Three weeks since mastectomy

by Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014Breast Cancer14 comments

It’s been three weeks since my bilateral mastectomy and things move along better each day. I still have problems reaching for things really high up in the cabinets or bending down to pick things up from the floor. My mother in law lent me her grabber, and it’s really come in handy with a few things. I am hoping I won’t be needing it too much longer though.

Since the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my sister-in-law Lori has wanted to take me to a healing mass up at Holy Hill. I have been putting it off since my immune system had been low. Well, we finally made the trip a couple of Sundays ago. Lori brought our friend Sharon along who is also a breast cancer survivor. I had never been to Holy Hill and was really happy that I went. What a beautiful experience with so many people coming up to me and saying they would pray for me.

New Fox and Hounds Restaurant and Tavern, Hubertus, Wisconsin

After the healing mass, we went to lunch at The New Fox and Hounds Restaurant & Tavern in Hubertus, Wisconsin. It was a cute little restaurant set back in the woods. I felt like we were somewhere in Europe.

I still have two Jackson-Pratt drains in as I write. When I left the hospital I had five, and since then have had three removed. Like most of my friends who have had mastectomies have said, the drains are one of the worst parts of recovery. It’s not that you can’t do anything. It’s just that they get on your nerves. The skin pulls and itches at the area where they come out of your body. Also, when I go to stretch or do my physical therapy exercises, it really hurts. I am going to be so relieved to have them all out.

So far I have been through two physical therapy sessions and I feel like my mobility and range of motion are getting better. I just have to make sure I keep up on the exercises because I can feel how tight everything gets if I don’t.

There’s a chance I might be part of a trial for a breast cancer vaccine. It’s the NeuVax™ Phase 3. My surgeon is the lead in a trial being done at Froedtert Cancer Center. They took my blood to see if I am eligible to be a candidate. I have to be the correct blood type and they have to see if my immune system is strong enough to partake in the study. It looks like If I am compatible, the study will be conducted over a 3 year period. I am excited to take part in a study to help with any advancements towards a vaccine.

On Monday we went to the plastic surgeon’s office to have my third drain removed, and at the same time, I unexpectedly received a fill. I have temporary tissue expanders in my chest that are filled with saline. When I came out of surgery my breasts were 40 percent filled. After my doctor examined my incisions on Monday, he said to his assistant, “Let’s put another 100 cc’s in each expander.” I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe it was better not to know beforehand. I think today I am feeling it more than on Monday.

Above is a YouTube video that explains how the expanders work. It was really pretty cool to watch Shea inject the saline and see my breasts grow a little bit right before my eyes.

In my physical therapy sessions at Froedtert and my daily exercises at home, I can’t believe how hard it is to do a simple little activity such as putting your arms out like an airplane. I know, for one thing, I won’t ever again take this for granted. I wish I could get out there and start walking again like I did last year. I sure look forward to getting back out and being able to move around without these limitations. I know I have to go slow and keep focused and also that the worst is behind me.

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