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radiation, scar tissue a little off topic


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I debated posting this because it's kind of off topic but then again it could be of interest to some. so I thought.. what the heck! :D

I was diagosed 01, surgeries, chemo, radiation,left pneumonectomy continued through 02. All this brings me to where I am today. My surgeries and treatment left me with lots of pain, lots of scar tissue and also in need of some reconstruction on my chest. I went to my pcp and asked what the possibility would be of my insurance approving a request for reconstruction particularly on my left breast. Please understand this was NOT an easy decision. I'm glad I'm alive and at this point in my life looking good is pretty much a moot point but still I was left pretty lopsided and given that several aspects of my treatment were unnecessary I wanted to "get fixed". After many letters etc. I was approved and had my surgery 5/24/05. The reason I'm telling all of this is for this reason... Due to 3 chest surgeries to try to remove the tumor, the pneumonectomy my left side was pretty beat up. The tumor was on the left and in order to get in there they cut through the left breast several times and i was left with pain in my shoulder, some displaced ribs, and pain in my left arm as well as weird pulling sensations. When this would happen I would always panic about reoccurance etc. Well the plastic surgeon went in to try to even out the breasts and look around, when I came out of recovery this is what he told me. He scraped out bunches of scar tissue that had formed on the left side.. in fact I lost more breast tissue on the left side in order for him to remove the scar tissue. Everything had banded together and was pulling everything out of place. my incision is just under the breast and I have some brusies that go around to my back along the scar line where he used something to scoop all that out. He also told me that due to the radiation the chest muscles on the left side were "cemented" to the chest wall. He said that it was all he could do to pull it up and off. He said everything in that entire area is like concrete. He couldn't believe that I wasn't in constant pain from that...

I guess the reason I'm writing this is just for those of you who may have had surgery, radiation or may have lingering pain. I was scared of every ache and the docs didn't really know what to do or what was happening. Now I know what's going on in there and why things still hurt and will always hurt. Having someone tell me that my body is a scar tissued mess just helped me breathe a little easier! :shock: Not that people should ignore anything but it just did my heart good to know what things really looked like in there.

On the lighter side... my 1 hour operation turned into a 5 hour operation and he said he wouldn't have even attempted it if he would have known. I now have a new breast thanks to the wonders of implants but I don't think I'll be gracing the pages of playboy anytime soon. but the best news is I'm already (2 weeks or so out) in much less pain, with much better range of motion in that side! Hooray!

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Tami, you have been through so much! I am really glad that you wrote about this. I had no idea that things could get that messed up. The docs did tell me though, that they would not be able to ever remove my lung after radiation treatment because of scar tissue. I guess they weren't kidding, huh? Your surgeon painted a good picture for you. Thanks for relaying it. If you didn't tell us, how would we know? Good luck with your recovery.

Cindi o'h

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Cindi nabbed my word: Wow!! :?

I'm so glad you posted too, as I think this sort of info could be really helpful to who knows how many people?

We do tend to be a bit more tuned into our aches and pains after having cancer and especially with surgery...and I know there is a tendancy for some of us NOT to overreact or say anything to the docs. But I'm slowly getting so that I mention more of the little, even sort of fleeting side effects...just so they are "on record". Later on...they could mean something...and I might not remember when they started!

I still try not to overreact to symptoms...but there is a very important lesson in the amount of pain you were in...and WHY!! The reconstruction part was secondary, I'm sure...as when one is in pain that takes precedence over other issues...doesn't it?

I learned my own lesson starting in Jan. with a unsettled tummy...that - 5 wks later and only 6-7 weeks after a CLEAN CT scan - turned out to be a recurrence with cancer in my liver and pancreas. :shock:

I'm glad you had this taken care of and gladder still, that your pain is diminishing. Thanks for sharing an important lesson in listening to your body and NOT putting off talking to someone about what we are noticing.

Hope you just keep feeling better and better!! :)

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