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SylvaSylva Member Posts: 3
Hi, I don’t want to write an essay here but I feel like I have a lot to fit in. I’m 58 and I was diagnosed back on October 14th. I’ve had a delay as I caught a virus which as I have COPD hospitalised me and then the steroids they treated it with gave me pancreatitis. I have been started on letrozole and it’s terrifying me as I have very severe osteoporosis...which has caused over the past 16 years 11 femur fractures (all requiring surgery), 3 broken arms, numerous broken ribs, a broken heel and I have lost all my teeth. My spine is so bent it’s pushing on my lungs and causing the COPD and I can no longer hold my head up straight as my neck is damaged. Unfortunately I also have psoriatic arthritis which has badly affected my feet and lower legs. I have been permanently in a wheelchair for the last year. My surgeon has told me that as I’m having treatment for the osteoporosis (finally) the benefits of letrozole outweigh the risks.
So my surgery is scheduled for December 16th and I feel like it’s been on the backburner and now it’s getting real. I’m having a mastectomy on my right breast and removal of all the lymph nodes. I have a large tumour and I’ve chosen mastectomy as surgery itself is a bit challenging with COPD and I was told I’m not a candidate for chemotherapy. My surgeon said it was the option with the chance of less follow up treatment. I’m also not a candidate for reconstruction which shouldn’t matter but makes me feel quite unhappy. I’m really frightened of losing my breast.....I thought I would be okay as I’ve lost so much of myself because of illness but I’m not okay. I keep thinking what will I wear and how will I hide my missing boob? When inside I’m terrified of the whole thing. The drains, the recovery, which they’ve told me may take me longer, everything. I’ve had too much time, I’ve read so much and watched a lot and I’m overwhelmed. 


  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,889
    Dear @Sylva

    Time to stop reading and watching perhaps. Some information can be helpful, too much is simply overwhelming, as you have found. You have had a very tough time and you deserve better but the important thing right now is to complete the surgery and do all you can to get cancer out of your life. A mastectomy is rarely painful and while a loss of lymph nodes can mess around with nerve endings, the result is often a temporary loss of feeling rather than pain. It’s important however that you do the exercises recommended, even when you don’t feel like it, to keep your arm’s mobility normal. I have had one boob for nine years now - I wear a false breast, I find it easy and simple. No-one knows unless I want them to. Recovery varies from person to person, but you can get through this. But doing it on your own is often hard - do you have someone you can rely on for help or support? Have you thought of a referral to a counsellor to help with the emotional side of all this? I was a healthy, active 67 year old at diagnosis, but I found a few sessions with a counsellor immensely helpful - cancer affects everything, if you let it, and someone experienced and knowledgeable can help you not be overwhelmed. Your GP should be able to provide a referral. The best thing you can do over the next two weeks is find ways of approaching the next step as calmly as possible. Seek some help if you can, sit in the sun, empty your mind, breathe deeply,  concentrate on the here and now. Deal with things as they happen, sometimes the things we most fear never happen at all. Best wishes. 
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 787
    Hi @Silva, sorry you are in this situation. You certainly have had a bad run with your health.  I do understand what that can be like and my 50's have been plagued with health issues and multiple surgeries.

    You can do this, you have to get through it, get all those health things sorted and start healing. Big breaths in, try not to over think, calm that brain down. It is normal to get overwhelmed. You are getting way too ahead of yourself. One step at a time. Deep breaths and do that often. 

    @Fraser sums it all up very well and makes good suggestions including seeing a counsellor who can give you something strategies to get through all this. 

    Wishing you all the best. 
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,122
    edited November 2021
    Golly Gosh, @Silva - you've certainly been thru the wringer with all your health problems & to receive the BC diagnosis on top, is just SO TOUGH.   

    The girls have made very valid points.  Try not to over think it all ..... take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, if necessary.  Definitely stop using Dr Google & Youtube too!   Everyone's case is different & a lot of stuff is old & outdated & downright scary!!   

    Definitely ask your cancer centre/GP for a referral to a counsellor and in the mean time, ring the Helpline (phone number at the top of the page) and you will receive support and guidance there too. xx

    re being worried about being a uni-boober ... that is perfectly understandable and the counsellors will be able to give you coping strategies help you work thru this sadness.  That puppy isn't doing you any favours, so having it out will give you peace of mind - and not requiring further surgery is a bonus, specially with your COPD.  Many women have to wait to have reconstruction and then decide not to go ahead with it, after 'getting used' to being a uni-boober .... You will still be the same person AFTER the surgery that you are now xx

    Jump onto this thread - lots of info on other areas of BCNA to check out - and what to take with you to surgery ..... we even have some 'funny pages' to give you a laugh & a lift - which we all need when facing this diagnosis. xx

    Yep, lots of deep breaths .... time to pull the 'big girl pants on' ..... 

    Take care and all the best for your surgery xx
  • AllyJayAllyJay Member Posts: 870
    Hi there @Sylva...I'm so sorry you've had to join our club and than you are feeling so overwhelmed. I hope I don't come across as someone who's trying to beat you in the "Who's got it worse" competition, but I too have a number of health issues, some very similar to yours. My intention is to reassure you that even us "old crocks' (me, not you), can keep on keeping on. I also had terrible osteoporosis even before diagnosis. Not as bad as yours, to be sure, but I have had two spontaneous rib fractures without apparent injury. I also have three autoimmune diseases...all connective tissue diseases which cause major issues. You mention that you have psoriatic arthritis, which, as you know, is an autoimmune disease. I'm on more tablets than I can count for these as well as letrozole, which you'll be starting. I have a wheeled walking frame, so not a wheelchair yet, but my one other condition has me with interstitial lung disease, which is progressing, and will probably leave me in one too. I have a prolia injection every six months for my bones, and all my readings on the osteoporosis charts have improved. I have no problems with the prolia, other than a headache the day following the injection. I've been on the letrozole since mid 2017 and none of my joint, muscle, tendon or skin issues are any worse than I would have expected over four years. I had both boobs off in 2017, with node clearance on the left side and sentinel node on the right. I found the surgery to be less painful than when I had my appendix our when I was sixteen...those days a good six inch cut. It's by no means easy, but as arpie often says, this disease messes with your head more than anything else. The advice given so far by the other members is gold, and I hope my five cents worth will set your mind at ease as far as dealing with this on top of life altering other medical conditions. It's not as easy as for those entering the shitfest with strong and healthy bodies (other than the cancer of course). You're not alone, and we'll all be here to cheer you on from the sidelines, and to be a listening ear when you need one too. Big hug...Ally.
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 787
    Your ok @Sylva. You're overwhelmed not sorry for yourself.  There is no judgement here. Health issues are exhausting and it's ok to just get fed up with it all.  Your allowed to vent etc. For me each time I hear I have some new health issue to battle I tend to feel a bit defeated, then as I am sure you do, I put on my big girl pants and get on with it. Take care 💐
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