Awaiting results after surgery - Mjheke

MjhekeMjheke ACTMember Posts: 78
edited November 2018 in Newly diagnosed
Hi all,

I am so pleased to be provided with information for this online support community! I was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 days ago and it has all been very fast moving and overwhelming since then. 

I went to see my GP about a lump that my husband had found, and having been diagnosed with fibrocystic disease of the breasts previously, I was just expecting the same results as previous investigations. This being a cyst. My mammogram did not show any obvious tumour, in fact was told that it ‘just looked like another cyst’, so that after I had the ultrasound she would drain it for me. 

I knew as soon as the sonographer started, something was not right. It revealed I had a suspicious lump that I then had biopsies done that day. I was told she had concerns it was cancerous, and it was. I was blown away. I am 49 and had gone through this with my sister 9 years ago when she was 41. I was encouraged to have an MRI breast as the imaging was not great for either the mammogram or ultrasound. It showed the tumour to be bigger than originally thought with another satellite tumour 1cm from this. I was so pleased to have had this done as the surgeon said it was helpful in planning my surgery. 

Yesterday I had a wide excision, sentinel node biopsy and R breast mastopexy.  That was the longest day of my life! I am so pleased that part is over. Results hopefully tomorrow and then a plan from there. The waiting is the hardest part so far for me. 

I will have to go back to work financially. I am just wondering at others experience at returning to work after surgery and also returning to driving?

Thanks in anticipation,
Michelle x


  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,916
    @Mjheke welcome to the forum. I had a right sided mastectomy with auxiliary lymph node removal and it took about 2 weeks before I would drive and then I used my little pillow that I was provided by my breastcare nurse and put it between the surgery side and seatbelt. My breastcare nurse told me you are ready to drive again when u think u could tolerate the seatbelt digging into u if u had to stop suddenly. I returned to work about 3 weeks after surgery on restricted duties as I have quite a physical job. Hope you continue to heal well and good luck for your results xoxo
  • MjhekeMjheke ACTMember Posts: 78
    Thanks Kiwi angel, 

    i have a very physical role also, but fortunately work has the capability to put me on light duties for a while. At this stage I am hoping to go back mid next week. 8 days post surgery. I’m not sure if this seems too soon? I suppose this is all very individual. Although of course that may depend on the results and further treatment. At this stage I will definitely be having radiotherapy. I have had quite a large section of my breast removed, and at this stage very bruised, swollen and sore. It is hard to think ahead to understand how I may feel next week. To be honest at this stage I don’t feel like going back at all! But it is all a bit overwhelming. 
    Michelle. X
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,604
    I went back to work a week after left mastectomy and axillary clearance but I am a non driver, so didn't have that concern. Return to work dates vary a lot depending on the type of work, your mobility, 
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,604
    ...and how you feel about what your treatment plan will be. Best wishes. 
  • BettybooBettyboo Member Posts: 33
    Hi Michelle, it is amazing how fast it all moves after the initial diagnosis isnt it? I feel for you, and good luck for the results. Its amazing what women can deal with, and still hold down a full-time job, not forgetting family and children. The stories on this forum are amazing. Can you take some time off to look after you? 
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,215
    edited November 2018
    Hi Michelle - gosh - it is all such a roller coaster of emotions & pain ....  I was like you, expecting mine to be just a cyst (as had been diagnosed a few times over the last 40 years) but not so this time.  

    All the best for your results xxx   I hope you have lots of family & friends giving you emotional & physical assistance at this time.  Make sure you take the pain meds at the specified times for a while yet - you don't want to pain to kick in 100% or it may take longer to control!
    Re Driving .... yep 'as you feel up to it' - but beware of any bumps in the road ..... the breast will remain 'tender' for some time - and doesn't like bouncing over bumpy roads!  I learned quickly where all ours are & would hold my breast to give it support as I went over them!

    Re going back to work - do you have any sick leave or holidays that you can 'call in' for your recovery period?  Make sure you are fit enough, before coming back to full-time.  

    If you are having radiation - that usually entails daily visits Mon-Fri for 4 weeks or longer.   Are you close to the facility that you are likely to be attending?  Many attend whilst working, as it is often just an hour out of your day -  tho it can also be fatiguing, particularly after it is finished.  Most 'sail thru it' - but there is an emotional side too that I had not expected.

    Out of interest - Have you you been advised whether you have dense breast tissue or not?  It sounds like you might.  Dense Breast tissue shows up as 'white' on Mammograms (as does cancer tumours) which is why they are difficult to pick up with standard scans.  There has been much discussion on our ''right to be advised'' when having mammograms, as a delay in diagnosis can lead to bigger tumours being found 'later'!

    take care, all the best xx

  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,434
    Welcome! I can't answer your question as I ended up with 2 surgeries and other treatments, keeping me off for 10 months.  Do be aware that their is often an emotional and mental recovery time as well.  For some, going back to work is essential for this, but please go as easy on yourself as you are able 
  • MjhekeMjheke ACTMember Posts: 78
    Thank you lovelies for your input. I really appreciate it. 
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,655
    @Wonk, @BroniD, @CathyMac, here's another newly diagnosed forum member. You'll be a fabulous foursome. Hang in there lovelies. K xox
  • MjhekeMjheke ACTMember Posts: 78
    Thanks @kmakm
    I am new to the forum scene so am still working out how to navigate my way around!

    I am now post surgery as of Monday. It has all happened very quickly and I have so far found it easier to take one day at a time, some days ok, some days very hard. I live in Brisbane and we are new to the area we live in, so don’t have a lot of local support (I am originally from New Zealand). 

    It it will be amazing to have some support during this time and advice as I need it. 
    M x
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,655
    Hi J. It is indeed an absolute whirlwind when you're diagnosed. My tumour was out the very next day! Which was a great relief to me at the time I must say.

    We have the lovely @Kiwi Angel here, another ex pat from NZ. She will get what it is you're going through with that extra bit of shared background! She and @Eastmum both worked through their treatment this year.

    One day at a time is the way to go. Good on you for managing that. K xox
  • SuzieJuliaSuzieJulia Member Posts: 1
    Hi Michelle, all the best to you with your treatment plan and also returning back to work (which I'm sure can't be easy). I was diagnosed with BC a month ago and 'left' work immediately (I'm hoping to return next year)...As a teacher, I felt it would have been too difficult for me to manage a class of students (although I'm sure there are lots of brave souls who do!) 
    I initially felt a lump which was followed up with a core needle biopsy - this lump turned out to be nothing but a cyst, but whilst the radiologist was checking the 'films' she saw another area she wasn't sure about  :o I ended up going back for a 2nd core needle biopsy - not a cyst this time, but IDC!
    With my treatment plan, I was unable to have radiation as I've had it in the same area previously (for Hodgkin's Lymphoma), so we had to be a bit more radical, hence being booked in for a mastectomy..Although the other side was okay, I've chosen to have a prophylactic mastectomy on that side too - I want to reduce the chances of getting this again as much as possible!  :)
    I'll have my double mastectomy on 23 November, so the time is getting closer now. At this stage my surgeon doesn't think I'll need chemo, but I think it will depend on what everything looks like once it's out.

    Wishing you & all the other brave gals out there a smooth & 'peaceful' journey with the decisions you have to make  <3

    Suzanne Xx
  • MjhekeMjheke ACTMember Posts: 78
    Thanks @arpie
    Yes, I had been told I had dense breast tissue. I had previously been diagnosed with fibrocystic disease also-i have multiple cysts that go up and down between each mammogram. I have had a look at the link and it certainly applies to me.I had a clear mammogram in November last year and was due for my screening mammogram this year as my sister had breast cancer at 41yrs and I require yearly screening. Had I not felt the lump I feel I would still be un-diagnosed, as even my surgeon said he couldn't see it on the mammogram and was difficult to see on ultrasound-Hence the recommendation for MRI-It was clearly visible on the contrast MRI, but also helped exclude other tumours. 

    My apologies for not responding sooner but it has not been an easy week, post-surgery. Mainly emotionally and although have been looking and reading the forum and replies, I have just not felt up to responding...

    I am pretty much on my own here in Brisbane as we have not built up a network of support yet-we have friends, but not good friends that I would feel comfortable asking for help. I have been lucky that my Mum has come over for the week from NZ and I have an amazing husband. However he does work in a role that he is unable to take loads of time off work either. 

    I am having radiotherapy and am awaiting a call from the Radiation oncologist this week. I see the surgeon for a follow-up appointment tomorrow. I had a wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy-2 nodes and a round block mastopexy because they took a large amount of breast as the MRI had showed that I had a satellite tumour out from the known mass. Because it was in the same area he took the nodes via the same excision, which has unfortunately made me more bruised and sore than having a second excision for the sentinel nodes. The results so far have been positive-I have an ER+ and PR+ breast cancer with Her 2 negative. Margins are clear. Nodes are clear. I do however have LCIS throughout the whole sample which I have done a bit of research about this, which may increase my risk in the future. I will see what the surgeon says about this tomorrow.

    @SuzieJulia , @Bettyboo @Sister @Afraser
    on my return to work. I am a nurse, I have a pretty physical role-I am also scared, as likely you are post-surgery a bit scared of someone knocking my breast accidentally. It is still quite painful despite keeping on top of my pain relief.  But to be honest I really don't want to return to work at all! I am however unable to financially afford this option, so will return reluctantly next week. I will now though look at alternative roles as I have not been enjoying nursing for a while and would love a change... Any ideas would be most welcome! Ha Ha....
    Thanks again all for your love and support! 
    Michelle xx

  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,604
    Always good to know what you want and don't want. I was keen to keep working as I enjoyed my job...and I also changed it a year after diagnosis. While I enjoyed it, I had been doing it for along time. Realising with a bang that my time is finite (not because of cancer, but because it always was!) I decided to do something new when the opportunity arose, and to move to a 4 day week (at 68) to give myself more time for other things. It's not a recommended way to re-evaluate what work means and what you most want to do, but it can work. Best wishes.
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,916
    @Mjheke - where about in NZ are you from?  I spent most of my childhood in Oamaru and then moved to Christchurch where I lived until I moved over here about 12 years ago when I met my Aussie husband.  I worked as much as I could during chemo.  I would have Monday off to have chemo and then would work Tuesday, Wednesday then off until the following Monday (or Tuesday/Wednesday for the last 2 cycles) and then normally in between.  I had TC chemo and everyone reacts differently - some people who had my chemo said they physically couldn't of worked. I found it kept me sane and took my mind of my problems - it did get a little harder with the cumulative effects of the chemo but work was fantastic to me during it all.xoxox
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