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How To Survive a Lumpectomy (32 Easy Steps)

  1. Don’t flinch when the doctor asks to examine you. Act like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like you regularly take off your top and bra for anyone who asks you.
  2. When he recommends a lumpectomy, shrug and say ‘Cool’. Because you are. Cool. You’re not a sissy, you do not shy away from pain or discomfort.
  3. Do not read Chioma’s article on the same subject. It will frighten you.
  4. Listen politely to your aunt who advocates that you pray away the lump instead of surgery.
  5. Pick a local anaesthesia over a general. Sometimes, people don’t wake up from the latter.
  6. Ask the doctor if you can take your iPod with you into the theatre, seeing as you’ll be awake. You might get bored.

    See how pretty the curtains are 🙂

  7. When he says yes, go home and prepare a surgery playlist.
  8. Tell your best friend you’re having a lumpectomy. Prepare to explain to her ignorant ass what a lumpectomy is.
  9. Tell other friends. Prepare  to answer questions like, “You let a doctor feel you up? Did you like it? Will the size/shape/appearance of your breast change? Are you scared?”
  10. Repeat over and over, how you are not scared.
  11. Go home, cry a tear or two, wish for your Mommy, ask God, “Why me, oh?”
  12. Google “lumpectomy”. Pore over statistics that show that your chances of cancer are really next to nil.
  13. Sleep late. Wake early. Pray.
  14. Bounce to the hospital early. Smile a lot. The more you smile, the less likely the nurses and doctors will feel a need to “reassure” you. Reassurance frightens you.
  15. Be the one to ask the questions. “Will you need an x-ray first, Doctor? You know, so you don’t have to spend a long time looking for the lump in the theatre? Will I have keloids, Doctor? Will I need a blood transfusion afterwards, Doctor? Are you sure? Why don’t you just do a PCB count on me, just in case?” Be in control.
  16. When you get to the hospital ward, take pictures. Of your bed, the walls, the pretty curtains.
  17. Crack silly jokes with the surgeon when he comes to examine you. Compare notes on local liquors you have both sampled.
  18. At the last moment, as you’re being wheeled to the theatre on the gurney, discard your surgery playlist in favour of listening to the New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast. Listen to Colum McCann read Benedict Kiely.
  19. When the head nurse insists that you cannot have your iPod in the theatre, resist the urge to give the surgeon the evil eye.
  20. Hide how impressed you are with the theatre. Even though it looks like something straight out of ER, even though you never thought such a facility was possible in Nigeria. Hide your awe.
  21. When the surgeon fakes an Irish accent to amuse you, laugh. When he fancies himself to be Pavarotti and starts to sing in a falsetto, humor him. Do not tell him how worried it makes you that he’s so playful, he’s only trying to put you at ease.
  22. Hide your relief when they put a screen over your shoulders and head. You really did not want to watch them cut you up.
  23. Close your eyes tight and enjoy the exploding colours the first time they prick you with the anaesthetic needle.
  24. Even though you feel only touch, and no pain, try not to imagine what the doctor is doing when you feel clamps, and tweezers and pincers. When you feel his fingers touching your ribcage from the inside, think of a happy place.
  25. Refuse to look at the lump when it’s taken out.
  26. Chat about the weather as he starts to suture you. Ignore the whoosh-whoosh of the thread being pulled through your skin.
  27. Express some surprise that the procedure, from anaesthesia to bandaging, is over in less than twenty minutes.
  28. Enjoy the guilty, childhood pleasure of being wheeled back to your ward.
  29. Eat ravenously. Wait for the nausea Chioma said she experienced.
  30. When it doesn’t come, change into your own clothes. Plug in your ear-phones.
  31. Go home. Receive half a dozen sympathy phone calls. Wait for the depression, the feeling of invasion of privacy, and loss of womanhood that some women have experienced with such procedures.
  32. When that doesn’t come, when all you feel is a slight soreness and mild hunger, sigh and start to write this blog post.





  1. Raynelle mohammed says

    Interesting. Hope the doctor and nurses wouldnt say im a ‘too known’ person?

    • You know the surgeon actually said, “Na wa for your questions oh!” Lol. But like I said, it was my own way of being in control, I could feel like I was somehow in charge.

  2. ThinkTank! says

    How to comment after reading a blogpost about a lumpectomy (9 easy steps)

    1. Click link which you happened to come across while flipping through your TL.
    2. Read Blogpost
    3. Chuckle at the way humor is used to deflect the seriousness of the subject.
    4. Cringe mildly at the description of the surgery.
    5. Finish reading and Sigh
    6. Wonder if this really happened to the author
    7. Read preceding comments
    8. Stop wondering. Start being impressed.
    9. Start writing this comment.

    • Lol! I love your list. Lists are fun, aren’t they? Thanks for reading to the end and not fainting mid-way. 😀

      • ThinkTank! says

        Yes lists are buckets of fun.

        And thank God I didn’t faint mid-way. I write a lot of ‘horror/scary’ fiction. The loss of rep would have been unbearable.

        Here’s a hug for you (HUG)

  3. ayodieji says

    Weird, i see this as a chapter in your autobiography. + 32 cool points.

  4. Oluwhite says

    wow,well first of all thank God you survived but sounds a lil bit scary for me even as a guy reading abt it but i know you to be very strong so thumbs up and congratulations.

    • Thanks, Oluwhite 🙂 And it’s not really that scary if you trust your surgeon. And I did, he was wonderful…

  5. Just reading this and, honestly, the smell of the hospital can send shivers down my spine. Had a surgery ten years ago and I can imagine the varying emotions that come along…

    Glad to have you back, Osemhen!

    Compliments of the season! Here’s wishing you greater days ahead. Shallom! 🙂

  6. I hope you’re recovering just fine. I can relate to this; we also have a history of breast cancer in the family.

    • Recovering very well. I went to work two days after the surgery. Cancer is such a scary concept though. *shudder*

  7. Fashola 'Tunde. says

    Was shocked at seeing the article, though, at first, i thought it was some sort of advice you cooked up in your lil brain to help the needy as usual.
    But after reading the comments and knowing that you are just fine, I am relieved.
    Glad you are fine. Cheers…

  8. Mine was worse, much worse. I cried a lot. Maybe it was cuase I had a total of 6 lumps taken out and we spent over 2hours in the theatre and the local aneasthetsia began to wear off so I felt PAIN… Maybe.
    Lol I really did enjoy reading this though. Love your sense of humor

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