How One Woman With Breast Cancer Is (Still) Handling a Difficult Recovery

Lesa Sverid is tired and achy from chemo but learning to take the long view.
Lesa Sverid, 44, of Plymouth, Mass., had two lumpectomies, a sentinel node biopsy, and a mastectomy—all in the same year. She's more than ready to move on, but says neither the pain nor the inconveniences have been as bad as she feared.

1. The drain
One of Sverid's first challenges after surgery was dealing with her drain, a contraption she was sent home with after the mastectomy that snaked out of a small incision under her arm. "As everything's healing, there's excess fluid so instead of having [the area] swell, it drains off into a clear hose," she explains. Sverid was worried at first that she might accidentally pull the drain out, but after watching her doctor remove it—and noting that it snaked inside her body a good six inches—she realized that it was unlikely she'd pull it out by mistake.

2. The needles
After the drain was removed, Sverid made two trips to the doctor to get rid of excess fluid with a syringe. "It was uncomfortable—plus for two or three days after I would deal with some minor aches and pains on that side." But the procedure itself didn't hurt.

3. The scars
As for the area where her breast was removed, "for a few months after the mastectomy it itched but you couldn't scratch it out because it was coming from inside." On the other hand, "I thought I'd have less range of motion in my arm," she says. "I thought I'd have to rent one of those electric recliners to help me get up."

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Lead writer: Lorie Parch
Last Updated: April 18, 2008

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