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What tips can people give on sleeping after having mastectomy and reconstruction

Do other mastectomy and reconstruction patients have advice on how to sleep after surgery, I don’t like sleeping on my back.

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  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,250 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer


    Hi, welcome to the community.

    I hope you are recovering well after your surgery.

    After my surgery it took me a very long time to even try and sleep on my back or side.

    I fashioned a support system, using several pillows to enable me to sleep in an semi-upright position. It wasn't ideal always especially with dealing with pressure points from sitting. But at the time that was preferable to the pain and discomfort of attempting to lie down.

    How long ago was your surgery?

    I was also given this little pillow by the breast care team at hospital, which I put under my arm area to ease the pressure from my arm touching the surgery area, if that makes sense.

    Over time, eventually I was able to lie down to sleep, but it was still several months before I could lean/lie on either side.

    Maybe someone else will have other suggestions too.

    All the very best in your recovery and in any other treatment you may be having.

    Everyone is very friendly and supportive here, I hope you will find it a good place.

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,250 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer



    Ah, ok. I hope it all goes well for you next week. Recovery is different for everyone, yours might be better than mine, I was just out of chemo when I had surgery and so was very poorly afterwards.

    The thing to remember is it will get better...it is a time thing, just take it day by day. Do the physio exercises as soon as you possibly can, this will help too.

    The breast care nurses will tell you everything you need to do, what to check etc.

    Assuming you have someone at home with you, or a friend who can help you. That would be necessary.

    Let us know how you are doing when you feel up to it.

    Take care

    Lou x


  • jinxlivingjinxliving Posts: 3

    Hi Lou

    Thank you for your response and welcome to the community. My surgery is on Tuesday 17th September so I'm trying to plan ahead for my return home. It sounds like a long process before one can sleep easily, not a good sleeper as it is. Might get some sleeping tablets! Will certainly check on the pillow situation.

    Many thanks.

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 1,100 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jinxliving @Sunshinedaff


    I would like to add my welcome to our friendly Community and wish you all the best for your surgery next Tuesday.

    I see that you have already chatted with Lou who was able to describe her own experiences and pass on her great ideas.

    My cancer is different, of course, but I have received a great deal of valuable support and encouragement from our members, and I hope that you will keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

    Rob x

  • jinxlivingjinxliving Posts: 3

    Hi Lou and Rob

    it is now five weeks after my surgery and I am finding it more comfortable to sleep in different positions. My problem now is just being able to have a good sleep! I guess anxiety kicks in at odd times of the night. After the mastectomy I was told I was free of cancer and my sentinel lymph node was clear. Hurray you would say but along came the pathology results which found a 3mm invasive cancer within the tissue removed. Because it was invasive my oncologist said I could have the whole gamut of chemo, Herceptin and Tamoxiohen as a precautionary measure In case some stray cells got into the blood stream ... but it would be my choice!

    Now would you be able to sleep with that decision to make? I am busy doing my research and made an appointment for a 2nd opinion. I understand in America they don’t give cancer drugs for tumours under 5mm and they tend to have a better track record than the UK in breast cancer survival rates.

    Every situation is unique .... yes I know! If you had to make a decision like this what would you do?

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 592 mod

    @jinxliving @RobertA


    It is lovely to hear from you, I am glad you are recovering well from the surgery and you are more comfortable at night. I am really sorry to hear anxiety is keeping you from having a good night's sleep though. It is not unusual to experience anxiety at any point since being diagnosed with cancer. Post-treatment is often about whether it will return in the future, or never really being sure it has gone.

    For you to need to consider further treatment following the pathology results is an anxious time. I can empathise with you being kept up at night having these thoughts going round in your mind.

    I suppose whether we choose to have treatment at any time is a choice we all have to make, however did the oncologist not present you with their considered medical opinion, as in would having it be the preferred option? Chemo is very gruelling, it isn't easy, but if it means the cancer is definitely eradicated, it would be worth enduring the side effects and difficult months that may lie ahead? Herceptin and Tamoxifen have their own set of side-effects too. There are many here who have had all of these treatments. I was on Tamoxifen, but changed to Letrozole for a while and I am now on Exemestane. I will keep taking it until they tell me otherwise.

    It is a very personal decision, when I was diagnosed and presented with a timeline of future treatment plans, I had to decide whether to agree to it or not. The Dr's and MDT had already mapped everything out. For me it was simple, I would do anything to ensure as much chance as possible to get rid of the cancer. Anything that gave me as much time as possible with my family was worth doing.

    I hope the second opinion will give you more clarification and understanding enabling you to make the most appropriate decision that will be the best for you and your family.

    Please let me know how you get on, if I can help you with anything else, or if you would just like to chat further, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

    Chat soon,

    Lou xx

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