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BMX in 7 days and scared to death

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Topic: BMX in 7 days and scared to death
Posted By: kim13
Subject: BMX in 7 days and scared to death
Date Posted: Sep 20 2012 at 1:41pm
I'm scheduled for my BMX on the 27th and really starting to freak out.  Not sure what i'm giong to wake up to.  Hoping to wake up and have expanders in b/c that was my silver lining through out this entire horrible experience, but afraid i'm just going to have a flat chest.  As usual i'll deal with whatever is thrown at me, b/c isn't that what we cancer survivors do? 
Can any one lend any tips or tricks that made this scary step more bearable?  I've been told button front shirts and my mom has some little clippy things she got from a friend of hers for holding the drainage tubes, but other than that i'm pretty clueless.
Not sure how my 6 and 3 year olds are going to act when they see me, that kind of scares me.  I don't want them to think i look like some sort of monter or anything.
oh and ps ~ there really should be a tnbcf app for iphones.  i would post more if i didn't have to sit in front of the computer lol....
well the best to each and every one of you. 

3.7.12 Dx @ 37, IDC, Stage 2 grade3, ER-, PR-, Her2 -, 2.6cm x 2.4cm x2.4cm , 12 Taxols & 4 FACs, BRCA1 +, Bilateral Mastectomy 9.27.12, Complete Hysterectomy 10.22.12

Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 20 2012 at 3:15pm

I was scared too before the surgery.  I remember walking into the surgery center and shaking all over.  Looking back I wish I would have asked for some meds like Ativan to help with the presurgery anxiety.

Now I don't remember the surgery/recovery being that bad, but then my husband thinks us women have this special mechanism in our brain that allows us to forget painful things like childbirth.  Here's some advice that I'd like to pass on. 

1.  Stay on top of the pain meds.  The only time I remember being in terrible pain was when I fell asleep on the sofa and missed a pain pill.  I woke up crying in pain.  My husband gave me the pain meds and I felt immediate relief.  So my advice would be don't try to be too brave at first and skip a dose.  I was also given Valium for muscle relaxer.  They told me it will be my friend and it's important to keep those muscles relaxed.

2.  Don't pick up anything heavier than a milk jug for the first few weeks to a month.  Your surgeon will let you know the restrictions and how long to follow them.  You won't be able to reach up to get a glass out of the cabinet so it's a good idea to have a family member set out your glass, dishes in the morning so you won't attempt to reach for them if you are home alone.  My PS told me to think of your arms like "alligator or t-rex arms", where you keep the arms close to your side and just use the forearms to pick stuff up.

3.  Get a good stool softener, like collace.  The anesthesia and pain meds will cause constipation so you want to stay ahead of this problem. 

4.  It's a good idea to bring a recliner into the bedroom for the first couple of weeks.  It is not recommended using your arms to lift yourself out of bed.  A recliner is more comfortable (at first) to sleep in with pillows on each side.  I was told to not use the arms when getting out of bed or a chair.  You cross your arms and rock to lift yourself out and up.

5.  It sounds like you'll have something to use for the drain tubes.  We used a lanyard and safety pinned the tubes to the lanyard when I showered.

6.  My husband charted the daily drainage amounts from each tube and totaled them up each day.  I was in no shape to do the drains by myself the first week, so this was very helpful.  After the first week, I was able to milk the drain tubes myself. 

7.  We also kept a chart of the meds I was taking each day, the time the med was given and the time for the next dose.  It can be confusing because some are every 4 hours, 6 hours, etc and it's easy to forget or get the dosing mixed up.

My PS had a presurgery meeting with me where they gave me a booklet with all their instructions and what to expect for after the surgery.  It was very helpful and let me know what to expect following the surgery.

If I can think of anything else, I'll post again.  Good luck and you can get through this too.


DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

Posted By: kim13
Date Posted: Sep 20 2012 at 5:59pm
Thanks so much, Donna!  I'm going to print this out b/c my chemo brain won't allow me to remember a darn thing.  My mom and my husband will be taking care of me, so they'll probably like to know this too.
I so appreciate you!

3.7.12 Dx @ 37, IDC, Stage 2 grade3, ER-, PR-, Her2 -, 2.6cm x 2.4cm x2.4cm , 12 Taxols & 4 FACs, BRCA1 +, Bilateral Mastectomy 9.27.12, Complete Hysterectomy 10.22.12

Posted By: Natalie
Date Posted: Sep 20 2012 at 9:11pm

My local bc-coalition provided me with 2 of these camisoles. It made the drains very easy to lug around, it has pouches on the inside for the drains and soft too, this was all I wore with a larger shirt over it. Here is the link if you are able to get them :) -

I had my double Mastectomy on my birthday, I just went around saying I was getting new boobs for my bday, well I and others got a laugh out of it.
I really wasn't that bad, the nurses were wonderful and in very often to take care of the drains, ask if in pain, and when I needed to use the restroom they were johnny on the spot. Truly after the first day of so was the worst, after that I really didn't feel that bad. 

Don't fight using the pain meds at all, it really helps to stay ahead of it. I was so darned thirsty afterwards from the anestesia I kept a little cooler stocked with water next to my bed to save the trip to the kitchen.

Your kids are young, just tell them mommys not feeling well. Maybe you can ask them to help Dad or someone else make you toast or ask them for a bottle of water etc. They I am sure would love to help take care of you.

We had been through Chemo, this is a cake walk and the home stretch. As for the expanders? They only bothered me when getting filled for a day or so. As they got bigger I couldn't even lay on my side easily. They felt like bachi balls to me. I went with silicone.

Best wishes & happy healing.

TNBC stage1 size 1.8, grade3 no nodes 4/11 Lumpectomy 5/11 4cycles DD A/C 4cycles DD Taxol. Double Mastectomy 12/11 BRCA all neg

Posted By: Katdoll
Date Posted: Sep 21 2012 at 2:35am
A few more tips:

1. Buy some stretchy camisoles a size larger than you usually would so that you can "step in" to them rather than pull them on over your head. I found good ones at Nordstrom.

2. In the weeks post BMX I lived in zip-up hoodies and light fleece jackets layered over a camisole or stretchy tank. I found a couple pretty hoodies at Anthropologie.

3. Lots of zip up fleece jackets have pockets on the inside. I found these to be really great for holding my drains discretely, when I was out and about. I would wear a camisole or tank underneath so that the tubes could exit from the armholes, and I'd tuck the drains into the interior pockets. Another option for around the house is to wear a zip up hoodie that has kangaroo pockets but turn it inside out and store the drains in the pockets.

3. The pain was not anywhere near what I imagined it might be. It was totally manageable and I was off oxycodone after 4 days. The only thing that really hurt was getting up from a lying down position, because I was using my pec muscles. But I figured out a pain-free way to get up. Here's what you do. Draw your knees up toward your chest. Grasp the backs of your thighs about midway between your knees and butt. Now, slowly extend/straighten your legs outward. Your butt will act like a fulcrum and you will be slowly and gently pulled to a sitting position without having to use your pectoral muscles. Trust me, this works wonders. Practice it before your surgery.

4. Have lots of pillows, including, if you can one or two long "body" pillows, which are cheap at Target. You will want support in different places.

5. Have a basket that you can keep beside you on the bed with things you need close to hand, like lotion, TV remote, ipod, e-reader, etc. It's easer to access things just beside you than from a bedside table.

6. I know many women who've had BMX. For me and everyone I've spoken to, the days prior were hard, but there was a huge almost euphoric sense of relief on the other side of surgery. For me it was from the minute I woke up, even though I felt woozy and sore.

7. I second the suggestion to take Ativan the day of surgery, and earlier if you feel it will help manage anxiety. Your doctor should be supportive.

8. I kept waking up that first night in the hospital. I had some videos to watch on a DVD player and I was so glad for the distraction. It would have been hard to lie there with nothing to do.

9. I had expanders put in during the same surgery, but I was really skinny at the time (thin to start with and lost weight freaking out about everything) and there was not enough room to accommodate any saline, so I emerged from surgery flat. I was disappointed, but really it was not so bad. I wore a lot of zip up hoodies and blousy things for a while, which created the illusion of breasts. About 4-6 weeks after surgery I was able to have my first "fill" and start looking like I had breasts again.

10. Instead of telling your kids you'll have your breasts removed, you can tell them the "stuffing" will be taken out because it was making you sick, and you're going to get new stuffing.

11. Some women find expanders to be uncomfortable, not a shape they like, hard. Don't be discouraged. The implants are totally different - more comfortable, softer, more natural shape.

Hang in there sweetie, you are doing great and you will get through this okay. If you got through chemo you can definitely get through BMX.

Tested positive for BRCA1 mutation (187delAG) in 4/09 @ age 44; BSO 9/09; diagnosed w/TNBC in 10/09; 1 cm Stage 1 TNBC IDC, grade 3 + 1.5 cm DCIS; BMX 11/09, nodes clear; chemo (AC/T).

Posted By: susanb
Date Posted: Sep 21 2012 at 10:19am
Looking back I know that the BMX was the best choice I made. Not easy but it certainly saved my life. My breasts were homicidal and they had to go! Chemo was a lot tougher and I'll never really know whether I really needed it. Relax if you can and realize that you are making the smartest, life saving choice you can make for yourself. And all the above advice is great. One more- for a while I couldn't even open bottles of water so every morning before my husband would leave for work he would open a few bottles of water for me and put them next to the bed.

Dx June 06 stage 1 at age 46, no nodes, clean margins, Ki-67 at 54, Bilateral Mastectomy, 4 rounds AC, complete hysterectomy Aug O7. Mother and Grandmother both died of breast cancer dx in their 30's.

Posted By: ann u
Date Posted: Sep 21 2012 at 11:24am

All the responses are great -

I also got one of the long pillows at Target to help prop me up at night, and to keep me from rolling on my side.  I am a stomach/side sleeper, so I was not a happy camper for the 3-4 months of expanders!  The pillows are relatively inexpensive ($8-10), and I used two regular size pillowcases (one for each end) which saves some $$$ not having to buy the special size ones.
My PS said not to restrict your movements, just do them within reason.  I did not lift anything heavy for 4-6 weeks (and no housework, like vacuuming either - oh darn!!)  You have to take care of yourself first, and try not to worry about the things that aren't getting done.  Remember that you can always request some visits with a physical therapist after you heal if you feel you have limited range of motion.

8/06: IDC 1cm, 0/9 lymph nodes, lumpectomy, Mammosite radiation, 4 x A/C
5/07: BRCA1+ (5382insC)
11/09: IDC 3mm, double mastectomy w/reconstruction

Posted By: kirby
Date Posted: Sep 21 2012 at 3:24pm
There should also be tips in the resource area of this site for preparing for a bmx. A number of years ago a member compiled "lists" for everything, ready to print up. 


dx Feb. 2001. Age 44

2cm. no nodes stage 1 grade 3

4 rnds AC, 35 rads

Posted By: kim13
Date Posted: Sep 24 2012 at 10:34pm
Thanks ladies!  I've printed out everything so i can go over it and over it.  i'm leaving in a few hours for my 14 hour trip to MDA ~ yay! yeah not so much.  i'm still terrified, but thankfully i do have ativan to kind of chill me out. 
Well wishes to all of you :)

3.7.12 Dx @ 37, IDC, Stage 2 grade3, ER-, PR-, Her2 -, 2.6cm x 2.4cm x2.4cm , 12 Taxols & 4 FACs, BRCA1 +, Bilateral Mastectomy 9.27.12, Complete Hysterectomy 10.22.12

Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 24 2012 at 10:44pm

Keep us posted on how you're doing.  If you have any questions, just ask us and we'll be here to help.  Looking back at everything I've been through, I have to say the bi-mx was probably the easiest part.  


DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

Posted By: Grateful for today
Date Posted: Oct 07 2012 at 6:35pm

Wanted to leave you a message so when you next access the site you will have some good wishes
waiting for you.

Sending caring and positive thoughts and good healing wishes to you.

Grateful for today...............Judy

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