Thursday, May 27, 2021

Healing Continues...

(Written April 12, 2021)

It has been one month and three days since I had a lumpectomy. I'm healing steadily but much more slowly than I expected. Because of other folks' experiences and the fact that "lumpectomy" sounds like the minimally-invasive little sister of "mastectomy," I had the (erroneous) idea that I would be close to fully-healed in about two weeks. Nope. I was in a lot of pain and very frustrated about it for about three weeks, especially the lymph node removal scar below my armpit (pictured), which I did not expect to be as much of an issue as it was, but it was more painful than the lumpectomy. It's located where the top seam on just about every bra hits. Good times.

I never realized just how much of a blessing it would be to have people bring food for the first couple of weeks. I had bought "easy to cook" groceries, but the only cooking I could even wrap my head around was microwave reheating. The pain meds kept me on a sleep/wake merry-go-round, so I wasn't eating much, but I knew I needed to in order for my body to heal. My friend Mikki brought me the most delicious minestrone. I didn't get to see her when she dropped it off because I was asleep (she left it with a friend who lives in my apt. building), but that minestrone and some saltines sustained me for 3-4 days, bless her heart.

I was also very fortunate that my friend Elgin drove me to and from appointments and the pharmacy for over a week. One day too soon I decided to drive myself to the doctor and to run an errand afterwards and regretted it every time I went over a bump or hit a pothole (OUCH). I decided to check my independent spirit at the door for the time being and allow myself to be chauffeured as I convalesced.

About part-way through week 3, I was able to walk on my treadmill again. I wore a supportive sports bra and didn't push myself too much. I was able to walk for 15-20 minutes for the first couple of days, and within a week, I had worked my way up to 45-60. I found that decreased speed and increased elevation kept impact low while burning the same number of calories. 

The "little things" bring me joy. I normally sleep on my left side, which is the side where the surgery was done. When, after 3.5 weeks, I could sleep (carefully) on my left side again, I drifted off with a smile on my face. When I could drive without flinching at every bump in the road, I felt free again. When I stopped randomly falling asleep in the middle of the day, I knew that my body was on the path to wellness.

Now, at the beginning of week 5, I'm waiting to find out my oncotype score. If it's below 25, I won't need chemo and I can go straight to radiation. If above 25, it's chemo first, then radiation. I'm really hoping to not need chemo, but I'll do what needs to be done so that I can move forward and minimize the chance of recurrence.


P.S. - Added May 27: My score was 15, so I was able to skip chemo and go right to radiation. 

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