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I have to have a mastectomy……

(73 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.

Mcm5 Tue 05-Sep-23 14:30:06

I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate the kind messages, loving thoughts, and such positive vibes coming from everyone.
And it really has helped me so much.
I do trust my medical team and I know there is lots of support around …. for me - and, very importantly too, for my family.
I don’t want reconstruction, I know that now. (So that’s one less thing to think about….!)
So thank you so much! I’m feeling a lot less wobbly today - thanks to your messages.🤗 X

nanaK54 Tue 05-Sep-23 14:38:02

I'm late to this but just wanted send you kind thoughts flowers

Fleurpepper Tue 05-Sep-23 14:38:14

Courage- great attitude. Bravo.

Grannyparkrun Tue 05-Sep-23 14:42:58

I'm so sorry, you must be reeling from the news, it hits you like a hurricane at the beginning and you think you'll never get past it, but you will.
I had a mastectomy on the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The turmoil I felt was nothing compared to what was going on there, and that's how I chose to look at it throughout my recovery, it did help me keep things in perspective a bit!
Choosing no reconstruction was the hardest decision ever, I cried so hard, but I felt a huge weight off my shoulders when i was able to choose not, and I'm so glad. The recovery was so much quicker, and I've learned to live an asymmetrical life with few regrets. I rarely wear a prosthesis, they just annoy me, but i was fitted for 2 incase i ever do want to wear one.
I enjoy choosing clothes that mask my flat side, and just wear crop top type sports bras. It all felt utterly impossible at first, but so many people helped me on the journey, (and they will you too). I want to give you a big hug and say don't worry - it will all work out OK, and you will enjoy your life again.
All the best with your decision.

AnnieOaklea Tue 05-Sep-23 15:02:40

I had a total double mastectomy (both breasts and both nipples removed in the same operation) and expanders inserted. I was 60 years old (now 71) and it was a long 9 hour surgery with a six week recovery period. However, I am just so relieved that I’ve been given a decent chance for the future. The expanders were filled every few weeks at the hospital to stretch the skin, and a year later they were removed and implants inserted. My nipples were later “made” with a quick surgical operation, and the aerola was tattooed on a few months later.
It wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as it all might sound. There are various other mastectomy options available too, so discuss it fully with your hospital consultant. Wishing you all the best whatever you decide.

4allweknow Tue 05-Sep-23 15:20:05

Only experience I have is that of my DD who had a single mastectomy at 46 so not anything like you are having to deal with. Do hope you are given good information and advice and that all goes well.

HeatherMH Tue 05-Sep-23 15:52:42

Sorry to hear your news but on a positive note, I was advised to have a single mastectomy but like you I was worried about symmetry. They agreed to perform a bilateral mastectomy and I then had Diep flap reconstruction using tissue and fat from my lower abdomen. I couldn’t be happier with the results, I have great shape boobs with nipple reconstruction and tattooing and I also have a lovely flat stomach. The mastectomy operation was a very quick procedure and I did have to wait 12 months for reconstruction as I couldn’t decide whether to have implants or the Diep option, however my consultant likened the differences to a Ford Focus or a Rolls Royce 😁 so I went for the Rolls Royce.
Whatever you decide make sure you talk it through with the team who will give you the best advice. But if you want symmetry push for a bilateral mastectomy.
Good luck and stay positive xx

twiglet77 Tue 05-Sep-23 15:58:51

I had a skin-sparing mastectomy 15 years ago aged 51, removing the nipple and the 3cm grade 2 tumour, I think 22 lymph nodes removed, followed by seven months of chemotherapy through a port temporarily inserted below my collarbone, 15 sessions of radiotherapy and five years on Tamoxifen. I opted for a DIEP reconstruction at the same time, using a flap of flesh from my tummy (so getting a tummy tuck in the process!) and some time later I had a nipple constructed using skin from my groin.

I was and remain single. Nobody else sees it, nor ever will outside a medical setting. My teenagers were worried I would look different. With clothes on you wouldn’t know, and the tummy scar is flat and very faint. I used the cold cap for chemo so I didn’t lose my hair (well, it thinned a little but I only actually lost hair below the waist..!) and the whole experience was manageable.

I don’t really have friends and I dislike talking face to face so support group meetings weren’t for me, but I found great support reading and posting on the Breast Cancer Care forum.

A lot of books helped too. The Boudicca Within was a favourite, Breast Cancer For Dummies, and Take Off Your Party Dress are three I’d especially recommend.

It’s doable. It’s an experience, ask ask and ask some more when you have appointments, take a notebook and list of your questions and their answers. You can do this, and I’m thinking of you.

sweetcakes Tue 05-Sep-23 15:59:52

Hi sorry to hear your news I was diagnosed last July a lobular carcinoma in my left breast which in fact is soft and if it wasn't for a mammogram it wouldn't have been found. First op 5th October not enough of the cancer was removed so a second one 5th December when it was totally removed along with 31 lymph nodes started chemo February and just finished radiotherapy 2 weeks ago. My lady surgeon did a really good job hardly any scaring and replaced the carcinoma with fat from below the breast.
Yes you will change your mind a few times over what you want. Have you been intouch with macmillans they are extremely nice and helpful and will talk to you answer your questions.
Hope you get all the help you need from family. You will have your low days and some days you'll feel great but listen to your body.
Wishing you all the best x

Froglady Tue 05-Sep-23 16:38:05

There might be a group on your area where ladies who have affected by breast cancer meet regularly sometimes as a social event but they may also have talks by breast care nurses, surgeons , dieticians, etc,etc. Check with the clinic who you are being treated by and ask if they know of any groups. I live in East Lancashire and there is a local group there.
Good Luck with it all.

labradorlinda33 Tue 05-Sep-23 17:23:01

Hello Mcm5, wishing you all the best for your surgery and I hope you get lots of support and T L C...

lynniewinnie Wed 06-Sep-23 08:41:28

Mcm5 , I completely understand how you are feeling.
I am just 66 and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after being free for 15 years, it was a great shock, l had a left breast mastectomy, which had no end of complications, my right breast is enormous, l have come to hate it weird l know, l have my prothesis which just doesn’t feel right, l know l am still living and l am grateful for that. Going through Chemotheraphy at the moment on my 3rd treatment and have been so poorly.
I just need a big cry to get rid of everything but l just cannot cry.
My family and friends have been absolutely wonderful, but l just don’t like me at the moment .
Looking for a wig this week as bald isn’t me lol.
Just thought I would get a few things pardon the pun off my chest. Sorry for my moan.
I am sure I will get there in the end ♥️

growstuff Wed 06-Sep-23 10:06:48

sweetcakes I had a lobular carcinoma too. They're difficult to spot because they don't form a lump and a second one was found with MRI. That's why it's so important that women have scans and report anything which bothers them.

Mcm5 Glad you're feeling a bit better and hope we've all helped you a bit.

Seabreeze Wed 06-Sep-23 10:10:27

Mcm5. Wishing you all the best.💐💐 stay positive.

growstuff Wed 06-Sep-23 10:14:15

lynniewinnie flowers

I went through the not liking myself stage. My way of coping has been to take extra care of the other bits of me (including my mind, heart and body). Now I can look in the mirror and quite like what I see - and I appreciate life more.

I don't like my healthy breast because it's quite floppy, so I'm plucking up the courage to ask for a reduction.

Peaches7 Wed 06-Sep-23 14:24:31

I am so sorry you are going through this,there is a group called knitted knockers,who knit boobs for ladies who have had a mastectomy,you just pop them in your bra, look them up the reviews are very good,also there is a mcmillan website,ifound them very helpful when I had womb cancer,and there are many forums for different cancers,it helped me alot,and didn't make me feel so alone during my cancer journey,sending you lots of virtual hugs

humptydumpty Wed 06-Sep-23 14:38:02

Hi Mcm5

I have no experience of this, but am very sorry to hear of your situation. I am 72, and feel that I would prefer to have a double mastectomy even if the other breast was unaffected, in order to avoid this 'lop-sided' issue. Please don't think me insensitive - I might well feel different if confronted with your situation.

Grannyparkrun Wed 06-Sep-23 20:15:34

www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/sep/06/a-moment-that-changed-me-i-removed-my-prosthetic-breast-and-left-shame-behind?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other
In todays Guardian, a fantastic, positive article

scrapgran Wed 06-Sep-23 21:57:47

I had my first mastectomy aged 46 and a reconstruction at the same time as I felt I was too young to be one sided flat!. Aged Aged 70 I had another mastectomy and then chemo and radiotherapy. Had to wait for a reconstruction and in between I used a prosthesis which I found much too heavy. Now feeling great and though I'm uneven bras are much better these days so I don't feel very odd - now aged 77 yrs and thriving

Mcm5 Thu 07-Sep-23 10:08:04

Thank you all so much. What a wonderful site this is! It has really helped to hear others stories and thoughts. And Grannyparkrun that is a brilliant article in the Guardian. Thank you. x A totally fresh approach - and a wonderful start to my day! Again, thank you all so much. Onwards and Upwards .... ! 🤗 X

SynchroSwimmer Thu 07-Sep-23 14:52:13

Forgive me if this isn’t relevant, but it’s something uplifting that stays with me.

I was walking a remote beach in the Canaries, early morning, no one around, I reached a distant headland and saw a female figure, late 60’s, like me. She had fabulous white teeth, the broadest of smiles and was dancing in the surf at the waters edge, naked, arms out wide, twirling around, so happy.
I didn’t recognise or know her, but she gave me the most amazing heartwarming welcome like a long-lost friend.

It was only the next morning when we bumped into one another again in the same place, same huge smile, arms wide, embracing life in the sunshine and surf, that I noticed she had a mastectomy.

I feel it was so powerful, she was embracing her scars with pride and it reinforced a powerful message that we carry on and make the most of life with any limitations that we are given. I think of her often.

lynniewinnie Sun 10-Sep-23 20:07:37

Thank you growstuff xx