Below is my experience...
Finished chemo on 20 July (I'm HER2+ so got chemo first).
Signed my consent form for Wide Local Excision (WLE) and sentinel node biopsy (SNB) on 7 August. Surgery was booked for 6 September - although I didn't get the letter about it until 3 days before! I was also told that surgery should be 31 days after consent form signed, when I rang to chase appointment.
On the afternoon before surgery, I went in to have my nodes located. This was a radioactive injection into my boob, near the nipple - I was worried about this but it barely hurt and way less painful than a local anaesthetic! Then a series of pictures and scans (you just lay there and try to keep still). The technician then drew three X's where my nodes were (this might be 1, 2 or 3 nodes, you won't know until the start hunting for then). This is usually done on the same day as the op but sometimes the afternoon before.
On the morning of surgery, I went to the breast unit to have my wire localisation. I needed 2 wires inserted into the tumour (back and front) as it was quite big and quite deep. Boob was clamped down (like on a mammogram) with loads of pictures taken and then when the technicians were sure where to go, I had an anaesthetic injection and then the first wire was pushed into place. This was then repeated for the second. The wires look like guitar strings and are ridiculously long - I have no idea why so much is needed on the outside but they were taped down. I was then sent to wait outside, whilst the doctors looked at all the images and wrote their report for the surgeon. I got called back in as they decided they wanted a third wire.
Once that was all done, I went back up to the surgery area and got changed into my gown and attractive stockings! Walked down to the theatre and had my general anaesthetic. I came round in recovery a couple of hours later.
My surgeon always keeps WLE patients in over night, so I knew to expect that. I felt a bit sick when I stood up to go for a wee once I was on the ward. I remembered about the blue wee!! And the blue boob!!
I went home at 10:00 the following morning (last Friday) and have not needed any pain killers at all, I went to my local parkrun on Saturday (with strict instructions not to run, so did a brisk walk). My boob is smurf blue above and around the nipple and it deffo looks smaller and perkier that my other one.
I should get the results of the surgery in two weeks (are there clear margins around the removed tumour and are there any cancer cells in the nodes) which will determine if I need more surgery or pass directly to "go" and radiotherapy.
Sorry - that's a heap of info but I hope it helps someone?
Hi I have a date for my surgery, 10 October a month after my last chemo . So I will be visiting this site for what comes next. Looking forward to reading all that is posted. Thanks
Hi Looby lou
It's Emily here from Breast Cancer Care.
Thank you for sharing, and it's understandably an anxious time as you're having surgery but still don't have a diagnosis.
While you're waiting for responses on here, I thought I'd let you know that we have a few email volunteers who have had a wide local excision (they've all had a breast cancer diagnosis) and would be happy to share tips and their experiences about the operation itself:
Donna (47): firstname.lastname@example.org
Anita (52): email@example.com
Zahida (36): firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this helps.
Emily at Breast Cancer Care
Have you a phone number you can contact for more information? You presumably had a letter of appointment for your recent visit to your consultant; if it gives the consultant's secretary's number that might help. His sec could almost certainly tell you whom you need to contact, if she can't give information. It sounds as though you need to contact someone in the hospital for a clearer indication of what to expect.
Different consultants in different hositals will do things differently, so you really need information from you own breast care team. Different ladies here have had different experiences.
As far as I know, lumpectomies are usually carried out under general anaesthetic, although often as a day patient if you have someone at home to look after you overnight. If you live on your own and there is no-one to stay with you, if you have a general anaesthetic, they are obliged to keep you in hospital for a night.
Once you get your surgeon's letter, that should certainly give you his/her secretary's number, so I would phone up and ask to speak to someone who can give details. They could also advise on booklets you can read.
Waiting is one of the worst parts of this. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some nice teats to keep your spirits up.