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After the Knife

Surgery is mostly about what comes after. However, there are a few tips to share about preparing for surgery: 1) If the surgeon will

be taking lymph nodes, request a single incision for both breast surgery and accessing the lymph nodes; 2) request a nerve blocking procedure prior to surgery as it permits lower levels of anesthetic and lower dose pain (morphine) pills; 3) If you're not planning on reconstruction, direct your surgeon not to leave a flap of skin/tissue that is generally left for reconstruction purposes; 4) Obtain foam wedges for your bed. Having an elevated position will help you sleep better; and 5) Plan on not driving for a week or so after surgery.

Note: My Surgery

I chose to have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy. Both were offered. My tumour had responded to the chemotherapy and had shrunk by half. But, I felt that I was ‘done’ with that breast – even if not a medical fact. Given the biopsy-proven involvement of one lymph node and a suspicious second node on ultrasound, I was not offered a sentinel node biopsy. Instead my surgeon followed the current standard of care in my situation and proceeded with an axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). She took nine nodes.

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