If you are preparing to undergo a Mastectomy or other breast surgery, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. Planning ahead of time will ensure that you will have everything you need for a comfortable recovery. To help breast cancer patients facing surgery, we have compiled a list of items consisting of all of the necessities from your hospital stay to recovering at home.
Get Your Home Ready
- Prepare and freeze at least one week’s worth of meals.
- Stock up on healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and yogurt.
- Organize your pantry and bathroom items so that your necessities are at waist level where you can easily reach them after surgery.
- Place everything that you might need within reach, such as coffee cups, plates, shampoo, tissues, magazines, remote control, and anything else you may need off of higher shelves before-hand.
- We recommend that you check three days before on a daily basis and be mindful of things you had to reach for.
- Wash extra sheet sets in advance so that they will be ready for use.
- Clean your house and take care of household tasks ahead of time.
- Set up a comfortable and quiet recovery area. Most people find comfort in an oversized chair with an ottoman or a recliner.
- Clear an end table where you can keep your necessities.
Preparing for Surgery
- Take care of personal matters that won’t be possible during recovery, such as doctor, dentist, or eye appointments.
- Compile a list of things that will require help during your recovery, such as cleaning the house, doing laundry, taking out the trash, transportation for children until you can drive, walking the dogs, cleaning kitty litter, picking up groceries, or anything else you may need. Recruit family and friends to help with these items.
- Prepare your children ahead of time so that your absence and recovery is not a surprise. Let them know when you’ll be home and how much you look forward to playing games, watching movies, reading books, and spending time with them but you won’t be able to hug or lift them for a while.
Suggested Items to Pack for the Hospital
- Front button and loose fitting shirts.
- Comfy bottoms (zippered pants or tight bottoms like leggings may be difficult to get on and off so choose loose bottoms with an elastic waistband.
- Extra underwear.
- Slip on shoes, slippers, or snuggly socks. Make sure they have a rubber bottom.
- Pack items that help you feel clean without showering since showering may be off limits for days after surgery.
- Face/body wipes are a great option for when you need to freshen up without getting up (opt for natural options to avoid skin irritation).
- Bring a hairbrush and hair ties
- Dry shampoo and a hairband for keeping unwashed hair under control
- Battery powered toothbrush since even small movements may be difficult initially
- Moisturizer, you may find your hands extremely dry in a hospital setting. Hand cream or lotion can do wonders to replenish your skin’s natural moisture.
- Phone charger
- Bring a small pillow which is perfect for under the arm support or between the seatbelt and your chest on the way home from the hospital.
- A soft blanket which will help keep you warm in the often chilly hospital room.
- Your favorite snacks and food items since hospital food isn’t known for being the greatest.
- A water bottle. Having a large insulated water bottle reminds you to keep hydrated without having to fill a small glass regularly since water is essential to recovery.
- Mints to help with dry mouth.
- Eyeglasses and a case. Opt out of bringing contact lenses to the hospital.
- Bring your post-surgical camisole with drain holder that your local mastectomy shop will provide for you and bill your insurance.
- Books and magazines, brain games, sudoku, crosswords, wordsearch, or other thought provoking apps that you download on your phone are great options.
- Coloring books and supplies. Studies have shown that coloring provides positive therapeutic effects.
What post-operative items to have at home and suggestions for a comfortable recovery
- Have a Brobe robe with pockets for drains to ensure comfort.
- Have a pen and notebook for journaling (great for processing your feelings and what you’ve been through), tracking medication times, and questions you have for your doctor at your upcoming visit.
- Purchase one of those long grabber devices (found on Amazon) that can be used to pick up items without leaning down or reaching up.
- Subscribe to streaming services.
- Download audiobooks or podcasts.
- Have a wedge pillow for transitioning to a bed.
- Put a pad or towel on the top of your mattress/sheets in case your drains leak.
- Use a detachable showerhead in the shower.
- Keep a spill-free water bottle by your bed and drink plenty of water to prevent Urinary Tract Infections.
- Have a cooler on your porch if you are receiving a meal train from family and friends.
It is important to accept your temporary limitations while you are healing. Acknowledging your feelings and connecting with others can be a huge relief. Remember that recovery is temporary. Even though you may have some setbacks, eventually this will be behind you and your life without surgeries, doctors appointments, and bandages will return. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.