Thoughts and feelings after breast surgery

Hubby and I were talking about things last night when we went to bed.
Obviously what outsiders see could be what we want them to rather than how things really are, but that’s not our way……….. with our friends or each other.

I read a book many years ago about a woman who had a double mastectomy and her husband tried to deal with it but couldn’t, so they divorced.
She got to know a younger man whose sister had cancer, so he was used to the side effects of chemo, radiotherapy and meds, and nothing phased him. They developed a relationship and things were progressing along nicely until she came to realise that although he loved her in his own way, he was trying to make amends for not being able to save his sister who had died less than a year after her diagnosis and treatment.
Her ex husband then came back on the scene and was thrilled when he discovered she’d had reconstructive surgery and was what he considered ‘whole again’. I thought his character shallow and arrogant, but there you go, it was a book which ended with them remarrying and me feeling let down at (IMO) the trite storyline. I thought this would be the outcome by the end of the fourth chapter, but you know what it’s like, you have to read through to the end to see if you’re right.

When I came round from surgery and was on the hospital ward, the first thing I did was pull my gown away from my chest and have a look.
I don’t know what I expected, but there was a tidy cleanness to the area and I had a shiny white dressing which reminded me a little of PVC roof flashing! I had the drain in place (which wasn’t in the way as such, just an inconvenience), but otherwise I felt fine and was glad Hubby was there shortly afterwards.

As you know, I was discharged the following day and we stayed with MSM until I was cleared for travel after the dressing and drain were removed, which was a week after surgery.
MSM has mirrors everywhere in her house, and they are all at (my) chest height, so no matter where I looked, sat, or stood, I would see myself somewhere.
Hubby cleared down my drain every day, carefully measuring the liquid and both of us kept watch for undo swelling, heat, inflammation, redness, or rashes.  He was there when the dressing was removed, much to the surprise, but acceptance, of the nurse and we were all pleased at how well I was healing.
Hubby doesn’t look at where my breast used to be with abhorrence, curiosity, fear, shock, embarrassment or any other of the emotions that I can well understand some partners would experience. He has had enough surgery to recognise unwelcome signs that I might otherwise miss, but overall he is stunned at how well I am progressing when you consider I had my surgery only a fortnight ago.

As we were talking last night, he emphasised it didn’t make any difference to him, I was still ‘His Di’ and he loved me regardless. I know this, and the only real difference at the moment is that he is spoiling me too much by not letting me do a lot but as he says, he wants us to grow old together, not on our own.
For my part, I don’t feel different. I don’t feel a part of me is missing, or unbalanced, odd, or that people are staring. I look in the mirror here at home and see a marked improvement every day when I wash and get dressed. The bruising is fading and the scar ‘puckering’ is flattening. I have a little build up of liquid which is to be expected, and that should be absorbed by the body once it gets the idea that it’s supposed to.
I’ve had virtually no pain, just the occasional ‘spiky’ twinge as the nerves wake up, and some numbness under my arm where they played around with the lymph nodes. It feels like I’ve got a football stuffed in my armpit but apparently that is all perfectly normal at this stage. My SW consultant says she had the same.
I am still the same person as I was on October 28th when I went into hospital. The essence of me is intact and within, nothing has ‘gone’, been mislaid or lost. I’m still here. All of me. The absence of a breast is incidental.
The good news is that the meds I’m on will stop any Humphrey cancers developing anywhere else. It was bad luck that Calcification Dick came along, but he’s sorted now and that should be the end of it. We’ll know next week anyway.
I cannot thank everyone enough for their continued support, good wishes and humour.  My friends at SW were glad to see me last night, and are pleased I’m doing so well. Not losing anything at all after three weeks was really funny, but just goes to show how insignificant Dick was.
I’ve got darts tonight. I’m not playing, just doing the paperwork and we’ll see how it goes. If the girls get stuck on double one it’s going to be a long night, but I’ve got nothing on tomorrow, so like today, I can sleep in. I didn’t get up until half past ten!

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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76 Responses to Thoughts and feelings after breast surgery

  1. Sadje says:

    This is how real people in love should be. You guys are an ideal couple. Both of you took the whole thing very pragmatically. Stay happy and healthy.

  2. fransiweinstein says:

    This is a great post Di, and so important. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We are not defined by our breasts. And a man who would be turned off by a lack of one, instead of being focused on wanting his wife or girlfriend around forever is not a man I would want in my life. So bravo to you and your hubby for prioritizing life over vanity! Years ago when I still lived in Montreal I did advertising and PR in the fashion industry.i was travelling around the country doing fashion shows with a designer from Los Angeles. Our first stop was Ottawa. When we arrived we checked into our hotel and relaxed until dinner. My phone rang shortly before dinner and it was the designer asking me to meet her at her room. When she answered my knock at the door she was wrapped in a towel. She whipped it off and asked if I’d ever seen a mastectomy. The sight of her chest didn’t shock me at all, but the fact that she was standing stark naked out in the hallway blew my mind. She took her top off at every fashion show we did. While it may have been a bit extreme, I admire her tremendously. She didn’t want women to fear losing a breast, or to turn away from the sight of a woman who’d had a mastectomy. She wanted to normalize it and remove the stigma. She got wild applause and cheering every time she did it. I will always remember what she did. It was a huge gift she gave all of us who were there. Your honesty in your blog posts is doing the same thing Di. So thank you for that.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Fransi.
      Your designer friend was amazing! I think of my neighbour and her generosity in showing me her scar before my op when I was anxious about the ‘afterwards’. Any doubts I had were blown to smithereens.
      I too want to relieve any fears and stigma attached to this kind of surgery. If anything I write helps anyone in a similar position, I am doing something worthwhile. I am still not interested in reconstruction even though it is wonderful what can be done. My life is good, and what’s more, I have a wonderful man to share it.

      • fransiweinstein says:

        You are truly blessed Di. And I’m with you 100% on reconstruction. I think it is fantastic that is available as an option for any woman who wants it, but I wouldn’t be interested either.

      • I could have had it done at the same time as my surgery, but although the same surgeon would do the removal, it was at a different hospital and someone else doing the reconstruction. I have bad memories of that one as my best friend had her surgery there and she died in 2000. I also didn’t fancy the discomfort of two, perhaps three sites to concentrate on as regards healing, or the additional delay to arrange both at the same time. We wanted it done so that we could move forward.

      • fransiweinstein says:

        I would have done the same for the same reasons.

  3. tidalscribe says:

    A positive attitude and loving support – yes I would have been annoyed with the husband in the book! A great encouragement to all of us because it can happen to any of us.

    • It can indeed, but medicine has advanced in so many ways with cancer detection, diagnosis and treatments. Dick was an unwelcome occurrence, but he’s gone now and I can get on with more important things.

  4. Your hubby is a lot like mine. I had a catheter under my boob. I couldn’t see the incision where it came out and it had to be cleaned every day. He did it. He wasn’t grossed out. We are so both so lucky. It makes like easier.

    • It does, doesn’t it Kate. The drain exit was under my arm but I was given a cloth shoulder bag and my lovely heart shaped cushion which made everything a lot more comfortable. He cleared it down every day.

  5. Wonderful love story. When I had just breast excision biopsies, my husband would be eww but in the same way I was because if bruising. He was feeling my Ug-ness with me. And i couldn’t lift anything for about 2 weeks. And my incisions were only an inch or so. I’m in about an every 6 months mamo on one side. Whatever transpires transpires. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. SarahC says:

    Yes that’s why couples need to be unconditional

  7. SarahC says:

    Unconditional friends no better spouse 💟

  8. Thanks ‘Di’ for sharing your journey.
    The love betwixt you and your husband brought tears to my eyes.
    Bless him for being such a wonderful caring human.
    So glad to read you are on the mend – steady progression. 🙂

  9. quiall says:

    But you are different. You are stronger and smarter and with each passing day you get more so.

  10. Avia Tinder says:

    Beautiful post, and I’m most grateful the prayers of many including myself have been, and continued to be, answered. I’m thrilled by your husband’s caring and love-filled response…my eyes welled up, because many of us don’t have that kind of love.

  11. I love the way you are a couple. Hope you continue down the path of healing.

    • Thank you Gary.
      We were indeed lucky to find each other. We are an ‘US’, there is no him or me, we come as a double act and what you see is what you get.
      Overdid it a bit yesterday (got told off) so not doing anything today.

  12. jenanita01 says:

    I think it’s wonderful how well you are doing, Di… My appointment is on Friday, and have so many fingers crossed, I’m having trouble typing!

  13. scifihammy says:

    I am glad you have the support of each other and such a positive outlook. I hope you carry on healing so well. 🙂

  14. joylennick says:

    Hi Di, Such positive vibes coming through your remarks and news – wonderful! Great to have such a loving husband. We’ve both had cancer and survived – me in my 30’s, husband in his 80’s. I was very lucky; one operation and OK; he had prostate so more treatment, but he’s now 91, so again very fortunate (Mentally 40!). Here’s wishing you even better news and a complete recovery. xx

    • Thank you so much. How wonderful for both you and your Hubby! It was unfortunate Dick turned up, but there you go. We should get the results next week, so fingers crossed that is an end to it.

  15. Sounds like you have a lovely husband. I’ve had multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer and my husband always tells me that if anybody has a problem with my scar (runs from one ear, then down along the base of the neck and up to the other ear) then it’s their problem not mine! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • Thanks Stevie! Sounds like you’ve got a keeper too Hope all is OK with you now?

      • Yes, I am cancer free albeit a little battered around the edges, especially from the neck up!

      • Glad to hear you are cancer free Stevie. I’m hoping for the same diagnosis next week.

      • Good luck for your appointment. It took me 14 years to get cancer free though. It’s been a hard slog.

      • That’s a long haul Stevie.
        For me, they got it all in 2016, but this one was different hence the additional surgery. I only needed radiotherapy last time, but my surgeon said I shouldn’t need anything this time as there was nothing there to zap. I’m still a bit concerned though…….

      • Is this a different cancer or a secondary to the cancer in 2016?

      • Humphrey (2016) was a cancerous lump which was removed with no problem or side effects. I was in and out of hospital the same day with just a small incision under my arm. We’d got it so early, he didn’t register sufficiently for me to benefit from chemo and the meds I’m on will stop any similar cancers developing elsewhere in the body. Dick (this chap) was a calcification/DCIS, so contained in situ and non invasive., but if left untreated, could have been a different story. Hopefully they’ll be able to tell me why he turned up when I get the results next week.

      • Mine came back 3 times before success, and left me with Sid, the scar that I mentioned before. Coincidence that we gave them names!

      • I always hated the name Humphrey so that stuck, but with Dick it was a play on DCIS and also that all Dicks I knew had been right tits, and that was where he was lurking! How did you come up with Sid if you don’t mind me asking?

      • Lol, I had to laugh at that one! It was just Sid the Scar, which lightened the atmosphere every time somebody gave me that sympathetic look and said ‘How are you’ (with emphasis on the ‘are’)?

      • I used my humour to make light of things. I knew I couldn’t change anything and I had a few people to reassure things were going to be OK (which I knew they would be, I had every confidence in my consultant). Im doing OK apart from the tiredness which has surprised me, and will be glad when I get the results next week. I’ve had so much support and people are laughing and joking with me, which is great.

      • The tiredness is part and parcel of cancer treatment. It’s good that you still have a sense of humour. It definitely helps!

      • I must admit, I didn’t realise it would hit me so hard this time, but I am sleeping very well and that is helping me heal. I only needed radiotherapy last time, but apparently I shouldn’t need further treatment as there was nothing there because it had already been zapped 3 years ago. We shall find out next week.

      • Eat well – plenty of oranges for the immune system and which also have anti-cancer properties.

      • Ah, have a problem with oranges as they can trigger migraine. However, I am dosing myself with nulti-vitamins and plenty of other fruit, especially frozen strawberries, blackberries and blackcurrants which are full of vitamin C

      • Yes, vitamin C is essential for the immune system. Funnily enough for 59 years I couldn’t eat oranges as they sat very heavy in my stomach and always made me feel sick. After radiotherapy it was as though my body was craving them and I couldn’t eat enough oranges. I also didn’t have any more side-effects of nausea! Weird, eh?

      • Definitely, but good for you. How wonderful! I loved the big navel oranges, but have to restrict myself now…….. this actually isn’t that hard as they are so damned expensive , nor are they as big and juicy as I remember!

  16. Erica Herd says:

    I’m glad to hear you are healing and that your husband is so supportive. Wonderful!

  17. Sue Vincent says:

    This had me in tears over my first coffee, Di…such a beautiful post for so many reasons.

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