Hello! Anyone got surgery / hospital tips or advice please for a newbie?

Hi Everyone,
I am 44 and was diagnosed with BC on 30th June 2008.
After Mammos,ultrasound and core biopsy I was told I needed a WLE with SNB.
I had 2 lumps ,one 1.5cm grade 1 and 0.5 cm DCIS
My op was booked for 23 July.
OK I was devastated but thought that it could have been a lot worse.
My Consultant also ordered an MRI “just to be sure”
Well they have found a third lump! I had it FNA’d yesterday and its probably another area of DCIS.
So my treatment has been changed to a Mastectomy and immediate LD recon.
I am gutted and don’t feel positive any more.I am worried that more and more will go wrong now.
I am scared of the operation and the fact my body will be changed forever!
I am trying to plan for my hospital stay and thought I had seen a thread with tips on things to pack,but I can’t seem to find it now. My head is spinning!

I would take pj’s not nighties - much better for slipping off for exams.
What are you having done?

Food and ear plugs!

Thanks folks

Earplugs…good idea!

Food ,another good idea!

I am having mastectomy and LD recon…this time next week !!!

I still haven’t got my head round this,I was just told yesterday although I was diagnosed on 30 June

A comfortable cushion or pillow to support your arm (hospitals always seem to be short of them) after surgery.

I am worrying about silly things like getting washed and washing my hair!

Hi Dotchas

Cyber hug to you love.

Understand where you’re at. I had mast plus immediate recon last week - came out on Friday 11th july. You will get your head round it all but it just takes time. One minute your going along tickety boo then your world turns upside down. You can do it and I promise it will get easier and more bearable. Just take each bit as a step rather than thinking too far ahead. Each meeting, each appointment, etc.

Re the op, you can do it - first couple of days you’ll be out of it but be sure to get yourself out of bed as soon as they ask you to. You might feel woozy but once you’re up and about it all gets much better and you will feel more normal again. Then each day you will feel better by miles.

Things to take - body wash/soap(easy open), deodorant, under arm shaver(essential for that non gorilla look), shampoo, hand cream(to have a pamper), nail file(nail buffer is nice idea), body moisturiser(for after that wonderful first wash), face stuff( moisturiser, eye cream etc), flannel*2, towel big and small, dressing gown, slippers, wet wipes, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush, tissues, tweezers, comfy pants, bed socks in case your feet get cold. Also ear plugs and an eye mask are a complete must. Although I took some in with me, I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about pj’s as it’s easier to stay in a gown as you will have drains and a flowing outfit helps rather than anything tight fitting. Make sure your OH brings pillows for the journey home. You will need front easy open button up pj’s when you get home.

I would also take some rich tea biscuits or something to nibble for when you take your meds first thing in the morning as this helps to stop you from feeling nausea. I also had bananas which were great to eat as soon as I got up to line the stomach or in the night when it was grumbling.

Ask for pain relief when you need it, listen to your body. Rest rest and rest. Manage your visitors to make sure you can rest when you need to. Get your OH to do this for you.

I wish you all the luck in the world. I found the staff in the hospital to be wonderfully kind and empathetic. I’m sure your family and friends will wrap their love and support around you to keep you going.

You can do it sweetie. Take the best of care. Any other questions - please ask away.

love Ruthus xxxxxxxxxxxxx

forgot to mention - you will need a couple of good bras but your BC nurse will tell you what to get. Useful hint though - I dug out my maternity and post pregnancy bras and they have been perfect.

Ruthus x

Hi Ruthus,

Thanks for your great reply,I am still reeling from the change of surgery.
There are a lot of good suggestions there,I have loads of smellies in travel sizes so will take those in for washing and pampering.Thanks for the tip about easy open!
Do they help you get washed and wash your hair?
Never thought about deodorant as forgot I have 2 armpits LOL!.Presumably its a no-no on the operated side? I am having some nodes out for sampling.
Not sure I like the idea of being “out of it” but do you just feel sleepy?
I have recently had 2 operations on my foot and the nurses thought I should be sleeping off the anaesthetic but I was sitting up looking for food!
Oh ,I have just remembered how awful hospital tea is ,its always sooo strong!
I’ll miss my cuppa.
I am getting patient controlled analgesia so I just press a button (no idea what it will deliver ,morphine? Gin and Tonic?)
What type of recon did you have,can I ask if it looks OK ,I know its very early days?
Thanks again,everyone is so caring on here,its an honour to belong! (not that we have any choice)


The nurse said they will give me a front fastening bra thing after surgery so I might try and get another couple of those. I have had no need for maternity bras LOL!
I bought some soft non-wired bras at the weekend when I thought I was just having WLE so they may be OK if I don’t swell too much!

MP3 player, and mobile phone. Check first but on my ward you were allowed to have it switched on but on silent. Having that contact with home whenever you feel the need is so comforting.

Good luck.

I’ll get OH to fill up my mp3 player!


Hi dochas,

So sorry you have to be here and a big hug to you, there is a lot of support for you on this site all you have to do is ask a question and someone will come right back for you with love, support and advice.

BIG PANTS for under your op gownie!.. don’t want your Derierre all sticking out do you girl!. Dry shampoo as you may not be showering or washing your hair after your op, if it’s short like mine it’s a great help to keep you tidy. Light reading as you never get into serious reading, always someone chatting to you and keeping your spirits up.

I had a WLE, 19mm grade 3 ductal carcenoma and 8 nodes removed, I was very lucky that no nodes were positive, starting Chemo then rads in about a month’s time.

As Bahons2 said I found the pillow a great help but more after I came out ( still using it), pillows always tend to be in short supply when you are on the ward.

PJ’s are great for pre op but if you have a drain the sleeves tend to get in the way, I took stretchy soft cotton cami tops/PJ’s without sleeves and a light dressing gown/bed jacket for visiting times as it’s warm… as usual in hospital!.

If you are having a Masectomy they might supply you with a Sports Bra after your op ( they did for the lady oposite me, Newcastle RVI), she was great and is coming to see me tomorrow so we can catch up on all that has progressed with us.

You are in expert hands, all the staff at the hospital’s cancer wards are angels, my stay was great and I made some good friends and met a lot of lovely people, who, in your darker times share their love and laughter with you.

Remember everyone is different, you are unique to you and what is ok for you, take notes from everone but make up your own mind, listen to your body and remember you are never alone, you will be back to your old self before you know where you are, after your op each day is a new day closer to being well again.

Love to you and your family at this time,

Love, Carol

Hi Love,

If you have to take a lot of painkillers then you may well get constipated, so eat lots of grapes and fruit and drink as much water as you can. As Ruthus said, get yourself moving around to keep your system moving! It was a big problem for me, and the whole ward new about it! “have you been yet?” echoing in my ears wherever I went. They have stuff to help too, senopod?

I actually liked being in, the only thing that troubled me really was so many folk coming in to see me, don’t be afraid to keep the numbers down if you are feeling a bit low.

Everyone in with me varied very much in their attitude to the operation, I was fine and glad it had been cut out, and much as I loved my boobs, I am fine with my little buddha boob, 4 weeks on, it is now pretty painless and tho I am getting regular draining, chemo starting friday, i am really happy strangely enough! I am appreciating life that bit more and I am confident that I will be enjoying it for a long time yet.

Best of luck (crosswords, good books etc)


Sorry you have had to join us - and sorry that your initial dx did not show everything and now you are facing a bigger op than you thought.

Hope all goes well and you are soon back home recovering.

Takes time to get your head round the dx and all that goes with it.

Hi dotchas

It is a lot to get your head rounnd, but try to go into hosp with an open mind and not too much worry, as we all react to the surgery in different ways and you may be one of the lucky ones who sail through it without physical problems.

I agree with curtainqueen in that I too enjoyed being pampered and looked after (a cup of tea at 4am can’t be bad!) Visitors can definitely be a problem though, especially in the first couple of days as in my case, all I wanted to do was sit quietly or sleep. I even sent my OH home after 30mins.

You’ve had a scarey time, having accepted the first diagnosis then having it changed so no wonder it’s hit you hard, but at least they’ve found out before your op, so you won’t have to go through a second op as some people do.

I hope everything goes well for you

love and hugs

I know what you mean, I also obsessed about washing hair, showering etc. I hated the thought of having greasy hair on top of everything else! I was surprised how mobile I was day after op and managed to wash my hair over a bath with shower hose. It was a bit of a balancing act but I managed. The nurses just said to be careful not get the bandaged area wet. The nurse also said that someone would help me if I wanted it. I found wet wipes and hand wash gel to be great for helping you to feel fresh. Good luck, I was petrified before my op but ended feeling surprisingly calm. When I arrived at hospital there were several other ladies having same op as me and we really helped each other through it.
S x

Hi Dot

I also managed to wash my hair over the bath and wash pretty soon after I got up. As Sherbert says - the lovely nurses will help if you need it so don’t be afraid to ask, they are like Angels. They will probably help with your first wash. Small travel stuff is ideal to take in with you - makes it feel a little bit more pampering when you pack it - oddly.

Yes you can ask what I had and how it looks - had back flap thingy and immediate recon and it looks fab!! Still a little bruised and stiff but getting there. By woozy I mean a bit disconnected or spaced and dopey but that is normal as I understand it. Everyone is different but no matter how it all feels, you will be able to get up and you will be able to move around - it wont all fall apart. So trust your body and get yourself up.

The other thing that you might want is trashy mags - I went for the ‘Celebs in Crisis’ ones rather than OK and Hello where everyone looks too bloody happy (they’re all getting divorced or having affairs anyway and who would want to wake up with Wayne Rooney??***!). You have to laugh :slight_smile: keep on trucking hon - you can do it.

lots of big love
Ruthus xxxxxxxx

Thanks everyone for the tips.
My hair is greasy too and I wash it every day.It just makes you feel worse if your hairs a mess.
I keep thinking its stupid to worry about washing etc but its nice to know others feel the same.I am worried about the operation too,maybe the worrying about minor things is some sort of distraction mechanism! I wish they would phone and say come in now and we’ll do it today! The days leading up to next Wednesday will be tough.I have come down with a cold so desperately need to get rid of that!

I can do spaced and dopey,people pay loads of money for that and we get it free.

At least I still have my sense of humour,I wasn’t sure if I had lost it yesterday but I suppose I am in shock.This cold doesn’t help as I feel s**t anyway.

I am going to pack my bag today with lots of little pampering treats,hand cream body lotion,perfume etc. Might pop out for new slippers as I don’t wear them much and the last pair I had were for when I had an operation on my foot in November.I was in plaster for 9 weeks so one slipper is a lot more worn than the other! LOL!
Oh and some trashy mags ,I like Bella etc ,I hate Hello etc.
As for waking up with Wayne Rooney…no thanks!
Oh just thought of something else Lipsalve!

I’ll try and enjoy the pampering,hope they make better tea than the last hospital I was in .It was so strong I swear the spoon would have stood up!

Will try to limit visitors for the first couple of days but as I work in the same hospital I am sure some of my colleagues will be popping in ,but they won’t stay long hopefully.I can always get them to fetch me things from the shop.

Laughing at your bowels! I had a kidney stone about 5 years ago and was in hospital on morphine for a few days,I got constipated and they gave me something .Then I got discharged and only got home just in time to spend the night on the loo.Great timing on their behalf.

I am also laughing at the big pants tips,I am OK there,thats the only sort I have!

So glad you are pleased with the results,I got to see pictures but I am aware they will show you the best ones! The pics I saw were very good. I worked in Mammography for a while over 10 years ago so have seen a few in the flesh so to speak.Some better than others. Mind you my (ex-)colleagues in Mammography have told my Surgeon he better look after me or else.He is well respected and they all said they would chose him if they needed a breast surgeon.He has a lovely compassionate manner (nothing like my Orthopaedic surg)

I will so miss my laptop and ebay for a whole week!

Thanks and hugs to all



Hospital staff will help whilst you are in ther, but personal hygiene can be an issue straight after op, at home. I found using baby wipes to clean myself helped, and much less messy than soap & water, and it can easily be done 2 or 3 times a day. I also discovered a deoderant trick …roll on. If you lift your arm you can see exactly where you are applying it and avoid the scar site, where you aren’t allowed to get it. Also, I got dry shampoo - my hair WAS like yours - greasy, but the dry shampoo helped a lot. When I did wash my hair I did it under the bath taps - cold, but effective!

All the best to you
Sue xx