I can see without looking very hard, that not all cancer stories have a happy ending. My new friend in the bed next to me had been battling cancer for thirteen years, facing endless treatments for cancers popping up in different parts of her body. She still had a bubbly positive attitude, although she felt God had put her on the earth to torture her. I know she is not alone, in feeling like sickness and disease is God’s fault. I could only share my story with her. Being a person that has faith in God’s plan for my life I trust in His outcome. Just after being diagnosed I pulled out my Bible and sat in the quiet reading Psalm 91. Verse 14 seemed to jump out at me ‘Though a thousand fall at your side, and ten thousand are dying all around you, none of these evils will overtake you, Yvette’ I put my own name in to read it as a promise from God to me, from then on I felt completely peaceful, knowing that no matter what I go through in the next months, I will not be alone and I have a promise that I will be alright.
Before I came for surgery, Sarah and I had gone shopping to buy a pod machine for her Dad, this way he would still have good coffee while I was gone, and be able to make me one when I get back. We got a nice white Caffitaly machine with the breast cancer logo on the side. I thought it only right to support the cause. It was not until I got involved in the breast cancer world that I was aware how busy the surgeons and radiology fields are, in dealing with many many breast cancer patients, day after day.
I realised that having breast surgery, may pose some dressing problems. I own very few button down the front shirts or tops. Even if they only do a lumpectomy I will find it hard to pull tight tops over my head. As it turns out, the Physiotherapist does want you to lift your arms and do gentle exercise to keep everything moving, but, take it easy and don’t hurt yourself. There are websites dedicated to tops for after a mastectomy with little pockets to pop prosthetics, and the round ends of drainage tubes into. On a search, engine just type ‘What to Wear after a mastectomy’, for lots of ideas and sites to order from. Also breast cancer foundation WA has access to many resources. I did some online shopping from Target, which turned out to be very good. They have a couple of very inexpensive Bra styles for post surgery with no underwire to dig in to tender areas, and some do up in the front.
They proved to be invaluable after my operation. It always amazes me that our mothers warned us about strangers, yet when the Resident who could have been anyone, told me to take my top off so he could admire their work came to see me the morning after surgery, I flashed my boobs to him and his entourage without a second thought. He did say, put your bra on and leave it on, not because he was so shocked at what he saw (stop laughing, he didn’t say it immediately) but to help support the area. This was great advise. The support helped with the pain management. Mostly you do everything one handed, especially bending down which I tried to avoid, but did whilst holding the sore boob tightly as I bent over. While we are on the subject of pain, one of the sisters said good old paracetamol taken regularly is very effective in keeping the pain under control and she was right. I feel for ladies who have double mastectomies, that would be another ball game entirely. Apparently it hurts to sneeze for months and coping with a large expanse of your body in a very up front position which suddenly has no feeling must be strange. It actually hurts to sneeze or cough after any surgery, the Physio said to hug a pillow or yourself, that helps. Did you know they have pillows with an arm, how sad is that so you don’t have to feel lonely, you just snuggle in and pretend your partner is there. Mind you at least you don’t have to make the pillow breakfast.
They are very keen to preserve your breast if at all possible. They first remove the tumour with a section around it. If this section or margin is clear of cancer cells, all good. If one of the margins has cancer cells too close to the edge, they may go back in a slice a bit more off. If it has invaded too far then they may do a mastectomy. Now we just have to wait, it takes about 10 days to get all the results.