I'm at home resting, recovering, (and grading) after my lumpectomy surgery last Friday. The surgeon says everything went well, though in addition to the tumor she had to remove the majority of the axillary lymph nodes in my left armpit because there were cancer cells present in the first few nodes. I was truly hoping this wouldn't be the case. When I woke up in the recovery room, the first thing I did was check for a surgical drain and found a tube sticking out from under my arm. The hope was that chemo would kill off any cancer cells in my lymph nodes and that they would remove three nodes to find only one had cancer and wouldn't need to take more. We knew at least one was cancerous from the very first ultrasound and biopsies back in October. Unfortunately, they removed three nodes and found no cancer cells, which meant the cancerous one was still in there and the cancer had traveled a bit farther. My surgeon removed 17 lymph nodes (the axilla contains approximately 24) and 2 were positive. There is no reason to believe the cancer traveled beyond this area, and taking out so many nodes will hopefully prevent anything microscopic from spreading. Because the surgery was more extensive, I stayed overnight in the hospital and came home with a surgical drain under my arm.
I'm doing well overall - not in pain, just sort of awkward and uncomfortable because of the drain tube and tightness in my shoulder and armpit (nerves are usually damaged in axillary lymph node dissection and can take a long time to heal). My follow up with the surgeon is on Wednesday the 22nd, and she'll be able to go over the details with me in terms of how many lymph nodes were removed, how many were cancerous, and whether we got clean margins with the tumor. Hopefully she'll remove the drain at the same time.
Meanwhile, my sister is here taking care of me (and the dog!) and keeping me company while I heal. A rare bright spot in an otherwise difficult situation.
Breast cancer survivor.