Coping with everyday life

I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and am having the excision and lymph node removal on 2nd October. I live on my own and wonder how soon I might be able to drive and do shopping and all the usualthings in life and on a silly note, how the hell do you do your bra up if you can hardly move your arm particularly round your back? You lucky ladies with partners probably wont have that problem.

Hi Maisie
I came home from hospital after WLE etc to an empty house as my daughter was away at Uni and my friends - who brought me home - went back to work. I had already got a stock in of stuff like wahing powder, loo roll etc but was out to the local shop about an hour after getting back, looking for something appealing for dinner!!
Apart from not driving for a few weeks, I can’t think of anything I was unable to do - in moderation and not a lot of housework I admit. Certainly no trouble doing up my bra, but if you do, get a couple of crop tops in which will do until you are more mobile.
Best of luck with your op, you will feel so much better when its over.
Love Laine

I live on my own too and I didn’t wear a bra for at least six months as it was painful after the op and radiotherapy. I wore baggy t shirts and a huge jumper belonging to an ex boyfriend. I ended up looking after my brother and my lodger a week after coming out of hospital as they had flu and were iller than me.

Mind you the emotional effects take their toll. So do whatever you feel up to and get friends to help out - it’s surprising that some people are much better at this than others and my friendships changed considerably post cancer


What Mole says about the emotional effects is horribly true. My “best friend” couldnt come to see me for a week because she was getting a new carpet fitted, whereas people I hadn’t really thought much of were the ones who rang, sent flowers etc. It certainly made me rethink friendships.
Love Laine


You’ll surprise yourself on how well you’ll cope, I certainly surprised myself on how I’ve got through it so far, and I hope that you’ve got a good network of friends around you, I had a similar experience as devagirl, the friends I thought I could count on fell short and people that I hadn’t considered came through for me and are fantastic, they even all grouped together and arranged and hosted my daughters birthday party for me, nothing is too much trouble.

With regards to the bra, I’m due to have a bilateral mastectomy in October, my partner leaves in the morning before I wake up and is home late so its something I’ve worried about, but I’m searching everywhere for bras with a front fastening, or the other option that I thought might be a good idea is to put the bra around your waist, do it up at the front and then twist round and pull up.

You should talk to your BCN, I’m sure there are organisations out there that would go shopping for you or help you in other ways.

Best of luck to you.



Dear Maisey
I had WLE and 2 sentinel nodes removed in July - I was able to drive after one week. I found the most comfortable and supportive bra was a sports bra for the first couple of weeks post op. If you are worried about being able to do up your bra, then consider buying a couple of sports bras with front opening - or do as I did; put it round your waist back to front and turn it round before pulling up the straps…
All the very best with your operation.

Hi there,
I found it better to leave bra on day and night - I’m not particularly big but found the extra support helped after the op. Of course one needs to take it off to wash occassionally! It can be done with one good arm but is a bit of a fiddle. Be careful about lifting heavy shopping bags too soon - can cause problems (limphodema - spelling?).


I have just had lumpectomys in both boobs and all of my lymph nodes removed under my left arm 2 weeks ago and it is healing really well. Start the dreaded chemo on 25th but the surgery has been fine. Could bath and move about fine within a couple of days but the drains stayed in for a week and they get on your nerves but ended up putting mine in a bag. I was able to drive after a week and back to normal day to day life in a week have 2 little babies who are both very heavy and am able to carry both of them. I was told the worst thing you can do is not move as fluid build up but obviously dont over do it. It must be very hard on your own but you will be fine.

Good luck


I am having a masectomy on 28th sept and I to am wondering how soon I will be able to drive, its the right boob, can anyone give me any information on this. Thanks


I too would be interested to know how soon after a mastectomy one can drive. BC nurse reckoned 4-6 weeks but that seems a long time. My mastectomy was on 3rd September - also right side. At the moment, I think my main problem would be the seat belt especially if I had to stop suddenly or something. Anyone with experience of this?

God bless.



My BCN told me I could drive once I could do a full 3 point turn looking over both shoulders without pain. I don’t have surgery until 3 October so can’t say how long that will take. She reckoned 4 or 5 weeks

Sharon x

Thank you all for your replies and good advice. Does everyone have drains when they come out of hospital? What do you do with them? I am very encouraged by all your kind thoughts and stories of sheer positiveness. I hope I will be as brave.


My Insurance company told me I could drive when I had full mobility!!! I waited about three weeks!!

Our local WRVS made small heart shaped cushions which can be placed under the seatbelt to take pressure off scar area which was great, also being just a heart shaped cushion means they don’t look obvious when left in the car!!

Xx Xx Xx

Hi Peejay

Thanks for your comments, do you know if all WVRS branches make those cushions? I would be very interested in purchasing one if they do. Ilive in the countryside and so transport by car is essential. Nearest shop is eleven miles so will need to be able to wear seatbelt even as passenger.


Yes, the cushion sounds brilliant. Sweetheart, please don’t worry about going in the car as a passenger. The passenger side seat belt hasn’t been any problem at all. I’ve been out with my son and his family lots of times. I just feel that the position of the driver side one might be a different matter.

God bless.


I had left side “done” and was able to drive gear shift car 10 days after leaving hospital, so 17 days post op. I wouldn’t have been able to drive a long way but a little every day and you get used to it and I didn’t find the seat belt an issue; it was more of a problem after radiotherapy when the skin was well fired.

I managed to drive - very short distance within 2 weeks of the op and it was OK. I found having my softie in was really helpful and if things were a bit tender, I tucked a hiking sock stuffed with cotton wool under the seat belt in my cleavage area. That reminds me that the sock is still in the glove compartment - it might be an idea to remove it now!
I stayed in hospital until the drains were removed - they were a bit of a pest, but if you do have to come home with them, you can tuck them in an over the shoulder bag so that everyone doesn’t get a full view of your bodily fluids.
Going back to bras, I’ve discovered Miriam Stoppard’s maternity (how ironic) bras. They’re basically tight crop tops with no seams at all and cost £10 from Debenhams. They hold the softie in place really well and are very comfy. They were a little difficult to get over my head at first and I did at one point resort to wriggling them down over my bum, although it might be a good idea to have a pair of scissors handy in case you get stuck! The advantage of them is that they don’t put pressure on any particular area and they don’t slide about - I have always struggled to get bras to fit my large back and smallish cup size.
Must go and find that sock!

Thanks for your comments I think the sock is a great idea, must see if I can find some soft ones and use
I have bought some soft crop tops with no seams from Tescos, see bc nurse on 26th and shall take them and ask if okay to use as they dont undo have to go over my head, so could be interesting.