Complications, Pain & Healing

WORDS: Corrine Barraclough PHOTOGRAPHY Corrine Barraclough

CB’s BC Journal

It’s now four weeks since my surgery; healing and recovery is slow.

Last week, I went back to Robina Hospital to have my two seromas drained. These are complications following surgery, basically two large build ups of fluid which the body has decided to produce as a result of being ‘attacked’ in surgery.

Seromas are pretty common I’m told but, of course, I’m concerned that mine are going to be persistent. The very large one, on my right-hand side where I also had 25 lymph nodes removed, is so big I can’t put my arm down by my side properly.

I was hoping for a few days respite at least, after being drained, but they filled back up literally overnight.

There was a point during that appointment at Robina when I had two doctors, plus a student nurse, plus three breast care nurses around my bed in the wound bay. It was quite the party – except it was a really painful party and the worst I’ve ever been to!

The plan was to use one large needle to drain the seromas and then put some fluid into each expander. The pain was so intense I had a few tears and at one point wondered what would happen if I vomited into my facemask. Would I choke? I almost blacked out the pain was so harsh.

But, I got through it, put my sober little head on the pillow that night feeling pretty proud of myself.

My GP altered my pain relief, which has helped a little, but that doesn’t change these large pockets of fluid I’m stuck with.

The good news is that my blood tests, which I had to have done before this latest appointment, showed my body’s recovering well from chemo. Still some recovery to do, but my body’s rising to the challenge. Hurrah!

I’ve said yes to seeing a radiation oncologist who will discuss the pros and cons of considering preventative radiation, but I’m not panicking about that at this point.

I do not need more chemo; I cannot express my relief at hearing that.

I’ve started planning fun hairstyles to try as my hair grows back, so look out for bold styles, plenty of colour and many strands of joy over the next few months!

I’m wearing a compression top, doing my daily physio, keeping up with writing work, and making sure I get plenty of rest.

When the poor me’s start sneaking into my mind, I remind myself of those key words I was told by the doctor, “Your lab results are showing a complete pathological response to treatment”.

I must be patient. I’ve had the very best lab results anyone could hope for, now my body needs time to reset after everything it’s been through. Considering my diagnosis was in February, this entire year has been focused on fighting breast cancer.

I’ve smashed it.

Now I need to breathe, get plenty of rest and sleep, and allow nature to do its thing.

My friends, we are on the path to healing!

More soon,

Corrine x

Corrine was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, which has spread to her lymph nodes. Her medical oncologists are pursuing a “cure”, which will begin with a six-month course of chemotherapy at Gold Coast University Hospital, followed by surgery at Robina Hospital and then likely further treatment.