Wishing you the best! I had a double mastectomy 16 years ago...one breast
was for sure and the other preventative and breast reconstruction started at the same time. Was riding 3 weeks later although I had to use a mounting block to put the saddle on. Just walked and trotted for a while, but my normally spooky old man was a rock. The arena where he was boarded had a marvelous view of Pikes Peak (we lived in Colorado).
The oncologist decided no chemo or radiation as it had been caught so early (had bumped the breast hard with carry a box around a corner that I didn't quite clear). We also put our house on the market shortly afterward to buy
a horse property so all the window washing, polishing furniture was good for the
arms and my surgeon said I had the best range of motion she had ever seen in
a double mastectomy patient. Brushing horse also probably helped.
I still see the oncologist yearly and make the trek back to Denver to do so. He's definitely a doc I didn't want to change. Thank goodness DH has pass
privileges with the airline he works for.
Thank you everyone. I did not care for the onocologist's ...I met them briefly a couple weeks ago...but my insurance pays for that center VS. self pay or driving and 80 mile round trip. The local onocologist's are about 3 miles from my home. I have selected an experienced surgeon 100 miles away though.
3 more days.......
I was told I would not be able to use my arm for at least 3 weeks...I was told not lifting, no leading my horse, etc.
Last edited by Cfourhorses; Jun. 28, 2011 at 08:47 AM.
Wishing you the best!
Re the hair loss. Since I was getting 4 chemo sessions, each 3 weeks apart, I was told my hair would fall before the 2nd one. I truly did not want to wake up with my hair on my pillow... so I ordered a wig to look like my hair and it came in one week before the 2nd session. I had my hair shaved then! It felt like I was in control. A friend and my then 12 yo daughter decided they wanted to come with me and this was the most liberating moment of the whole experience. I had wondered how I would be able to take the wig off at home... it was easy! My daughter has been my best friend since then.
My friends took turns coming to the chemo sessions with me and that was a great help too. We were all in the same room, but having someone to chat with helped me not look at other patients much sicker than I was.
I don't know if you have a similar program in the US, but we have the "Look Good, Feel Better" program in Canada. It was marvelous ... you go, learn to apply make up to make you look better... and feel better obviously and you go home with a full box of beautiful cosmetic samples, all free. Everyone in that room had had chemo/cancer, etc., and everyone was laughing, enjoying themselves and really looking better and feeling better. It was a wonderful day!!!
You lose your hair, but I still had to shave my legs which was unexpected! You still have to be careful with using your surgical arm (side of the breast surgery), no heavy lifting, no shopping bag around the wrist, no needle (I still do not allow blood taken from that arm). You do not want to deal with lymphedema.
I loved my surgeon, he was my rock during all that time. Always making time for me, giving me his home phone number. He and his wife always inquired about the horse. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago from brain cancer and his wife (who was his receptionist) had an aneurysm and was quite handicapped after that. My oncologist was a wonderful down to earth woman, young but with grey hair which she refused to dye. "When I see what my patients have to endure, I can't be vain and colour my hair to look better!" She looked great though. Her husband was also an oncologist and he was candy for the eyes and also so nice!!
I, too, did not like my oncologist at first. My surgeon was very businesslike, and told me to make the decision about chemo as a business decision--get as many numbers regarding success rates and make a decision based on those. Appealed to me, as a phyical scientist and mathematician. The oncologist, a woman from Poland, was totally wishy-washy, did all of her thinking out loud, and left me on Friday afternoon saying "well, think about it and let me know what you decide" having given me no data to work with. But, she was very intuitive, in a very feminine way. Cancer is a crapshoot, it's different for each person--what could be better than good intuition? I have both Drs following me, so I get both perspectives, and I feel it all turned out as well as possible (knock wood ... ).
The advise you're getting in terms of activity after surgery is somewhat affected by where in the breast your surgery is. It also seems that there is a lot of variability in what Drs believe about post-op care. You will have worse scarring if your are over-active--it's pretty soft tissue and any pulling on the incision will increase the scarring, so keep that in mind. You have to use your judgement about how quickly you want to be back up to speed versus how you want the results to look and feel afterward. I don't recall ever discussing it with my Drs re the horses. I told them that I had help lined up for farm work and wasn't planning to ride in the Olympics that summer (joke, that) so I'd just feel my way through it and that was fine. The oncologist did mumble at one point that she didn't think I should be around horses; I said that wasn't an option, and that was the end of the discussion. Just remember that your immune system is totally wiped out after chemo, so you do have to be careful; also depends on how well you tolerate the meds they give to rebuild the immune system. Be sensible, there, because the consequences if you get an infection can really mess things up (I'm talking during chemo, should you have that, not post-op).
More than you wanted to know at this point, again.
Just be well, *GOOD LUCK*, and we'll be holding you in our thoughts--
"One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine
Hey, I just saw your post. Been there, done that, like many of the other posters here. You're definitely not alone. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.
GOOD LUCK on your surgery. I know it's terrifying to have the day get closer and closer, but I found that the hardest thing was just walking into the hospital to get the ball rolling.
In answer to your questions, I got back on the horse (proverbial and otherwise) a month after a double mastectomy and, while I took it slow, it felt great to ride throughout the six months of my treatment. I did six rounds of chemo and rode every day except the 3-4 days following an infusion. My doctor encouraged me to get exercise and get out but, like others have said, everyone is different and doctors have differing opinions on this. I did wear a dust mask while grooming, which someone on COTH recommended when I asked similar questions to the ones you're posing now.
As a side note, I have a little surgery fashion tip: go get yourself a couple of the cotton zip-up-the-front lightweight yoga sweatshirts from Old Navy. They have two interior pockets (one sewn on each side of the front zipper), and they were perfect for holding the drain balls that you'll have in for a week or so after your surgery. Those pockets were the perfect size and shape and the zip-front was perfect for when you're still getting your range of motion back.
Hang in there, and feel free to PM with any questions. There's no getting around it, it sucks, but I found that I just had to get through each hurdle and now I'm back to normal life on the other side. You will be, too!
I am glad you reported your progress so far, will hope and pray for a smooth and speedy recovery from surgery. I have been blessed so far not to have that particular problem, but did have open heart surgery a year ago January so can empathize with the stress and coping with an invasive surgery.
There is an organization that was created by and mostly geared toward the saddle seat show breeds but is doing some cool stuff to fundraise for breast cancer research. Even though it may not be your chosen equestrian discipline, maybe looking at what UPHA is doing may be inspiring? https://www.facebook.com/pages/UPHA-...583555?sk=wall
I have often wondered if this is something that could become a trend in other types of horse competitions, not just saddle seat, to have a designated 'pink ribbon' class.
Good luck and keep us posted!
Last edited by sdlbredfan; Jul. 5, 2011 at 08:12 AM.
Reason: improve content
RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.
On a scale of 1-10, (10 being best news), I woul consider myself an 8. On 7/29 I need more surgery as the surgeon was not comfortable w/ 1 of the 4 margins. And the cancer had become "invasive" in 2 areas...he said it is not a well behaved cancer and is aggressive..but... we have it pretty early. Lymph nodes clear. Surgeon not sure about radiation VS. chemo....onchologist's will have to decide as it did start being "invasive" and is an aggressive type so chemo a possibility...but all in all good news...still a bit more to go!! If chemo they would like me to come up there to Strong for chemo treatments, 200 mile round trip. Will meet the onchologist's up there sometime in Aug.
Report reads: Ductal carcinoma in situ with microinvasion (A10, A28).
Tumor size 5.7 cm
Nuclear grade 3
Solid & cibriform
Estrogen receptor negative
Microinvasion 2 foci measuring 1mm each
closest margin <1mm
They forgot to check for HER -2...next surgery they will.