Welcome to guest blogger Wendy Pucci, who has graciously decided to share her breast cancer “journey” with anyone who might benefit. Wendy and I discovered a distressing lack of information around breast cancer treatments and exercise so we’ve decided to record her pre and post surgical experiences to give a candid view into preparing for…. and recovering from her second Mastectomy (and third diagnosis!)
This article is part 3 of the series. Make sure to read Part 2: Taking Control… Before the Surgery to learn Wendy’s story.
Stay tuned to the Mind 2 Body Fitness website, Youtube channel, and social media for more blogs, videos, and helpful first-hand information about Breast Cancer and Exercise!
Five days after the mastectomy and I feel pretty good. I just came in from a snowy walk with my husband. That’s one thing about all this … we walk together now since it’s not a good idea for me to walk alone. Walking with Lenny is usually more of a stroll than exercise. Right now it’s a matter of me keeping up with him … but I’ll get back to my usual speed.
A week prior to the surgery I’m going through the checklist. Enough food in the freezer? Enough front closure bras? But then again, maybe not. They need to be tight enough but not too tight and loose enough but not too loose. In the end the Plastic Surgeon gave a few to me. Free bras! Enough button down shirts? Nope! I didn’t want to spend too much money on shirts I may never wear again because they remind me of this time in my life. It’s like the time I bought a nice black dress for my mother’s funeral. I thought I’d wear it again but never did. She died from Breast Cancer. (I don’t know why I put it in caps — like it deserves it or something?)
One thing I asked my PS (Plastic Surgeon) for was a ‘script for an anti-anxiety med for the night before. It took a while for him to get back to me. He wanted to make sure it was ok. He’s very thorough my PS. I had a script for two .5mg tablets. That’s so generous! In the end I took only one of them. I’m saving the other for another day? Another night? A plane ride? It’s a year into Covid — Where am I going?
My PS also called me the night before my surgery in case I had questions. I was impressed. I liked him when I met him and he kept me in that feeling. I didn’t necessarily like that he was using an expander that would be in place for 3 months. I didn’t like that he would be going through the same incision to put in the implant. I didn’t have a choice really. Would it be better to have a different incision? I didn’t have many options left! I didn’t like that I was not in control. It had little to do with what was happening. It wasn’t like the last time.
20 years ago I had a skin saving mastectomy with immediate augmentation using part of my Latissimus Dorsi muscle (a large muscle across your back.) I went to sleep with two breasts and woke up with two breasts, albeit a little altered. The psychological aspect was minimal — for both me and my husband. Of course I was worried about that — what he would think? Would he still find me attractive? I’m happy to say, of course he did. But that’s important. For those that say to me that it shouldn’t be… shame on you. These are people who haven’t walked in my shoes. (Please refer to what you should and should not say to someone with breast cancer. I’ll get to that list another time!)
This time I would wake up with one and a half breasts. Neither real. Neither with feeling. And one making me look a bit like “the Bride of Frankenstein.” My PS recommended doing the surgery in stages for the best results. I guess I couldn’t escape the psychological aspect this time. Regardless of how old I am, what shape I’m in, pre or post menopausal; I liked having feeling in my breasts. Breast. But I also liked breathing! My mother died because she chose to have a lumpectomy with advanced stage breast cancer. Her mother had a radical mastectomy in the early 70’s and she could never get the image out of her head of the hack job the doctors did on my grandmother. My mother chose vanity rather than life. On her death bed my mother told me two things:
The first was that I needed to have my roots done. Yes, true story. The other was that she regretted not having a mastectomy. So the moral of the story is to get your hair done AND have a mastectomy? I don’t know. I didn’t listen to her about the hair!
4 days before my surgery, our beloved dog Cosmo crossed the rainbow bridge. He had cancer and it was becoming evident that he was very uncomfortable. We made the humane choice to bring a vet into our home and euthanize our Cosmo. He was, by far, the best dog in the world… and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I knew I had a responsibility to wake up after my surgery. Sounds simple enough. I won’t lie and say it didn’t cross my mind that I might not make it. Not about having cancer… just about not waking up. But I was determined for my husband. He couldn’t handle much more. Plus I wasn’t ready to give up the stuff I promised to my friends and family in case I, you know…
Wendy’s Surgery Day Video
But wake up I did! And I was starving! As a matter of fact, the PS told my husband I woke up saying “I’m hungry.” The nurses at Women and Infant’s rustled up some food for me since it was way past dinner. It wasn’t tasty but I didn’t care! Then I got nauseous. Note to self, don’t eat too fast after surgery.
The next morning my PS came in to check on me. He removed the clear tape that was on my sutures. It’s almost impossible to remove that tape. I think someone should work on that…3M? He said it looked great and I looked great in general. I just got out of surgery and he’s trying to sweet talk me? Really? No! He was surprised that I was doing as well as I was and I can tell you why. I worked out. A lot. By myself and with Maria. She’s mean. She’s tough with a marshmallow center. She helped me get stronger.
Wendy’s Workouts: Six Days After Surgery
A great place to start is the American Cancer Society’s website. Find these exercises and more by clicking HERE.
Moral of the story. I have no control over Breast Cancer. But I do have control over the rest of my body when it comes to getting and staying strong before and after. For now I have to listen to my surgeon. He just told me I can start to do some movement exercises. I’m so excited!