We’re on a mission to help you to live an active and healthy life during cancer treatment, to empower you actively to cope with the cancer journey.
The recipies we are sharing are part of that, and here is a great list of things to do (and not to do) to make your journey easier.
- talk with your loved ones about your feelings of loss, speak to other breast cancer survivors, find support online
- get adequate pain medication
- contact your doctor or nurse when you develop problems
- massage the scars daily, dry or gently with a non-irritating skin oil. There’s a good video here to help you.
- get information of breast prosthesis and options (cansa.org.za, www.reach4recovery.org.za)
- eat healthy, stay active
- do shoulder exercises
- push yourself: be mild and accept the pace your body is healing at
- lift or carry anything heavy for the first few weeks after surgery. This includes vacuuming, shopping and lifting a full kettle or a child.
Watch out for:
If your operation site becomes red, inflamed, or painful, or there is a fluid (discharge) leaking from your wound site, you may have an infection. Contact your surgeon or breast care nurse immediately. If you have an infection, you will need antibiotics to clear it up.
Fluid collecting around the operation site (seroma)
Sometimes fluid continues to collect near the wound after your wound drains have been taken out. This is called a seroma. It causes swelling and pain and can increase the risk of infection. The fluid usually goes away on its own. Sometimes a nurse needs to drain the fluid off with a needle and syringe. They may need to do this a few times.
For some women, the fluid takes a long time to go. It can take up to a few months after your surgery.
You may have numbness or tingling in your upper arm, particularly if you had your lymph nodes removed. This is normal and happens because some nerves are cut during the operation and need to repair themselves. It can take a few weeks or months to go. If it continues, get in touch with your breast care nurse or surgeon.
Swelling of your arm or hand
You may have some swelling in your arm or hand after your operation. This is normal. But it should start to go away as you do the exercises (see below) to get back the movement of your shoulder and arm.
If you continue to get a lot of swelling, heaviness, pain or tenderness in your arm or hand, let your breast care nurse or surgeon know as soon as possible. After surgery or radiotherapy to the armpit, there is a risk of developing permanent swelling called lymphoedema. Once you have lymphoedema it can’t be cured but early treatment can effectively control it. Look at the information about lymphoedema page for ways of preventing lymphoedema.
Scar tissue in the armpit (cording)
Some women develop scar tissue in the armpit (axilla), which forms a tight band. This can happen 6 to 8 weeks after the operation. The scar tissue is called cording or banding and can feel something like a guitar string. Cording is harmless but can be uncomfortable. It can get better after some time if you massage the area of the scar tissue. Your specialist nurse or a physiotherapist can teach you how to do this.
This great advice was shared with us by the fabulous physiotherapist Liesbeth Raymakers