Home Forums Melanoma: Stage III Bunmom – how are you feeling?

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    Just thought I’d pop in to say I hope that all went well with your surgery and that I’ve been thinking about you.



    Hi Linny!

    My account would not allow me to login and couldn’t “find” me to issue a new password! Catherine suggested I re-register, so I did, but then I could suddenly login. Weird!

    I had a radical axillary lymph node dissection on Friday April 5. The first night in the hospital was rough but things are pretty good at home. I have my JP drain and it’s a pain the the butt, especially because it clogged my first night at home and my mom had to strip it to clear it. Still draining a lot but at Day 5 I guess that’s expected.

    What made me finally decide to have the surgery is my family history. I’ve had 5 relatives with melanoma, although none had it invasive enough to require even a SLNB (all were thin and superficial). I also have many dysplastic nevi.

    Thanks for asking about me. I’m both annoyed I had to have this surgery and relieved it’s over.


    I’m surprised they kept you overnight. Mine was day surgery and I went home the same day. But I guess every surgeon is different. The main thing is that you’re home and recovering.

    The first night was rough because I knew if I moved wrong my arm would hurt like hell. But I got over it.

    Have they given you the results of the surgery yet?


    How are things with your arm now?

    I am having axillary lymph removal on the 19th. Any advice with recovery?


    Hi Kellysue,

    Aside from some minor swelling my arm is fine.

    I had no complications from the surgery whatsoever. Dealing with the drain was a pain in the butt and my husband helped with that. But here is a list of things that helped me and perhaps they will help you and others as well:

  • My surgeon was also a breast cancer surgeon so I was given a mastectomy bra to wear. The best part of those is the easy on/off. Plus, the style that I had also had a pouch for the drain, which velcroed to the bra itself. If your doc doesn’t offer you one, get a stretchy cami or a sports bra, which will help keep the drain in place.

  • If you’re sensitive to band-aid or medical tape adhesive like I am, rotate tape/band-aid to give your skin a break.
  • There is a minor stretching exercise you can do after your surgery. This was taught to me by a breast cancer survivor. Put your fingertips on top of your shoulder; walk with your fingertips up your shoulder and neck; if you start to feel pain, STOP. Repeat this about 3 times. The goal is to gradually be able to walk with your fingertips past your ear, over your head and to the tip of the opposite ear. The best part is that you can do this sitting, standing, or lying down. Practice this before the surgery so you get a feel for it. Then, show your surgeon and ask him/her if this is OK. Mine saw no problem with it. But do check with yours. In two weeks I was able to walk to the opposite ear!
  • You will feel numbness in the area of the surgery. This is because in order to remove the nodes, some nerves were cut. They will heal, but in the meantime you have pain control.
  • Find out from your surgeon what lymphedema symptoms to look out for. Not everyone gets this but it’s still a good idea to get familiar with it.
  • Find a physical therapist in your area who knows how to manage lymphedema and who can measure you for a compression sleeve. At the very minimum you will need one for airline travel and for activities that can cause your arm to swell. Your arm will be prone to swelling and why push the envelope? Your therapist will be able to provide you with stretches and light exercise you can do to ward off any major problems.
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