Getting Surgery for My Breast Lump
Last updated: August 2022
My appointment with the breast surgeon took forever to come. She was booked solid, and the earliest time to see her was in April. It was now a couple of months since my initial scan. I grew very anxious and was finally glad the day to meet her was here.
The visit lasted 5 minutes. She felt my left breast and confirmed again what I already knew. The lump was there and wasn't going away. Her recommendation was surgery. The lump was large enough to cause concern, and she said it would be best to have it removed while at that size. The likelihood of it growing was greater than for it to shrink. She explained I would be under anesthesia and wouldn't even feel anything. I asked her if she thought my lupus played a part in this, and she told me most likely not and that it was mostly hormonal.
What-if scenarios about surgery
I left the visit even more anxious. I had never had surgery, so many what-if scenarios were going through my head. I decided to also get a second opinion from another hospital. I was anxious to hear what the other hospital would recommend. In the interim, I talked to my family and friends about what was discussed. They tried to calm my nerves and reassure me everything was going to be alright. It would be another week before I got the second opinion results. They also recommended surgery.
With that, I called up my doctor's office and scheduled my surgery. My surgery was going to be scheduled for 3 weeks. I tried to prepare myself for what was to come mentally. As someone living with lupus, I was used to looking up stuff online. I began researching online and watching videos on YouTube. A part of me thinks I scared myself even more. But another part was grateful that I gained more knowledge about what was to come.
Preparing for surgery with lupus
The following 3 weeks flew by, and before I knew it, surgery day was here. Before surgery, I needed to get a couple of things completed. My rheumatologist was required to sign off and asses that I would be ok enough to undergo surgery and have anesthesia. Thankfully I was cleared. A few days before, I also needed a PCR test and was negative for Covid. The day before, I was told I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight since I would be under anesthesia. So I ate a feast.
Arrival time was 3:15. My husband and I arrived at the hospital maybe 30 min before that. Throughout this process, I was scared but now that I was at the hospital. Everything became so surreal. I burst into tears, and my husband began to calm me down. He tried to reassure me again that I had the best surgeon and that everything was going to be ok. I was so glad he was there.
It took me a while to collect my thoughts and calm my nerves. But after that release of emotions, I felt a little better. Now that it was out of my system, I was ready to check in. We reached the OR floor, and I began to get ready. I changed into my gown, and vitals were taken. It was really nerve-wracking waiting till it was my turn.
Soon I was brought to the OR. The room felt cold, and all the nerves came rushing back. I laid down on the table, and they began to give me oxygen and put me in an IV line for the anesthesia. I remember wanting to cry again. But before I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. The surgery was done, and I was awake. I had never felt so relieved. I was hungry and given a popsicle, Graham crackers, and apple juice. I was in the recovery room for about an hour. They checked my vitals and ensured I was ok to be discharged. They gave me my discharge instructions, and I was on my way home.
Once I was home, the pain began to set in. My left breast was throbbing. It was so swollen and sore. I took meds just so I was able to sleep better. The next day I was on bed rest. I felt like I was hit by a bus. I was so tired, in pain, and just wanted to sleep. Thankfully by days 3 and 4, I was feeling better. I began to move around slowly, and the pain started to subside.
One week post-op, I visited my surgeon. She told me that I was healing well and that they did another pathology test on the mass. It was still benign!! But the mass did grow 0.2mm in size since my initial scan. So I was thankful I proceeded with the surgery. My next visit is in 6 months; hopefully, the lump will not grow back. I was very grateful for my husband and care team. They made this all less scary!
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?