No Hill For a Climber, March Progress

Today is March 18,  seventy two days have passed since Loraine’s double mastectomy and she still has not healed enough to begin her radiation treatments. She had been healing just fine until a staph infection reared its ugly head and her radiation treatments had to be put on hold. After a course of strong antibiotics and weekly visits to a wound care specialist, we find ourselves now facing yet another infection. This one came as much or more of surprise than the first one had. Each week her open wound has been checked by the wound care specialist. He would cut out dead fatty tissue along with a tissue called fibrin. Fibrin is a corrupt matrix of cells which must be removed in order to facilitate healthy healing of a wound. Thankfully, Loraine has started her daily hormone treatments despite the delay in her radiation treatments which we had been hoping would begin in the next couple weeks. Now, we await lab reports so that she can begin another round of antibiotics. Oh the joy…

The last half dozen months have been such a learning experience for Loraine and I both. There is so much information that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis that it is extremely difficult for every topic to be covered, and for you to actually be able to absorb it all. It will make your mind spin round and round. It is our sincerest hope that by my writing about our shared experience as a man and wife, that we can help others in their difficult journey too. One thing which we never knew about before hand is it is not uncommon after a bilateral mastectomy for a woman to suffer pain in her sternum. When you ask about pain after breast cancer, you might get a vague answer, Loraine has. For some  women, sternum pain is a normal part of recovery.  This is true for many women, but not for all. For those experiencing sternum pain after breast cancer, Costocondritis may be to blame.

What is Costocondritis? 

Costocondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone. Also known as anterior chest wall pain, Costocondritis causes discomfort in the chest wall around the breastbone (or sternum) and sometimes is severe. Loraine experiences pain ranging from mild to severe. The pain wakes her from sleep quite often.

Costochondritis is a common problem in women who have been affected by breast cancer and acts up in a similar way to arthritis. The pain may be mild to severe with tenderness over the anterior chest and may radiate to the back, shoulders, stomach or arms. Pain is often aggravated with coughing, lifting, straining, sneezing and deep breathing. Flare ups can be triggered by over-working your arms, lifting, sweeping, or over extending. Pain can be constant or intermittent and can last for several days to multiple months or years.

We never heard about Costochondritis anytime before her surgery, and Loraine has not yet been diagnosed with it. Her pain could also be simply from all the manipulation of pectoral muscle tissues being pulled and stretched during surgery. We hope and pray her pain is resolved soon, my poor wife has been through so much already…

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