Home Forums Melanoma: Stage III Post-CLND – Day 9

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    Good morning, everyone –

    I’m on Day 9 of post-CLND (axillary) and feeling pretty good. Went to my surgical follow-up yesterday and the doc says everything is healing nicely. The drain will be in for probably another two weeks (expected, but DAMMIT!). Met briefly with the oncologist and got my final staging which is Stage 3c – they removed 18 lymph nodes, 3 tested positive and there was matting. I will have dermatology visits, full-body PET and brain MRI scans every 3 months. For now things look as good as they can :D , we’ll see where we are in 3 months.

    I really appreciate all of the tips that I received here before the surgery, especially from Linny. The “fear of the unknown” is the worst! For anyone else looking at an axillary node dissection, here are my top tips:

    – get a lanyard with a snap on the end, the kind you hang around your neck. It was invaluable to me while I showered…clip the drain bulb on the lanyard so you have free hands in the shower.

    – get a few “wife beater” shirts that you can step into to wear under your tops. You won’t be able to wear a bra for a while, so this helps to keep things under control a bit :P It also give you someplace to pin the drain bulb. I found that pinning the bulb sort of under my arm was least conspicuous.

    – bring a pillow to rest your arm when you are in the car. I found that it helped a lot, especially going over bumps.

    – try to use your arm even a little bit as soon as possible. I was able to start moving it right away – the night I got home – and I think that helped a lot. By day 3 I could lift my hand to the top of my head to wash my hair, and by day 4 I was able to hold my hairbrush and hairdryer.

    – make sure you have some button-front or zip-up tops. I went to Goodwill the day before my surgery and got some men’s casual dress shirts for $2.00 each (and they are cute!). I got men’s shirts since they are cut a little bit more roomy in the sides – the women’s shirts were all stretchy and a little tighter than I would like, since they wouldn’t hide the drain bulb as well. I also got some zip-up hoodies that have inside pockets to hold the drain bulb.

    – be prepared for the drain to be a TOTAL pain. There is no way around it, but remember that it’s serving a very important purpose.

    Have a great day, everyone!



    So happy that you are coping well Sheila.

    It’s not easy to handle emotional news, and physical pain as well.

    The fact that you exercised your arm asap will do a lot toward prevention of problems down the track.

    I don’t remember much about my drains, it is all a long time ago now. (like chilbirth! :D )

    I had a double axilla removal in 2002 for Breast cancer.

    The breast cancer Unit had a therapist who comes in early the 1st day post surgery

    to start you on exercises. It helped a lot, but I had problems from the start with my left (dominant )arm. I had what they call cording in that arm, and mamma mia..the sessions to stretch out that arm in the following months!!!

    I reckon it is apparent pretty early if you are to have trouble.

    if you can raise your arm above your head already, and continue to exercise, wear a compression sleeve for travel, and maybe gardening..avoid very hot temperatures with it, you should be fine. :)

    I’m really sorry about your staging dx. I so hope you go on and prosper with great long term management of this disease.



    Hi Sheila!

    Well you certainly sound like you’re in good spirits and have a good handle on the situation. The worst is behind you because now you know where you stand. Your oncologist should probably be discussing treatment options with you soon. Most of us at Stage III are offered Interferon, “Observation-only”, or clinical trial (if available). At Stage IIIC you stand a good chance of having an offering for a trial, depending on which ones your clinic is participating in.

    You’re taking showers? 😮 I didn’t take any until after the drain was out. Oh well! It’s all in the past now. LOL.

    It’s good to hear that you’re moving your arm. I didn’t think to try the wife beater shirts. I just used stretchy camisoles with shelf bras when the bras I got from my surgeon were in the laundry. I also started that stretching exercise I mentioned in a different post when I got home from surgery. It hurt like hell but I stuck with it.

    Breast cancer-related web sites are great resources for information on lymphedema management. Those gals are your “sisters-in-arms”. Winterlong brought up a good point about the hot weather. Another good time to don the sleeve would be if you’re going outdoors in hot/humid weather. The ones made by Lymphedivas are very hot weather friendly, not to mention very pretty.


    Hi Sheila,

    Found your posts and will be following your story. I am also from Beer City USA(Grand Rapids;) I’ve never seen anyone else from GR post so you caught my eye. I was diagnosed in 2012, had bilateral inguinal dissection 12/29/2012 and staged at 3A. I was referred to U of M though so not really familiar with the clinic at Lemmen Holton. I know it’s relatively new though so not sure if it was even there in 2012. I’ll be interested to see what they suggest for adjuvant treatment. I do know that interferon is what they suggest for stage 3A, but at 3C, I’m curious what they’ll offer you.

    Keep us updated and I’ll keep you in my prayers.


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