Advice needed - mom is getting Mastectomy

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/12/2009 9:57 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi all  - I'm new to the whole blog thing so if I break protocol, please forgive me.  My mom is getting a Mastectomy and I am looking for some advice as to what to expect.  My sisters and I will be taking care of her after the surgery so I was hoping to get some pracitcal advice as to what to expect.  Any info will be GREATLY appreciated!!  It would be really great if I can speak to you in person so if you are open to a phone call then please let me know
Brian B.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 1564
   Posted 10/12/2009 4:22 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi, Brian. How old is your mom, and is she just having a mastectomy, or is some kind of reconstruction planned at the same time? Makes a big difference in how I would answer your question. If she is otherwise healthy, and she is having a modified radical mastectomy with no reconstruction, then physically, there won't be much for you to do. She will probably come home with drains, and if they are the type with reservoirs, then you can attach a piece of first aid tape to the tube and safety pin the tube to clothing to keep the reservoir from pulling. If she is allowed to shower (depends on the surgeon's orders), you can take a piece of rolled gauze bandage to make a long loop to put around her neck and pin the drains to that. If the drains are passive, you'll just have to change the dressings per the doctor's instructions. Other than that, she may have some pain when she moves her arm on that side, so reaching for objects high on a shelf, for example, may be hard for her. And she'll need plenty of rest. But most important, she's going to need emotional support. Cancer is a scary thing, and the last thing most of us want is someone to feel sorry for us or to think of us as "dying." Be positive and let your mom know she can beat this thing and you are going to be there for her. Yes, breast cancer is serious, and yes, you can certainly die from it. But there are plenty of us here who have been around for many years without further evidence of cancer (I've got 15 years coming up!)

Hope this helps. Feel free to visit any time.

"There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker."  --Charles Schulz

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 19
   Posted 11/14/2009 10:59 AM (GMT -7)   

My mom went through this last year. We all kind of pulled together to help out as my dad is quite sick and needs care also. My 15 yr old son moved in with them for 3 months, he was awesome, gave up his summer to care for them. My best advice is to not let her worry about anything, make sure all her chores are done. There is nothing worse than feeling guilty because your work is piling up while you are trying to heal. Make sure someone prepares meals for her. I used to just cook extra when I made supper and then I'd run over the extra for mom and dad. Try to keep her spirits up, when my mom would start feeling down and starting talking about her having cancer I got scared, when talking about this to my family, my 12 yr old said..."well mom, grammy doesn't have cancer anymore they took it out" So he made her a poster that she put up next to her bed that said " I don't have cancer anymore". I think it helped keep her in the right frame of mind to heal.

Lots of love is the best medicine :)

Take care

37 y/o female.
Diagnosed in 2001
Current meds: Entocort, Vitamin D & Calcium
Starting Remicade on November 23, 2009

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 1564
   Posted 11/14/2009 4:42 PM (GMT -7)   
The world would be a better place if we could all think like children... I love that!!!

Thanks for sharing!

"There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker."  --Charles Schulz

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 730
   Posted 11/14/2009 11:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Brian:  I am glad that you found us. You have received some great advice from the other members. So I will add these thoughts.
....make sure  that your  mom has some pajamas or gowns that button up the front. She isn't going to be able to raise her arm very high for a week or so. Make sure that they are very soft.
....There is a type of garment that you can purchase that is soft and has a pocket to hold the drains. Most of the stores that handle mastectomy products sell these.
....I found that I slept better in my recliner the first couple of days/nights after I got home. It was just to difficult to lay flat or attempt to push myself up from the bed. My daughter propped pillows behind my shoulder and under my arm.
....Remember that she is going to need help cutting her meat. I know that this sounds silly but it is a difficult task when you just have one arm that you can use.
....Just let her know that you all love her. Keep a positive attitude around her. If she wants to cry, let her. She will have a wide range of emotions that she will have to work thru after her surgery. You might want to contact your local American Cancer Society and talk with them. Ask them about support groups in the area where your mom lives.
Please let us know how your mom's surgery goes and how she is doing. We would love to have her come here and post.
Good  luck

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 200
   Posted 11/15/2009 7:30 AM (GMT -7)   
Brian, good morning.
Everyone is different, but I had NO problems after my mastectomy, with the exception that the drains were annoying.  I also had NO pain other than a tight, pulling feeling in my arm.  My surgeon gave me the very best advice ever about keeping the mobility and range of motion in the affected arm.  There is a little exercise called "walking the spider up the wall."  If no physician tells her about this, have her place her fingers of the affected arm on a wall and walk her fingers up and down the wall.  When she is able to shower, the warm water will aid in loosening up the underarm muscles and it's even easier then.
This is VERY important.  If she does this, she will be able, like always, to move her arm up down and all around just like she was able to before surgery.
Sending good thoughts to your mom, you and your family.
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