A Guide to Preparing for a Mastectomy

A Guide to Preparing for a Mastectomy

I know I’ve written before about what to do and expect if you are getting a double mastectomy. However, with a double mastectomy, something new and ever-changing is right around the corner. As such, I wanted to provide you with some new tips and ideas before your surgery, along with what to pack for the hospital, and how to have a recovery that is as comfortable as possible.

First and foremost, I want to say that no matter how you got here in your life journey, you are a remarkable person. You are stronger than you realize and can move mountains with your strength. Making the decision to undergo a double mastectomy is incredibly difficult, and I want you to know how amazing you are. You are never alone in this!

There are several different approaches to handle your upcoming mastectomy. Many women have a “Bon Voyage” party before getting their double mastectomy. They gather with all of their friends and throw a supportive party. Laughter and support can help anyone going through a double mastectomy by reminding them that they are not alone.

Another way to prepare for your surgery is by doing what makes you happy and feel calm. I spent the day getting everything ready, going to my annual dental appointment, and going to a play with my daughter and father. That night I hung out with my husband and relaxed by watching our favorite television shows. Be true to yourself and whatever relaxes you.

Here is my suggested to-do and to-buy list:

• Make sure you have family care taken care of. This means that if you have children, make sure that you have them covered. My family took care of mine for a few days when I was in the hospital. I felt good knowing that they were both safe and being well cared for.

• Meals are the last thing you will want to think about as you are recovering. There are many online services that will allow friends and family to sign up to bring dinner to your house. I did this, and it not only gave me peace of mind that dinner was taken care of, but it also gave me an opportunity to see friends and family. My children enjoyed seeing our visitors and having the dinner variety.

• Buy plenty of pillows to support yourself. After a double mastectomy, doctors might tell you a specific way to lie or sit. For example, I wasn’t allowed to lie on my side or stomach for a while after my surgery. I thought that not being able to lie on my side would be difficult, but with the help of the right pillow, I was able to find ways to rest more comfortably. I’d also invest in a wedge pillow because it can help prop you up a little, even while lying down.

• Hair products were a big deal to me. You can’t have a full shower or bath for at least a week after surgery because of the drains. My mom bought me dry shampoo, and it became a very handy and useful product for me to use between showers. I also made sure that I had plenty of hair ties so my hair didn’t annoy me.

• I suggest getting anything that will make your life a little easier. Tumbler cups with straws, so you can have a drink with you at all times. An electric toothbrush, because moving your arms will be difficult at first. Chapstick, lotion, baby wipes, and body sprays are excellent ways to keep you feeling fresh. I bought a Kindle thinking that I would have a lot of time to read. For me, the medicine wore me out so much that I slept a whole lot. (But I’m glad I have my Kindle because I use it all of the time now.)

• Make sure that you have surgical mastectomy bras because you’ll need them. Buy some roomy button-down shirts since they’re easier to get on and off. Comfortable and easy to wear pajamas are essential when it comes to comfort and ease.

I hope my advice comes in useful to you!


Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.

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