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Coping after a mastectomy...tips for my dm

(12 Posts)
Barbie1 Sat 10-May-14 09:22:02

Hello.

My darling mother is 48 hours post op, having undergone a mastectomy on her left breast.

This is the second time that the bastard cancer has struck after we have enjoyed a 10 year cancer free period.

I am an expat and currently thousands of miles away and feeling totally hopeless. Due to having two young children and currently pregnant it was decided that I'm better off going home for the summer in 6 weeks. My dm didn't want the children to see her in hospital and in so much pain.

However, I need to help her. She had a breakdown once she dressed for the first time yesterday.

She doesn't know how to dress for her new shape.

Or where to get prettier bras

Or how to come to terms with it all.

Is there anything you lovely ladies can recommend? Anything at all?

I wish I were home to give her a cuddle and to cry our tears together sad

malteserzz Sat 10-May-14 10:12:13

Your poor mum, I only had a lumpectomy but I'll bump for you

Barbie1 Sat 10-May-14 10:33:23

Thanks malteserzz.

I hope you are recovered or at least recovering from your lumpectomy. Mum had one last time...that was bad enough.

LEMmingaround Sat 10-May-14 10:38:41

Bumping and marking place. Sorry no advice but my friend is having mastectomy on tuesday and any advice you recieve wilĺ help me to support her. Luckily she has her sisters over from italy. Both doctors but I want to do what I can

Barbie1 Sat 10-May-14 10:43:48

LEMingaround, you sound like a good friend smile
I'm so very grateful my mum has some lovely friends who are looking after her until I can get there.

Wishing your friend all the best x

RedRoses1111 Sat 10-May-14 10:53:43

Hi Barbie1

I would recommend Nicola Jane for buying on line. They do bras, swimwear,prosthesis etc.

Thinking of you both x

My mum is 18 months on from her mastectomy. She really struggled with her new shape and the prosthesis. She tried lots of different bras, ended up sewing little inserts into them (using soft jersey) to make a pocket for the prosthesis. It took several months to feel comfortable and to start to feel confident that it wasn't all going to slip around in public. But all the trying and experimenting seemed to help her get used to her new shape and know it and understand what worked for her.
I know that she got in touch with various people such as bra fitters, some recommended by the hospital and others via the Breast Cancer care forum.

She does often wear scarves which drape across her bosom and disguise and distract attention from the neckline and her boobs. She has lots of this sort of style. Maybe that could be something you send her to give her a boost?

Thinking of you both and wishing your mum a smooth recovery.

Barbie1 Sat 10-May-14 13:10:21

Mrscakes, I'm so sorry your dm has had to go through this too.

Lots of good advice, the scarves sound an excellent idea as does the self made bras.

This is just so tough. I'm feeling such a terrible daughter for not being by her side sad

ConsiderablyBiggerBuns Sat 10-May-14 13:19:29

Hello barbie, must be hard for you being so far away. A couple of questions for you. Has your mum had a single mastectomy? Has she had a node clearance under her armpit? I am 4 weeks on from a double mastectomy. In some ways as far as shape goes it is easier as I am not lopsided and have got used to being totally flat when I haven't got my softies on in my bra. That soon after surgery I wouldn't have liked to have had a bra anywhere near me, which must be more difficult if you still have one breast. My Breast Cancer Nurse provided me with softie pads and pinned them to my bra while I was in hospital but since then I have been fitted for a specialist post op mastectomy bra which is specially made for comfort and also has pockets for the softies. Now I am back to work I wear that during the day and I have to say that you would not know that I was anything other than normal in the chest area. Have to be careful about how low the front of a top is though. I have heard that marks and Spencer's are selling mastectomy bras, got mine from a independent underwear shop.
The reason I ask about the node clearance is that this is the thing that is more debilitating than the breast removal. Have to admit that my chest is still a bit sore 4 weeks on but totally manageable and would have been more or less functioning as normal if it wasn't for the node clearance which is far more painful and restrictive in terms of movement and recovery time. Didn't really notice any improvement until the last week, which was in line with what I had been told but was very impatient to feel less uncomfortable.
Obviously everyone is different and it is really early days for your Mum, but wishing her all the best. Do you know what other treatment she will require?
I see you have posted on the taxi thread, there are lots of lovely people on there who will be happy to answer your queries and hope your hand through the process. X

FrancesNiadova Sat 10-May-14 19:37:29

Hi, after my single side mastectomy, I was given leaflets for Nicola Jayne and Eloise lingerie. They had post-surgery soft bras, insert prosthesis bras and swimwear.
A good website is breastcancercare.co.uk, there is a forum and a helpline with trained breast nurses answering questions/worries.
I had an LD flap reconstruction, then nipple reconstruction followed by nipple/areola tattoo. I had my tattoo done a month ago, the nurse said that it would fade, but I'm really happy with it- it looks really good.
I think at the time, you are so taken up with the next test, surgery, reconstruction options, that the enormity of what you're going through doesn't hit you until afterwards. That's how it was with me anyway.
I wish your Mum all the best, she needs to give herself the time to come to terms with everything that she's been through. thanks

Barbie1 Mon 12-May-14 09:22:42

Ladies, thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

This kind of thread is always bitter sweet, it's great to have so many replies yet so heartbreaking that so many of you have/ are going through this.

Cancer is shit.

Mum is home, they had to sedate her as she hadn't been sleeping but after a 10 hour stretch they deemed her well enough to go home smile

She has to wait for her results on the 21st to see what happens next. She has already been told radiotherapy isn't an option as they won't do it in the same place twice.

Chemo last time nearly destroyed her. It caused a multitude of on going problems such as a weaked heart (working only to 30%) blood clots for which she is monitored weekly and takes daily wafrin and diabetes.

Due to these factors they don't know how she will cope wth chemo...fingers crossed.

In answer to the question above, last time during her lumpectomy she had some lymph nodes removed, I believe this time they have all been. Her arm is black and bruised.

Thank you all once again flowers

Barbie1 Mon 12-May-14 09:23:59

And yes, single side only as she isn't strong enough to cope with double

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