• Recovery time

    Asked by DawnAnderson72 on Saturday, December 20, 2014

    Recovery time

    I am trying to figure out if I should count on not being able to student teach next semester. I am looking at either a lumpectomy or mastectomy and radiation. What is the average recovery time for these surgeries? Trying not to bombard with questions, but I can't think of anything else. Will I be in bed or just limited on activities? Not positive yet, but radiologist said likely stage 1 and would def need surgery and radiation. If I make it til Monday to find out, it will be a miracle. I am a wreck.

    24 Answers from the Community

    24 answers
    • ld_105's Avatar

      If you chose a mastectomy it takes about 6 -7 weeks to recover. I was out of work for 7 weeks and had PT for an additional 4 weeks. I know a friend who worked through a double with chemotherapy, but was in the hospital for two weeks with an infection. It depends...what did your surgeon suggest? Mine did not push me to return to work but said stay home and relax.

      over 6 years ago
    • DawnAnderson72's Avatar

      I am seeing my surgeon on Monday. I am just finding out about this and really and trying to decide if I am going to be able to attend. I need to be patient and wait til Monday. The doctor gave me some Xanax to calm me the heck down and some Ambien to help me sleep. I think I need to take them and stop trying to solve my problems in one night. Thank you for your response.

      over 6 years ago
    • simplysandy's Avatar

      I was 67 years old and had a mastectomy at stage 1, 3 lymph nodes removed. I was in hospital overnight and one night at friends house before returning home. I returned home to care for my great granddaughters ages two and five full time day and night. My doctors didn't give me chemo or radiation or I am sure I would not have been up to childcare by myself. I was limited by not using my right arm very much and had a couple of drains to care for. Everyone's recovery is different I have been extremely fortunate. I wish you peace of mind, things never as bad as we imagine!

      over 6 years ago
    • Teachergirl's Avatar

      Easier said than done but try to be calm and think as positive as you can. I had stage II and had to do chemo, then a lumpectomy followed by radiation. I was out 3 weeks for the lumpectomy and worked through the chemo and radiation. I scheduled the radiation at 7:30 in the morning and went to school from there. I am a special ed teacher and also teach grad school.) Everyone is so different in how their body responds so student teaching maybe possible depending on what surgery you have and when the semester starts related to the surgery. Considering your circumstances you could also talk to your advisor and see if it is possible to stretch the semester dates (grades are usually due 2 weeks after the semester ends so I have allowed students to complete assignments up to that date if they have missed weeks for surgery.) Best wishs for a speedy recovery!

      over 6 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar

      My lumpectomy was an outpatient procedure. The surgery itself took only a couple of hours, but most of the day was taken up by prep and recovery. Prep included a lymphosinctigraphy, which took about an hour; that's when tracer is injected into the breast to light up sentinel lymph nodes. I had to have a driver take me home. My surgeon said I would be able to drive three days later; he was right, though bad weather delayed that by a day. In two to three weeks I had my full range of arm motion back. My incisions were closed with surgical skin and I did not need to use any drains.

      I recommend getting a breast pillow that attaches to your seatbelt. I got mine here:
      I also purchased a body pillow, which I placed on my surgical side when I slept. The pillow prevented me from rolling over onto that arm. It also let me keep my arm raised above my heart.

      Regardless of whether you choose lumpectomy or mastectomy, the surgery places one at lifetime risk of lymphedema. The surgical side arm should get no injections, blood tests, IV, or blood pressure cuffs. Peninsula Medical offers an alert bracelet free of charge to patients:
      Mine came about two weeks after I filled out the online form.

      I experienced some discomfort for several days after surgery, but not enough to even warrant ibuprofen. My surgical site got hard due to a seroma (fluid collection); I also got a seroma at my sentinel lymph node biopsy incision. I felt as though I had a golf ball under my skin by my armpit, but it was not painful (if it had been painful I could get it drained at an office visit). Seromas are not unusual and can last for a year or more, or for considerably less time.

      Sports bras that would normally be too large on me gave me support without being too binding. That helped both after surgery and during my weeks of radiation. All told, my recovery from the lumpectomy was fairly swift, about half a week plus time to regain my range of motion. Less than four weeks after surgery I did three hours of yard work.

      Please feel free to bombard us with questions! That's what this site is here for, along with support.

      over 6 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar

      My lumpectomy was an out patient procedure, and I was in my own bed that night with my mother taking care of me. The next morning, I was operating a computer from bed and getting up off and on through the day. At night, I slept with a C shaped pillow under my affected armpit to keep the surgical site safe as I lay in bed. I was up and around more and more every day, and after 3 weeks, I didn't need dressings, for the stitches were dissolving. They did tell me to stay out of the water for another week or two, especially hot tubs, but soon I was back to my old routine, patched up breast and all. As for the medical alert bracelets, you will need something, if not a bracelet, a charm or dog tag. I have one that I wear that is red on one side with the medical caduseus and "right arm no needles, no BP" on the other. HUGS and God bless!

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar

      If you haven't done it yet, take the Xanax. Anything to take help with the tension. The waiting is always horrible. Once you find out results and have a plan in place, it will be easier to accept. I was not laid up with lumpectomy, did light yard work the next day. Don't remember any pain with Mx. There aren't many nerves in the breast. More phantom itches, get those with my reconstruction, too. I'm sure you are worried about your kids, too. They will go with the flow and do well. God bless.

      over 6 years ago
    • catwrites1's Avatar

      My lumpectomy (no nodes) was outpatient, and I felt like doing whatever I wanted afterwards. I went to work the next day (I have a desk job). Same with radiation; had treatment at 8 am every morning and then went to work. For me, the emotional roller coaster was much harder than the physical treatment. Make your decisions on how you think/feel about it, not others, and then don't look back. It can be hard many days, but a journey that may lead to some positive changes in your life. Be kind to yourself by letting the ups and downs happen. It's okay to cry; seek lots of hugs. Good luck.

      over 6 years ago
    • charnell's Avatar

      I had a bilateral mastectomy. Oops, it was worse then we thought so back in for axillary lymph node. I was doing great after the first surgery. Was ready to go back to work. After my 2nd surgery I got a bad infection and spiked 104 for a week. That really set me back. Each case is different. I wish you the best of luck. Hug .

      over 6 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar

      I am a teacher, and I just want to say that my high school students were great throughout my treatment. I was out three weeks after my double mastectomy. The surgeon told me to plan for six weeks, and I told her she was nuts. I was NOT going to be gone that long. The problem is being able to drive. Until you have more range of motion, it's not safe to drive. And, obviously, you can't go to school with drains in (the bulb-like things that help take the extra fluid and blood out of the incisions).

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar

      I definitely had to take Xanax after my diagnosis too. I was a wreck! I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. The worst part of the surgery was the drains but the they were out after 2 weeks. I was 100% better after that. I was never in bed all day, just restricted with arm movements. I was very diligent about my arm exercises so had full range of motion by 4 weeks. If you choose lumpectomy, you will probably have to have radiation, which would be everyday (I was told, for me, it would be everyday for 5 weeks). I had stage 1, estrogen & progesterone positive. I did not have to have radiation bc they found no cancer cells in my sentinel node. Now that I look back on it (my surgery was in August 2014) I agree with catwrites1 that the emotional roller coaster was worse than the surgery. I am so sorry you have to go on this journey but you are stronger than you think and will get through this. Do your research, ask lots of questions and get second opinions. All of that will help you make decisions that you will be at peace with. And ask us any questions you are concerned about. We are all here for you. Take your Xanax (it helps)and keep us informed. Hugs to you!

      over 6 years ago
    • lujos' Avatar

      The ladies here have dealt well with the surgical side.

      WRT taking your student teaching when having chemo, my comment would be to remind you that during chemo you have a period when your immunity is compromised. Remembering when I was teaching five year olds, I caught everything under the sun the first couple of years, so maybe being around the extra people and extra virus exposure wouldn't be wise.

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar

      I think if it's Stage 1, then the nodes have not been involved. The next lowest is Stage 0 - count yourself lucky, girl!

      Everyone reacts differently to treatment. No one here can tell you what will happen to you.

      When I went through it, I read that some women exercised daily. Inspired by their stories, I got my potato off the couch and plopped it on my bike and after 4 revolutions about fell off - it exhausted me that much.

      However, I did work all the way through treatment except for one week. Clients were scheduled for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The infusions were on Fridays; after the infusion, on Saturday I felt fine, on Sunday felt wonky, on Monday flat on my back, but on Tuesday voila - up and at 'em (so to speak).

      You are just going to have to 'wait and see'. Maybe you'll be able to work, maybe not.

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar

      PS - if it's Stage 1, then mastectomy probably is not going to happen. They'll 'preserve' the breast.

      over 6 years ago
    • msesq's Avatar

      I had 2 lumpectomies and it took 3 days to recover for each one. I only had 1 lymph node removed and it was negative. The worst day was the day of surgery when my breast felt like it was on fire. It was the only day I needed pain meds but frankly ice worked best. I had to make funeral arrangements for my father on the second day, got my sister to drive and was tired but otherwise OK to make decisions etc.

      As for chemo. I worked through all 6 treatments but took the week of chemo off because the day after chemo I was exhausted and after the Neulasta shot in too much pain. However, the Neulasta shot made my white blood cell count go up so I could work. I had no problems working 2 weeks out of 3 on a 3 week chemo schedule. Never got sick but I wasn't exposed to young children. Take this one step at a time, you might not need chemo and radiation can be scheduled around your work hours, I am almost done with hypofractionated radiation therapy which is 2x the dose in 16 treatments. I have 3 more treatments to go and I am just now getting the red sunburn on the irradiated area. I worked throughout radiation.

      over 6 years ago
    • ladyfsgf's Avatar

      I had to wait from 04.08.2014 (lumpectomy) to 05.05.2014 for chemo>=4 months & 3 weeks of chemo-finished chemo 09.24.2014 (started out w/2 drugs every 2 weeks x4 treatments=some nausea-slight mouth sores=antibiotics, then another chemo drug was to get 12 weekly doses-stopped after 5 due to NUMBNESS that has not improved-felt the best on this, after 3 weeks had 2 more doses of another drug every 3 weeks-very bad mouth sores starting about 5 days after treatment and lasting about 10 days=antibiotics), started radiation 10.14.201-11.24.2014=30 treatments.

      over 6 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Hugs, healing vibes and prayers. Each person is different. you will probably need to take a week off from work, that's about how long it took me to get the all clear from my surgeon and about how long it took me to feel up to doing anything. I was unable to function after about a week of radiation, but that's me. I know other people who have been able to arrange their radiation schedule and still work. depending on the chemo you get, and how you react to it you may also be able to continue teaching. A lot depends on how you feel and what your teams feel is the best for you. Listen to your body.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkPeony's Avatar

      Hi Dawn,
      I have been thinking about your post all day. I had two lumpectomies, the second was because the margins were not clean after the first surgery. There was little to no pain, and I never needed pain pills. The recovery was just a couple of days, although it takes a long time for the surgical site to fully heal. My breast looks pretty much like it did before surgery plus a couple of small scars. I just started radiation a couple of weeks ago, and so far I am doing OK, but ask again in a couple of weeks. (I must have 38 treatments.) It sounds like you don't need chemo, which is good. I did have chemo, and could not have worked during chemo treatment. I am retired, but was a teacher for many years. It is demanding, exciting work. I think you need to look at your emotional needs during this time too. You might decide you need time to deal with your cancer, and continue your student teaching when you are done with treatment and rested. On the other hand, work might be just the thing to keep your mind busy and body active. It is a very individual thing, but if I had to start student teaching and deal with cancer at the same time it would be overwhelming. Only you know what you need. Sounds like they caught your cancer early.That is a very good thing. Sending best wishes to you.

      over 6 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had a bilateral mastectomy and the BS told me 2 to 3 weeks off work...by 2 1/2 weeks, I was feeling pretty good....I had only a couple more days till spring break and I was starting chemo, so I took the rest of the week off....so I was off work a month....had I NOT had chemo, I would have gone back after 2 1/2 weeks. I had chemo, then radiation. Radiation was tiring, but I worked through it. I had radiation at the end of the day. The fatigue was cumulative and lasted about 2 weeks after radiation ended, then I started to get my stamina back....It is all doable, but with a new position, it might be challenging to do surgery, radiation and tackle student teaching. All the best to you

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar

      Been thinking a lot about you and student teaching. You will have so much prep work, which I'm sure you know. When I was teaching I worked before school, all day till 7 pm at school, then home to check papers. Plus lesson plans and getting room ready on weekends. I couldn't have done this with small children at home, but there are many teachers who do. Maybe if you are teaching high school, it will be more doable. So many others were able to teach during treatments. Chemo wiped out my white cells, so I waited until it was over to finish my last year of teaching. Then did half days while I had radiation. Just trying to put the practical side to this situation. Wishing you the best while you are making so many decisions. Hugs!

      over 6 years ago
    • robsterstu's Avatar

      As an elementary teacher who regularly takes student teachers, I wish you the best of luck in your decision and journey. I considered continuing next semester with a student teacher (they work very hard!), but my family and co-workers/staff talked me out of it. Why? The workload was a consideration, but the possibility of illness from students and just concentrating on getting well were the overriding factors in their argument and my decision. I'll be thinking about and praying for you.

      over 6 years ago
    • mofields' Avatar

      Since you are just going to be a student teacher, I would speak with your advisor and perhaps postpone it this semester. I student taught 10 weeks at a middle school and 6 weeks at a high school. Since you don't say how long your student teaching assignment would be - consider this - I teach high school and for my mastectomy surgery I took 5 weeks off, then I went back to school and did my radiation after school. But I'm a full time teacher with insurance - how will this work for you? Good luck with your decision.

      over 6 years ago
    • DawnAnderson72's Avatar

      I would be student teaching 3 days a week for the entire day for 16 weeks. I would also be doing a lot of online studies, as it is an online credential program. I go today and will see how this is looking. Thank you ladies.

      over 6 years ago
    • LindaAnnie's Avatar

      By now after your meeting, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And there's a lot of good advice above. Not to scare you or add to your worries, but there's one other factor to consider-- what the surgeon finds. From the ultrasounds before surgery, they thought my tumor was pea size and stage 1. But they found it was 2.4 cm, ductal, with 2 lymph nodes positive. Three weeks later I was back in surgery to drain fluid and increase margins. And then another three weeks later that was repeated. So although recovery from each surgery was only 2 weeks, the whole process took 9 weeks. This was followed by chemo, radiation, and physical therapy for arm range of motion. Good luck to you on your cancer journey. And good luck with student teaching (I had a great experience and the only hard part was getting there- it was 50 miles away!)

      over 6 years ago

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