Treatment

Will Breast Cancer Treatment Hurt?: Pain Management

Phyllis Johnson Health Guide July 11, 2010
  •   "Will I die?"  That's the first question that occurs to most people when they find out they have breast cancer.  The answer is, "Of course you will die, but probably not for a long time."  There is an excellent survival rate for breast cancer these days.  Most women live t...

8 Comments
  • PJ Hamel
    Health Guide
    Jul. 13, 2010

    I love your points of emphasis - Take your pain meds even when you don't think you need them. DON'T keep a stiff upper lip. Ask for help. Complementary therapies.

     

    We all manage to cobble together our own ways of dealing with pain - a little Reiki, some prayer, a morphine drip... different strategies work together to reduce discomfort as much as possible....

    RHMLucky777

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    I love your points of emphasis - Take your pain meds even when you don't think you need them. DON'T keep a stiff upper lip. Ask for help. Complementary therapies.

     

    We all manage to cobble together our own ways of dealing with pain - a little Reiki, some prayer, a morphine drip... different strategies work together to reduce discomfort as much as possible. Thanks for putting all this good advice together in one package! PJH

    • sandi
      Jul. 15, 2010

      I seem to have pain from the radiation. Not sure why. It is 6 months now since I finished. I have many hard areas and when I stretch or lift my arm to high it pulls and hurts. I will be going to see the radiaologist next week to see if this is nothing. Of course I worry at times. Even others who have gone through this ask why I would still have pains when...

      RHMLucky777

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      I seem to have pain from the radiation. Not sure why. It is 6 months now since I finished. I have many hard areas and when I stretch or lift my arm to high it pulls and hurts. I will be going to see the radiaologist next week to see if this is nothing. Of course I worry at times. Even others who have gone through this ask why I would still have pains when they do not. Because I am me. I hope that I will get better and the pain lessens. I went for a swim and dove in. The pain of hitting the water on my breast was a lot. So, no diving for me. I do get in the water and do what I can. Once I see him next week I will feel better. Till then I wonder why and worry a bit.

    • ng10
      Jul. 15, 2010

      I am a physicl therapist who works with breast cancer related conditions and there is DEFINITELY things we can do to help. Find a good PT in your area who has experience with post radiation skin changes. or check the APTA website. You do not have to live like this.

    • sandi
      Jul. 15, 2010

      thank you. I did not know that physio would help. I will request it for sure. Will it help with the new texture of my skin. Around my nipple it feels like leather, also there are lots of thick parts to my breast now.

    • ng10
      Jul. 15, 2010

      it can help with tissue texture changes but I agree with Phyliss, try to find someone who has worked with breast cancer patients before. Also as much as it helps to speak to other patients, she is right everyone is different so try not to compare too much. Good Luck

       

    • Phyllis Johnson
      Health Guide
      Jul. 15, 2010

      I definitely concur with ng10's suggestion that you see a physical therapist, preferably one who works regularly with breast cancer patients.  Try not to compare your recovery to other people's.  Everyone's surgery and radiation is different as are healing times.  Your skin may be more sensitive to radiation and your surgery may have been more...

      RHMLucky777

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      I definitely concur with ng10's suggestion that you see a physical therapist, preferably one who works regularly with breast cancer patients.  Try not to compare your recovery to other people's.  Everyone's surgery and radiation is different as are healing times.  Your skin may be more sensitive to radiation and your surgery may have been more extensive.  I was still experiencing skin changes from radiation several years after having finished.  Be sure your doctor knows about your continued pain.

  • truckee
    Jul. 15, 2010

    Hello Phyllis,

     

    As usual, your timing is impeccable!  I have my surgery date scheduled for August 6th for a double skin sparing mastectomy, after 9 months of anti-hormone treatment.  I'm scared.  It wakes me up at night or refuses to let me sleep. It's been a long (and short) 9 months since my diagnosis and the start of my breast cancer...

    RHMLucky777

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    Hello Phyllis,

     

    As usual, your timing is impeccable!  I have my surgery date scheduled for August 6th for a double skin sparing mastectomy, after 9 months of anti-hormone treatment.  I'm scared.  It wakes me up at night or refuses to let me sleep. It's been a long (and short) 9 months since my diagnosis and the start of my breast cancer treatment.  As long as it takes to grow a baby, I've been trying to destroy cancer with anti hormone treatment prior to the mastectomy.  It's odd how the breasts that nurtured my children are now the cause of pain and disease for me.  I've tried to be upbeat and call the mastecomy my "kitchen remodel" and acted as though it would be a walk in the park.

     

    Now I'm scared to death about the surgery, how I will feel about myself afterwards (narcisism?) and how will my husband see me (vain?) and worried about how my grandchildren will react.  My kids are wonderful, but they don't know how I really feel, and all of you ladies do understand me.  My daughters are all supportive about my feelings, my lovely son tells me to suck it up mom, you'll be fine.  All that they say helps.

     

    The double mastecomy and immediate reconstruction came after much internal debate and external discussions with you all, counselors and my husband and second opinions.  I had been scheduled for surgery in April when it was popped on me that I needed radiation.  That was news to me so I asked for some time to research and think about it.  I opted to go to WA for a second opinion (I'm Alaskan) and got the same response, with some minor differences.  Differences that I was happy to hear.  The AK doctors say radiation is required based on the initial MRI, not on how I am on the day of surgery.  Not even if the tumors were completely gone.  Seattle doctors said that they would base my need on the path report and the margins.  I definitely like that answer best.  I'll see the radiologist in AK again and ask why he can't follow that line of thinking.  The tumors have definitely shrunk.

     

    I have survived a 5 way bypass, the number 1 killer and I fully intend to survive this one too.  I just don't want the treatment from this one to cause more heart or artery damage.  I'm told by the radiation doctors that this type of damage just doesn't happen any more.  Well, I don't fit the profile for breast cancer or heart disease either, so there!  Pick me.

     

    Anyway, I just want to say thanks to PJ and Phyllis and Susan for all the great information that you provide.  You all nourish my soul every time I feel defeated.  Thank you is just not enough.

     

    Truckee (Debbie)

    • Phyllis Johnson
      Health Guide
      Jul. 15, 2010

      Debbie, given your experience with open heart surgery, this surgery should be easier physically.  Whatever strategies you used to cope with anesthesia and post-surgical pain will work again.  

       

      Your anxiety about your appearance and the reactions of others sounds pretty normal to me and not at all vain or narcissistic.  These breasts have...

      RHMLucky777

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      Debbie, given your experience with open heart surgery, this surgery should be easier physically.  Whatever strategies you used to cope with anesthesia and post-surgical pain will work again.  

       

      Your anxiety about your appearance and the reactions of others sounds pretty normal to me and not at all vain or narcissistic.  These breasts have given you pleasure, fed your children, and made you feel pretty and feminine.  Of course, you will miss them.  What you are going through now is mourning for a major loss in your life.  Like you, I put off feeling that loss until right before the surgery.  You might want to ask your doctor for something to help you sleep.  Everyone has different emotions around mastectomy.  Some people can hardly wait to get the cancerous traitors off.  Others become depressed.  Whatever your feelings, they are valid, and no one should tell you how you should feel.