Your First Appointment
It is always confronting to hear that you need to have part or all of your breast removed. It is physically and emotionally tough on you and your loved ones. It’s natural and normal for you to feel sad and afraid, and that you grieve your breast if a mastectomy is needed.
A breast cancer diagnosis can make you feel very vulnerable and fearful, and it can be hard to think straight. At my practice, we work with an extended team of people specialising in caring for women with breast cancer. Together, we will do our best to support you through the tough decisions you must take, especially if the recommended treatment is to remove part or all of your breast. It’s a high price to pay, but it is life saving surgery.
One of our priorities will be to connect you with a psychologists specialising in breast cancer and will ensure that you get the emotional support you need to come to terms with your diagnosis, treatment and changes to your body, including saying goodbye to your breasts.
In the week before surgery, we will endeavour to get you an appointment with our breast care nurse. She is an expert and a great source of emotional support, so please feel free to talk to her about any concerns or questions you have. They may help you choose a bra and will talk to you about post-operative care.
THE DAY BEFORE SURGERY
This is when the prospect of your surgery starts to get very real. It’s a good idea to spend the day with a loved one and bring them to any appointments you may have.
It might be necessary for you to attend an appointment to get some dye injected into your breast or to have a hook wire placed. The purpose of the dye is to help me to locate your lymph nodes during the operation. Once the dye has been injected, you’ll have a scan which will show where your lymph nodes are positioned. The technician will mark your breast and place some tape on you to guide me when you are in theatre.
THE DAY OF SURGERY
On the day of surgery, you will be admitted to hospital, you’ll be asked a whole bunch of questions over and over. It’s how we make sure that the correct person gets the correct surgery.
You will meet your anaesthetist, who will ask you some questions that will help us keep you safe while you are unconscious. This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions. It’s a good idea to write these down beforehand, in case you forget.
When you get to the operating theatre, it can be cold, so we will get you a warm blanket to wrap around you to keep you comfortable and covered.
The final step before entering the operating room, is that I will need to draw some markings and take some measurements of your breasts. It’s pretty confronting, but it is a really important part of planning your surgery to get the best outcome.
While you are in surgery, I may may perform a ‘frozen-section’, meaning i will remove your sentinel lymph node so it can be examined under a micro-scope for any signs of cancer. What we find will tell me whether or not it’s necessary to remove the lymph nodes in your armpit.
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room until you wake up from your general anaesthetic, and then you’ll be taken to your ward.
You may or may not want to look at your chest yet. Naturally some women find the prospect upsetting. You should do this in your own time. Everyone is different, and you should let those looking after you know your preference.
Recovery from breast surgery will take a while, so even after you leave hospital you should take it easy. Try and do a little light exercise each day, like going for a walk. It will help you to recover faster.
Also, remember that your emotional wellbeing is as important as your physical wellbeing. You will have been through a very traumatic experience.
Let people take care of you.
Rest and heal.
Level 1, 256 Norton St
Leichhardt NSW 2040
Strathfield Private Hospital
3 Everton Rd,
Strathfield NSW 2135
General Surgery Outpatient Clinic, 1W, Level 1, Concord Hospital, Hospital Rd
Concord NSW 2139