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Things to Prepare:
Before doing anything, you must join a support group. This Facebook Breast Cancer Support Group that I am a part of is so amazing. With over 37k members and growing, these ladies will be able to answer all your burning questions that you may have.
You could also do a search on your question inside the group instead because many a time these questions have already been asked numerously before. But don’t be shy! Everyone there is so helpful and supportive, and that’s exactly what you would need RIGHT NOW! – Pink Sisters!
Now first things first, Before you go about your operation, you would need to buy a few essentials to make your days at home post-surgery more comfortable. Whether you are planning a mastectomy or a lumpectomy all these will apply. You will need a Front Zip Comfy Sports Bra, Post Surgery Pillow, Wedge / Prop Body Pillow, Full Body Pillow (Optional), and a Port / Post Surgery Seatbelt Pillow. Let me explain what these are and how how they are used.
Firstly, the front zip sports bra is so great in support and accessibility. YES, you should wear a sports bra immediately after surgery. This is strongly recommended since lifting your arms will become an issue. The front zipper will make it easier to access for your arms and wearing a comfortable sports bra will ensure there is pressure placed around your chest while preventing the “girls” from jiggling around with all the stitches.
Next, you would need a Port/ Post Surgery Seat belt Pillow. This is so nice to have especially when you are on your way back home from the hospital and for the next few weeks. It prevents the seatbelt from rubbing against your surgical/port area and provides cushion support should a sudden break happen during your car ride. For those who may need to get a port (Chemo) placed in their upper chest, this is a must-have.
You will need to rest A LOT. So comfort is key! The Post Surgery Pillow and Wedge / Prop Body Pillow was the perfect solution. I am a side sleeper, so I needed to use the wedge pillow to prop me up to avoid sleeping on my left side. But when I switch to the other side, I needed my left arm propped up as well LOL. So the full-body pillow was great for that purpose. Or you can just use a plush head pillow instead.
And finally the Post Surgery Chest Pillow. Initially, I didn’t think I would actually need this but with 2 toddlers at home (or pets), I knew I needed a (soft) shield to protect my surgical site. I would wrap and secure this pillow around my chest, and not worry about being bumped or knocked. Plus it’s so cozy too!
Radiotherapy is the final invasive treatment you will/may get. I was fortunate to not go through Chemotherapy so it was just Radiation for me.
A lot of ladies have had so many concerns about getting burned or getting zapped in the heart and would avoid Radiation at all costs. Well let me tell you, I was scared as hell too! But with today’s technology, these machines are a lot superior to what we think.
I am based in Washington State, and I’m pretty sure the doctors here are up to date on their research . So when I asked about getting zapped in the heart and/or lungs, Dr. Hunter my wonderful Radiologist assured me I was in good hands.
The technology used in today’s radiation machine (Linear Accelerator) will safely ensure no beams will pass through your heart. When you go for your mapping, the tech specialist will record the air gap in your body against your heart and lungs and be able to detect and automatically stop its beams should you exhale accidentally during your treatment. That is why it is important to stay as relaxed as possible and to hold your breath (when told to do so) for as long as you can (no longer than 10 seconds).
Now, what about burning? He did say and I quote “larger gals do have the tendency to burn” unquote. He said this is because a higher dose is required to enable the beams to get through and pass the entire area when it is much larger. I guess that makes sense. And the best way to protect your skin from burning is through these two simple steps. Moisturize and Hydrocortisone.
My tech who is also a BC survivor assured me that with regular moisturizing and hydrocortisone application, I should be in good hands. I did take the extra step by applying an Aloe Vera Soothing Gel right after my daily sessions. Just make sure there is no alcohol in the ingredients!
This will be your final treatment which would run its course for 5 – 10 years.
Side effects are the biggest deal breaker when it comes to subscribing to these little pills. But for me, I would say if you’d never tried it, you would never know. Not everyone gets really bad side effects if not any.
This would be my 3rd-month taking 20mgs of Tamoxifen and so far I am feeling fine. I am however taking it together with a dosage of Vitamin D3 2000IU supplement because I believe this also helps with fatigue.
Don’t be afraid to try it out and always speak to your Doctors when in doubt. I am also happy to answer any questions you might have based on my experience.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional in any way and all the information that I have provided is based on my own personal experience.
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Breast Cancer Abbreviations:
AC – chemo drug: Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) aka Red Devil, and Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).
CMF – Cyclophosphamide/Methotrexate/Flourouracil
FEC – Flourouracil/Epirubicin/Cyclophosphamide (chemo cocktail)
bc- breast cancer
SNB – Sentinel Node Biopsy
dx – diagnosis
IBC – Inflamatory Breast Cancer
IDC – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
ILC – Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
IDCIS – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
LCIS – Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
ANC – Ancillary Node Clearance
ALND – Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
Ln – lymph node
Lx – lumpectomy
mx – mastectomy
umx- unilateral mastectomy
bmx – bilateral mastectomy
DMX – Double Mastectomy
DIEP – Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator
MPBC – Metaplastic Breast Cancer (not to be confused with metastatic breast cancer) – an aggressive rare form of breast cancer.
IMBC-Invasive Micropapillary Breast Carcinoma–
METS – Metastatic
SE – Side Effect
ANC – Absolute Neutrophil Count
WBC – White Blood Count
RBC – Red Blood Count
LE – Lymphedema
PICC line – Peripherally Inserted Central Line
PORT – Port-a-cath
Mammo – Mammogram
U/S – Ultrasound
ECHO – Echocardiogram
RADS – Radiation/Radiotherapy
pCR- pathological complete response
NED – no evidence of disease
NEAD – No Evidence of Active Disease. Used for stage 4.
Onc – Oncologist
PS – Plastic Surgeon
BS – Breast Surgeon
NP – Nurse Practioner
GP- General Practioner
PCP – Primary Care Physician
GS – General Surgeon
BRCA = BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer genes 1 and 2)
BARD1 another BC gene
** Copied from FB Breast Cancer Support Group posted by Sue Ann Hampel (Admin)
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