Advice/Tips needed - Mastectomy

Hi

In about 10 days time I’ll be undergoing a mastectomy (without reconstruction). I was wondering if anyone has any advice or tips to give me regarding everything from what to take into hospital, to what I can/should do afterwards to help myself heal or just things to be aware of.
If it makes any difference to the advice, I’m 29yrs old with two small children at home (2yrs and 3yrs).
Any help would be gratefully received.

Thanks
J x

Hi J
I found that taking a little treat in with me-my lippy!!- and a little nail care kit was great to keep my mind off what what going on.
More practically, money for fone/TV if its paid for, Ipod, dry shampoo,good book/mags and a long handled shoulder bag for carrying your drain bag in.
And start the arm exercises assoon as you can-it really helps with mobility and lymphodema.
As for the home, I would take any offers to help. Babysitting, meals housework etc.
I didnt have to think about that so Its easy to say rest up, but do try to take advise from the pysio for any tips about lifting them.
Best of luck
Cathie xx

Sorry to hear you’ve got to go through this J. I had a mx without recon last October. I found pyjamas with a front buttoning top were good because if you’re not up to taking the surgical gown off after the op, you can at least put the pyjama bottoms on to preserve modesty. When you have the top on, you can just unbutton for anything that needs doing / checking. Your arm on the operated side will probably be stiff, so you’d struggle to pull a nighty over your head as well.

I would take ear plugs with you - surprising how many people snore.

Also take a book, as you’ll start to feel better quite quickly.

You’ll need to take a comfortable non underwired bra that is not low cut. They’ll give you a ‘softee’ (cotton wool type boob) to put in your bra so you don’t look lopsided.

I found the drain (which I came home with) very painful, more so after a couple of days. I guess you’ll need to make sure your toddlers don’t pull on it while it’s still in.

Do the exercises they give you. They help your arm get mobile again and help prevent lymphodema. I did them 3 times a day for 6 weeks and still do them once a day 4 months later.

I think you’ll struggle to lift the children (I was told no lifting anything remotely heavy but I was glued rather than stitched, I don’t know if this makes a difference), so you might need to think about how they get into / out of their cots / beds.

I used a V shaped pillow for a few weeks after the op.

That’s all I can think of for now. The idea of the mx is worse than the reality. I hope all goes well for you and that you’ll be playing outside with your little ones once Summer arrives. X

Hi

I stocked up on meals in the freezer to make sure I didn’t have to think about food. My kids were 5 and 2, we moved the 2 year old I to a toddler bed with a removable side to stop him falling out- so he could get in and out himself. They had a few sleep over at grandmas and I took al offers of playdates. My iPhone was a lifesaver, had all my music on, Gavin and Stacey series etc to keep me entertained, Vaseline for dry lips, earplugs for noisy neighbours, button pyjamas, button up top for going home in and magazines.

Once at home the v breast feeding pillow was good, do your exercises and stuff housework. It took me a while to get over the anaesthetic so I felt quite worn out for a while, but it is really important to listen to your body and not do too much. You also need to be prepared for at the psychological impact. I didn’t have a mx, but they removed half of my breast and it took a while to adjust to the new me. Give yourself time.

Goodluck
Debx

Hi Mummy

Sorry that you find yourself on this site but you will find everyone on hear really supportive and helpful.
I had a mastectomy without recon on December 1st and all I can say is take a pair of front fastening pj’s it much easier for them to check you out when in hospital, tissues for when the tears come and they will, and generally just listen to what your body is telling you, there is only you who knows whats best for you, if you want to pm for any moral support please do and I will try and answer any questions you have.

Good luck xx

Hi
I can only really echo the advice of the other ladies. I had my MX on 15th Dec. My daughter was 5 just over a week ago and my son is 3. With regards to the kids and rest. I stayed in hospital until may drains were removed and i felt up to coming home. I had the MX on the wed and came home on the following monday. My consultant was very supportive of my request not to rush home. I knew i would rest better in hospital and recover quicker. I am lucky and have i very supportive family around me along with great friends. So my husband got plenty of help with the kids and meals. So if the offers come in take them, child care, meals, washing and ironing etc. Plan it out before you go into hospital if you can so you know who’s looking after the kids and doing what. It kinda helps thoose around feel useful as well. I found knowing what the kids were doing and who with who put my mind at rest so i could focus on resting and recoving too knowing they would be safe and more importantly happy.

My top 5 of things to take into hospital.

  1. Button front pj’s (primark are cheap and cheerful and wash well)
  2. nice knickers you ae comfortable in.
  3. Wet Wipes (your a mum you’ll already know how great they are.
  4. money for tv and newspaper trolley.
  5. nice photo of the kids. (tears will come with out a doubt, but with this photo you will be able to smile and show them off to the nurses)

Another tip, if you simply can’t be bothered to change out of the hospital gown that first day, ask for another to wear like a dressing gown to protect your dignity at the back where they can fall open. Put the effected arm side into it first and the good arm second.
When you are home, don’t rush to do housework, just do what you feel up too. I found if i overdid it one day i would suffer the next. The kids knew i had a poorly booby before i went in as i had tenderness and breast pain. (which took me to the doctors in the first place)They knew to be gentle and careful around mummy and to cuddle mummys good side.

Anything i can help with i will try, just ask. The time waiting for it to happened isn’t an easy time i know, but my virtual ear is here whenever you may need it.

Take Care
Jo xxx

Hi mummy29

As well as the advice you have received from the other forum users you may find it useful to read the BCC booklet ‘Your operation and recovery’
It has information on what to expect during your stay in hospital, when you have returned home and during your recovery from surgery. If you would like to order a copy or read this on-line just follow the link below:-

breastcancercare.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/publications/quick-order-list/*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/100/

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes Sam, BCC Facilitator

post deleted

I am 8 weeks post double mx and can confirm what the others are saying ie the reality is nowhere as bad as the thought of it.

Take the pain relief advice you are given and don’t try to be too brave about it. The pills really do work. About a week after my op I experienced a lot of skin sensitivity to the extent that the feel of clothes on my skin hurt a bit. I found that wearing anything made of silk or satin next to it felt better. That cleared up after a couple of weeks but it was something I hadn’t expected so of course worried that it would be there forever. The likelihood is that you won’t even experience it.

Start off with the very gentle exercises and don’t overdo them. I introduced the harder ones gradually when I felt ready for them. I am amazed now at how far up the wall I can walk my fingers compared to when I first tried it.

Good luck. I hope everything goes smoothly for you. I am sure it will.

Rose

Am nearly 18 months post Mx (no recon) and came here too for advice on what to take into hospital/recovery etc. So sorry you’re having to go through this but this site is just brilliant and so many inspiring ladies here. Here’s my top tips:

  1. Order some leaflets from BCC (they’re free!) Invaluable reading and will answer a lot of your questions while you’re recovering.
  2. A big yes to button fronted pj’s - I also took in trackie bottoms and a hooded zip up top (it was orange, I still wear it, my husband says I look like a ‘baked bean’) for changing into when you’re ready to wear day time clothes and good for when you go home too. It made me feel better to change out of my pj’s during the day.
  3. Do the exercises religiously - you’ll get the use of your arm back so much quicker and keep the dreaded lymphoedema at bay. And take all the painkillers you’re offered.
  4. I used one of those free bags from a magazine for my drains and took to going for a walk every day once I felt up to it. How to be fashionable with breast cancer.
  5. Boredom was the worst bit - I didn’t go home until after my drains were removed. Take lots of stuff to keep you occupied. And as already mentioned ear plugs and an eye mask.

It really isn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be! And take all the help that’s offered and look after yourself. Especially as you have two wee ones.
Massive good look, will be thinking of you and look forward to reading your post Mx posts.

Love K
xxx

G’day Mummy 29,

What a good idea to ask about tips before the surgery. I am due to have my in early March, so I will keep peering here for all the good advice too.

Good luck with everything J. I hope it all goes smoothly for you.

I have been writing a list of things that I think I might need to. It is probably more of what you have already got, but you never know.

Lone’s List:

Buttoned up pj’s
Little bed hat for my baldy head in case it gets a bit chilly.
Nice smelling baby wipes for freshening up in between washes.
Perfume
Moisturizer & lippy, mirror etc
A few different coloured pashminas to add glam to the pj’s (and also hide the missing boobs).
alcohol / antibacteria wipes (to wipe the loo seat, & wash bowls out before I use them)
Slip on slippers & a slightly bigger/ comfortable dressing gown.
Am going to sneak in some air freshener too ( lots of smelly toilets will put me off!)
Really nice chocolates to bribe nurses to get extra special care, (well you know what I mean?)
V shaped pillow
My own soft towels etc (I don’t care about the extra washing, I think we deserve something nice…don’t you?)
I plan to have an ipod with all my tunes
A good book and book light for evenings if I can’t sleep.
A nice photo of the family
A nice box of tissues

So, as you can see, I will need a large suitcase for all my stuff, but I don’t care. If I am going to be in there for a few days, I am going to be comfortable.

Take care all

Lone xx

Well done to Kulka your list sounds wonderful, wish someone would have posted that before I had my mx, I came home after 5 days as I didnt feel as if I could face the world as had depression after the op, but with the support of the nurses I faced my demons and came out stronger.

Good luck to you both

debs x

Just a wee note to say I am thinking of you, knowing that you will be having your mastectomy soon. Let us know how you got on when you are feeling up to it matey?

Take care and wishes for a speedy recovery.

Lots of love, hugs and support.

Lone x

hello ladies,
good luck for your your mx, i will be thinking about you, ive got to have a mx after my chemo has finished, but my breast surgeon said its a day case and he doesnt like to use drains, he did my SNB AND WLE and i feel very confident in him.

love and hugs to all
Donna
xx

Tomorrow’s the big day and I’m starting to feel a bit sick now!
I’ve been absolutely fine for ages and now I suddenly feel ill knowing that this time tomorrow I’ll only have 1 boob!

I know it has to happen but just can’t get my head around what its going to look like and I think I’ll be shocked and horrified - I can’t explain how I feel but its horrid at this precise moment.

I’m sure I’ll feel more positive again soon but right now I just want to cry.

Jen x

Hello mummy.I been there 2 years ago your young children will be your light and help you.I started to write poems this one i want share with you was the one i wrote night before the op.And i could hear myself say today is my day.

today is my day
the sun shines and my face smiles
today is my day
i feel as warm as the sun
today is my day.

tomorrow dark sky
and rain will fall
like my tears will fall
my fear inside is dark like the sky
but i will hold on to my day
the sun and the warmth and all will be fine
on my day

my day has come
theres a big storm and winds out today
just how i feel being in a storm
with high winds which blow me over to the ground
but then i had a thought
of my day
and picked myself up and shouted out loud
today is my day

jane x

Good luck for tomoro mummy I know exactly how you are feeling cos mine is so fresh in my mind, all I can say is be brave and think of your lovely family and friends, I for one cried like a baby when my hubby left me when i went to the anesetic room all i could think about was my sons and grand daughter and that made the crying worse and couldnt stop crying they had to knock me out cos i was in such a state!!, I couldnt look at my no breast for a couple of days and just cried all the time, it just cos I didnt feel like a woman anymore and it took all my confidence away from me, but with the help of the lovely nurses who sat with me for hours they got me through and I also spoke to a couple of women on the ward that had been there and were having recon, I now feel stronger than ever to beat this disease and am 2 chemo sessions in, have had my hair shaved off today and feeling libeated about it (no more bad hair days for a while), one thing this experience does is make you a stronger person, you will be fine, will be thinking of you tomoro.

xx

I’m back!
Feel absolutely exhausted all the time at the moment but at least the op’s all over and hopefully a success.
How are you all?

Lone - How are you feeling about yours? When do have your op?

Jen x

Hi Jen

Glad everything went well, have been thinking about you, just take it easy now and get plenty of rest.

Debs x

Hi Jen & everyone,

I suppose you are at that waiting for results stage again matey? I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are having a speedy recovery in the meantime? How long were you in hospital for? Are you coping ok at home? Has it been tricky with the kid(s)?

I had some bad news last week and I haven’t been able to really pick myself up from it. I discovered that my surgeon has taken a months leave without notice and that I have to find a new one. My operation date was for the 10.3 but it is all up in the air at the moment and no one can tell me what is going to happen. They say that because I had my chemo first, I should be a priority as my surgery is time sensitive (as it could start to grow back), but there has been no news from the hospital and no one is returning my calls.

But I am even more upset that the surgeon, who promised me that she would speak to the multidisciplinary team and apply for funding for me to have a bilateral mastectomy, against her advice, didn’t apply for the funding or tell me about it so that I could try and appeal the decision and get my Gp to apply for the funding. Now it is too late.

It seems wrong to me that no one has reorganized my surgery, told me what they are going to actually do in the surgery or even show me or talk to me about a breast prosthesis or what happens after the surgery. I feel so unprepared and I like to be organised. What was your experience?

Lone x