Recent breast surgery
I recently had a partial mastectomy and on returning for my follow up appointment with the surgeon was told that one of the sentinel nodes removed showed cancer cells. I have therefore just had the op for the removal of all of my lymph nodes. I am now back home 4 days after the op but have problem in that the skin under my arm is numb and swollen and my breast (or what's left of it!) seems heavy ,tight and appears to be swelling down under my arm. My skin seems to prickle as well. I'm worried that this could be the dreaded lympoedema people have told me about or is it just part of the after op swelling. Also should I be trying to exercise gently at this stage or just keeping the arm as still as possible and if so in what position. I have an ordonnance for kine , and I want to try to find one that knows about the after care of breast cancer, I'm in the Charente (16) any recommendations?
My other query is that I am now waiting 3 weeks for the next follow up,appointment and a PET scan but although cancer cells were found in the lymph nodes I am not having any Radiotherapy, chemo but only hormone therapy for 10 years. I feel a little concerned that any stray cells that escaped the lymph nodes will still be floating around in my body. Is this a normal form of treatment here in France.
Your experience of having to go back for a second op is quite normal, it seems that these days surgeons do not remove the lymph nodes in full unless it is absolutely necessary because of the knock on possible side effects - the lymphoedema that you mention, for example. I had a full mastectomy with complete lymph node removal at the same time (the cancer was sufficiently advanced to warrant this) so cannot comment on your exact experience. I can tell you that it felt as if I had a large brick under my arm for some months and, even now, 7 years on, I have some discomfort. The numbness you mention may go away as the nerves knit together but some people never get the whole sensation back.
More importantly, I think you should go to your GP as soon as possible if you are at all worried about the swelling under your arm. This could be a reaction to the op, lymphoedema, an infection.........or nothing to worry about. The sooner that it is looked at the quicker it can be treated, if need be.
For exercises, if you look in the General Information section under Exercise and Cancer you will find some exercises for post breast surgery. However, if you have swelling I think it would be better to see your GP/surgeon or talk to the hospital before you do any exercise in case that makes the situation worse. You should, of course, see the kine, the exercises, in my experience, ensured that I got back almost full movement in my arm. There is a CSF association near you. It is called CSF Charente Plus and does have members in Dept 16. The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call on 06 45 35 32 30. They may be able to help you with the choice of kine.
This is the link to the Exercise information (I hope!).
Do let us know how you get on and I hope someone will post a reply that is nearer to your own situation.
Very best wishes
I really hope you're doing well, do you think you'll have reconstruction?
Best wishes Rita
It is great to read your story and I am sure that it will give comfort to a lot of people. The aim of the Forum is to allow people to share the good and the bad times and to feel they are not alone "out there". Do post any tips which you might have or anyting else which might help others.
By the way, the "brick" under my arm, 7 years on, is more a pebble, an irritant rather than a right nuisance !
Very best wishes