Monday, December 06, 2010

It forever changes you

I spend A LOT of time reading stories of other's touched by breast cancer.

To say some of their stories have been an inspiration in my life would be an understatement.

But with the good, comes the bad.

Getting through this process isn't all up's.

I've read of so many women and have suffered from a few of these post-op complications:

Infection, including redness and swelling of the incision with pus or foul-smelling drainage, perhaps with fever. Antibiotics can be used to treat post-surgical infections.

Lymphedema, the swelling of the arm and/or hand on the side of the surgery due to the removal of the lymph nodes under the arm. Lymphedema often goes away on its own, but sometimes requires treatment. Treatment is usually provided by physical or occupational therapists and includes:

Manually draining the fluid.

Caring for the skin.

Exercising the arm.

Wearing compression bandages to keep the swelling from recurring.

Seroma, which is accumulation of fluid in the location of the surgery. While most of the time the fluid is absorbed by the body, the area can be drained using a needle if it does not go away.

Other complications may include stiffness of the shoulder and possible numbness or altered sensation in the upper arm or armpit.

There's also the mental drain the process takes on you.

From finding the initial lump(s), to getting biopsies, meeting with the oncologist, breast surgeon, and plastic surgeon, to going through the reconstruction process, and then finally getting reconstructed and looking in the mirror and seeing breasts that WILL NEVER be the same.

Being on restrictions....not being able to lift your small children, drive, vacuum, put dishes away.

The scars may may eventually find peace....but you will forever be changed.

Cancer knows no age!

It doesn't matter if you're a child, a young mother, a sister, a daughter, a spouse, a father, an aunt, a grandmother.  

Cancer doesn't care if you watched your mother bury her sister the week before you found your lump.

It doesn't care if 5 people in your family have had cancer before you or if no one has.

If I could influence anyone on anything it would be do your monthly checks, go to the doctor if you suspect something isn't right.  You can't ever be too cautious.

If you know someone going through cancer supportive, be there to listen, be a shoulder to cry on, and try not to take their fluctuating moods personally.

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