A diagnosis of breast cancer really can compromise your life--emotions, physical health, finances, and relationships can be affected. When you were diagnosed can have worked full time, raising a family, or pursue your dreams. The calendar was full, and the life was busy. Suddenly, your program is invaded by a series of appointments with surgeons, oncologists, nurses, technicians and therapists. Have you suffered a new job--get through cancer treatment. Let's look at how long treatments and recovery can take and talk to keep track of your time.
Balance between the demands of life and treatment
If you work outside the home, you might need to know how long leave to ask. Make sure you know leave policy to your work and give your supervisor that the best estimate possible. Remember that if you hit a snag during treatment, you will be out as you had planned, so be sure to let your boss know what's going on.
Keep a calendar in your notebook to keep track of all your appointments. Do yourself unemployed--especially in days of treatment and recovery. Ask for help and delegate tasks while you are recovering.
Lumpectomy: 7-14 day recovery
A Lumpectomy is an outpatient procedure, so you'll be going home the same day of the intervention. Surgical drains may be in place, so don't rush back to work. If you have lymph nodes removed during the Lumpectomy, healing takes longer than a week. Someone else do the driving and heavy lifting and postpone the purges, sport and gardening.
Mastectomy: 1-3 weeks for recovery
A mastectomy is an inpatient in the hospital, so you'll be one or two days after surgery. Surgical drains will be in place for 5-7 days to help with healing--those are removed during a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. Barring complications, hacks should heal within three or four weeks.
If you have lymph nodes removed during mastectomy, healing takes longer than a week. Mastectomy happens often with immediate breast reconstruction, but should not delay the healing from surgery. Get plenty of rest and take time to process your emotions while you recover.
Re-Excision: 3-7 days recovery
Not all will require re-surgical excision if margins were clear. This is an outpatient procedure that is performed after a Lumpectomy to ensure clear margins. You will go home after surgery. You can have a drain to manage, but it can be removed in a relatively short time. Take it easy at home until the brains are no longer needed.
Breast reconstruction: recovery times vary
Why breast reconstruction can vary from plants inserted during a mastectomy for a free flap, transplant recovery time will depend on the complexity of your method of reconstruction. Some types of reconstruction involves two or three separate surgical procedures for completing your chest again. In case you need radiation treatments, rehabilitation may be delayed until you have completed all sessions.
Radiation: 1-6 weeks of treatment
A standard course of radiation treatment after breast surgery is set for each day of the week for six or seven weeks. Side effects that you may have will be cumulative, then going to take some time off over the weekend and at the end of treatment.
Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) can be completed within three weeks. Brachytherapy, internal radiation, or breast, can be done in five days with minor side effects, and a short recovery time.
Chemotherapy: 3-6 months of treatments
12 Weeks (3 months) straight line will receive a weekly program of lower dose chemotherapy. A schedule of chemo standard will be given once every three weeks, with additional office visits for laboratory work and shots. So if you have four rounds of chemo, standard treatments will take approximately three months to complete. For six rounds of chemo, standard treatments will take approximately five or six months to complete.
Each infusion will take 3-4 hours, and lab appointments should take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how busy can be your clinic. If side effects are mild, you can return to normal activity between each treatment, but if are annoying, plan on taking time off to recover.
Chemotherapy recovery times vary with each person. Remember that chemo has a systemic treatment that affects your entire body. Once the treatments, you should plan on 1-3 months of recovery time for each standard dose chemotherapy.
Recovery times depending on your health before diagnosis, the response of your body, treatments, lifestyle factors and levels of physical activity during recovery. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and tobacco and gradual return to normal activity can hasten recovery.
Emotional recovery is a process more complicated that everybody works through our program. If you hear an annoying constant depression or afraid, ask for help on recurrence.
Physical side effects will decrease over time as the rebounds of health, but some may linger. Your body will be affixed battle scars, Lymphedema and chemobrain can affect you more time than it would take, and relationships can be changed. Life after breast cancer involves the change, then give yourself plenty of space and time to adjust. Survivorhood is a great place to live!