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Cancer: Breast Message Board

After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

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Old 02-20-2005, 04:54 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 118
seekalot HB User
After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

Hi, I feel self-conscious to ask these questions but really need and appreciate any advice on these two things.

1) TYPES OF BREAST PROSTHESIS -- I had a left mastectomy over 3 1/2 months ago and now have a prosthesis and bras (which I am glad to say, look very good and normal), but now the prosthesis is starting to feel a little heavy, the weight of the bra band seems to make my rib area sore and also the way the prosthesis pushes into me (I guess) has made the remaining tissue (the surgeon left the underlying structure and tissue) sort of lumpy and cave in or flatten in and out instead of being smooth and rounded like it was. (Or could this be a natural part of the healing process? sure looks ickier.)

I went back to the mastectomy boutique where I got the items. After they first just tried to adjust the bra straps (which I should have tightened myself because the bra had stretched out in the 6 weeks I've had it, and the tightening maybe helps a little, but not a lot), they said they would order a 1500 prosthesis which she said doesn't lay up against you or something. Does anybody know about the different types of prostheses? What is a 1500 type prosthesis? (I asked and couldn't seem to get much specific information.) How is it decided which prosthesis you should use? At the shop I was originally just told "this is your prosthesis", with no choice or options given, not that I would have known what to choose.

2) STARTING SWIMMING AFTER MASTECTOMY -- I am trying to regain my energy and optimism and do things like swimming, which I used to do, and having trouble getting started. I've become about 40 lbs. overweight in the last 5+ years and so was already having a heck of a time finding halfway flattering swimsuits anyway. And now this!! (the surgery) which I guess limits me to mastectomy suits?

The boutique had some suits, I tried a few on and just wanted to DIE. I don't understand this clinging spandex the swimsuit designers seem to love, which wouldn't flatter 90 percent of us, I don't think! Anyhow I looked and felt like a little barrel with these delightful rolls clearly outlined for all to see and enjoy! And then the "missing" upstairs story Feeling pretty freakish...

I did find one black two-piece swimsuit which I think they call tankini style which the top draped rather nicely instead of clinging that awful way, but in order to be big enough to drape down my midsection, the cups were ENORMOUS (too big)! And the panties part of it was like wearing small and way-too-skimpy-style underwear, no thank you!

So anyhow...anyone post-mastectomy (or anyone else, thanks for any thoughts), how do you deal with swimming? Wonder if I could use a regular suit and try to put a regular prosthesis in the built-in bra part? I understand there are also special swim prostheses that are lighter and maybe $100. Does anyone use them? Does anyone swim with a regular prosthesis?

I am pretty discouraged right now...with the extra blubb I've acquired and now the loss of a breast I feel kind of freakish, basically just want to hide away (and eat, the perfect solution . I know I need to skip the self-pity, start swimming to help get the weight off, etc., but having trouble getting started.

sorry this is so long. Thanks very much for any help!

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Old 02-20-2005, 09:00 AM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: london
Posts: 608
layla= HB User
Re: After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

I have no clue about the swimsuits or prothesis i just wanted to say that i understand being disheartened, but please dont be the swimming baths isn't going to be full of perfect people, they will be normal everyday people so don't fret. Have you tried using a search engine to find shops or online information this may give you new ideas. But cheer up most importantly!

Old 02-21-2005, 07:52 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 118
seekalot HB User
Re: After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

Thank you, Layla. I appreciate the kind words. You're right and I will try to remember that the pool is just full of average people mostly too. The discouragement factor is a hard one but can't be given in to...

Must say I am surprised and still a little disappointed that no one here seems to be post-mastectomy and can share their experience with prostheses, swimsuits and such. Maybe someone will still come along and jump in! I hope so, I would really appreciate it.

Old 02-22-2005, 02:15 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 115
phaedrus HB User
Re: After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

Hi seekalot,
just wanted to say that despite not being able help substantially, I admire your strength for wanting to get back in the game and exercise when it seems to be a relatively short amount of time since the surgery (emotionally as well as physically). It also takes a level of determination to get on a message board to get the info you need, so you obviously have what it takes you get your life back on track.
I was wondering if there is a breast cancer support group in your area. Maybe other women have had exactly the problems you are facing now, and can help you.
Whatever the case, please keep checking in with us. If you are the only person here post-mastectomy, you may be able to help others with this kind of surgery looming. And we are here if you need to vent.
Good luck with your recovery and finding what you need....

Old 02-25-2005, 04:19 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 118
seekalot HB User
Re: After Mastectomy -- Types Prosthesis; Starting Swimming

Thank you, phaedrus, for your kind words.

I have responded to a few posts here, but it seems most of the questions aren't anything I can help with. I'm surprised too that there are so few post-mastectomy people here. Maybe it's because after our experience with cancer ends, it's not something most survivors are eager to keep "revisiting"...takes a special mind-set or desire to be helpful to others. It's so much more tempting to just "move on" and try to forget about the trauma of it (just human nature).

I guess I'm selfish too, but I had decided I didn't want to get into a breast cancer group. I thought it would be depressing and maybe even more traumatic, and that was the last thing I needed. But maybe I'm wrong...

Thank you again for jumping in. Much appreciated.

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