant in the other side. My breasts were fairly small before and saggy. This was also done via day surgery. They look a lot better than before. I would definitely have this done again.

Primrose53 Mon 04-Sep-23 16:04:03

A lady I know was the first person to have nipples tattooed on her reconstructed breasts. Her surgeon asked if they could use her story and photos (without face) in medical journals and she agreed. They look fantastic.

Sparklefizz Mon 04-Sep-23 16:06:23

I'm so sorry to hear your news, Mcm5 . I know it's a shock and a lot to take in.

I had a single mastectomy in 1998 when I was 50 and have not had reconstruction.

In those days it was recommended to wait 9 months before reconstruction to allow the tissues to settle down after the first surgery. In a way it was good to have that breathing space as it gave me time to research the options, but when the surgeon began mentioning that they would then operate on the 2nd breast in order for it to match the reconstructed breast, and that I still wouldn't have a nipple, it helped to make up my mind.

I have long term ME/CFS and did not recover after the mastectomy as quickly as someone normally would, so the prospect of several future surgeries was just not worth the price I would have to pay. Once my scar had settled down and I had a proper prosthesis and a post-surgery bra to hold it in place, I never looked back as I still had the shape of a breast and had not had to sacrifice my health in other ways due to so many anaesthetics and surgeries.

If you want to send me a PM with any questions, I'll be happy to answer. Meanwhile I wish you all the very best.

westendgirl Mon 04-Sep-23 16:15:07

Wish you all the best, whatever you choose to do.

Redhead56 Mon 04-Sep-23 17:30:47

Very sorry to hear your news it must be a worrying time.
My good friend had a mastectomy four years ago she had to wait until the end of lockdown for her reconstruction. The surgeon lifted her other breast to match it she has never been happier.
I hope all goes well for you my best wishes.

Calendargirl Mon 04-Sep-23 17:38:27

No advice, but I sincerely hope all goes well for you.

V3ra Mon 04-Sep-23 18:31:10

Mcm5 I'm sorry to hear your news.

My Mum had a mastectomy at the age of 70. Just the surgery, no radiotherapy and no chemotherapy was deemed necessary.
It was a month before my daughter's wedding so she was a bit concerned about how her outfit would fit and look, she used a nice scarf to help her feel less self-conscious. She wore a prosthesis.
She used to say she coped afterwards by telling herself she'd had cancer, it had been removed, and she was going to just put it behind her and move on.
She died at 85 from something else entirely.

I wish you well for your surgery xx

dragonfly46 Mon 04-Sep-23 18:46:28

I had a mastectomy 4 years ago. I was not able to have implants but I am 77 and did not consider them. I manage well with my prosthesis and do not worry too much about it. I had chemo and radiotherapy afterwards so I am thankful I am still here.

dragonfly46 Mon 04-Sep-23 18:46:53

Btw I found Facebook groups very helpful.

Anannymous Mon 04-Sep-23 19:16:24

Hi there
Sorry to hear you are having to come to terms with this.
I was diagnosed 20 years ago on Christmas Eve and had a single mastectomy followed by chemo. I was offered a reconstruction (they were not so readily offered back then). Like you I struggled to come to terms with it all but decided not to have a reconstruction, a decision I have never regretted, it was right for me.
Finding well fitting bras and
Prosthesis is a bit of a challenge. I was a pretty odd shape even before surgery. I tried stick on and several other types. I have settled with bean bag type ones which I find most comfortable.
I felt like everyone was looking at me and could see that I was lopsided BUT I promise that does pass and now I don’t give it a thought. I wear what I want and don’t limit my choices because of surgery.
I got so much help and advice from Breast Cancer Now and they can also put you in touch with a volunteer who had to make the same choices as you. They were brilliant.
Hope this helps a little and that your surgery and treatment go well.