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Breast cancer and reconstruction concerns

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  • Breast cancer and reconstruction concerns

    I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer found during my first routine mammogram. I am an active 40 year old quadriplegic (use a manual wheelchair and fairly independent). I am likely going to have a mastectomy and sentinel node removal with breast reconstruction. I am really concerned about my recovery and how I will transfer and use the bathroom (overactive bladder). Has anyone been through this before? Thanks.

  • #2
    How do you transfer now? How do you manage your bowel and bladder now? Can you get a temporary power wheelchair? It is likely they will not want you doing strenuous exercise with your chest and shoulder muscles during the immediate time after surgery (up to 6 weeks depending on what they do). I know of another woman on our forums who went through this, and will ask her to weigh in if possible.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


    • #3
      This is my first time To reply to a thread. Bare with me – I am a 25 year survivor, so the technology was much different in 1990. They were going to reconstruct my breast by pulling tissue around from my back. I was worried about transfers and being able to sleep on my back, etc. also. I am not as mobile as you and was already using a power chair. I chose against reconstruction and have not regretted that decision. I think if I were you now, I would go over all the options with the surgeon and explain the reason for your concerns. He/she might be able to help you choose what would be best. I would definitely see about borrowing a power chair during your recovery.


      • #4
        I transfer with my arms now and a little bit of leg strength. I have bladder and bowel function, although my bladder is very overactive so I typically end up having to use the bathroom every 1-2 hours (including transfers and pulling pants on and off) which is of concern to me during my recovery. I meet with the plastic surgeon in a couple days so hopefully I will have a better understanding of my options and what to expect.


        • #5
          Thank you for sharing, ctimmins. Yes, I have heard that reconstruction adds a lot of difficulty to recovery. I was able to connect with someone with an SCI who went through this 10 years ago, she had her implant put above the muscle which helped with recovery although not as cosmetically pleasing. I will definitely discuss options with the surgeon this week. Honestly, I'm still in shock over my diagnosis! I am happy to hear that you are okay 25 years later . I have thought about renting a power chair but didn't know if it would be too hard to transfer from because they are usually higher than the toilet. Did you have any lymphedema after?