Samipip - what a lovely friend you are.
I had a mastectomy and complete node removal last September and here are a few ideas; lip balm, epsom salts, E45 moisturiser, wet wipes, tissues and herbal teabags (peppermint and anything for bedtime too) - I enjoyed my sudoko books and magazines. Boiled sweets/mints are good too!
Good luck for your friends impending operation and good wishes to you too. J x
I agree with other comments, how lovely of you to come on here to get advice to put together a care package. Your friend will really appreciate that. Others have given great advice so I'll just add a few thoughts of my own.
Others are right about not being able to concentrate - I found easy watching DVDs great or magazines perfect, nothing heavy. I was given a lovely fleece blanket, it's not too thick so perfect for sitting on the sofa recovering. Some fluffy socks? Some nice chocolates/treats always help recovery. You could take over some meals to her when she comes out, maybe put something in the freezer for her.
The most valuable gift is your time - keeping her company when she wants it, or offering to run errands/do shopping/housework as she won't be able to drive or do much for a while.
Wishing your friend all the best for her op and recovery. I too had both mastectomy and node clearance so happy to answer any questions you might have.
My suggestion is to try and cover the senses : smell, touch, sound, taste, sight. In order for her to recover your friend will probably be resting quite a lot and yet her senses can be stimulated.
My favourites were the taste of jelly beans and the smell of daffodils, the feel of cotton against my skin and since I had to be indoors quite a lot I went onto YouTube and listened to birds singing.
Lovely that your friend has you.
I had a mastectomy in March but only stayed in hospital over night, I took a favourite magazine in with me but could not concentrate, the best thing I had in hospital was a phone to chat to friends, and wet wipes as I found the ward so hot. At home I found a small cushion about 10" across the best thing, I used it to protect the wound from seat belt when I was taken to appointments, when sitting if placed under the effected arm side it some how supported and was more comfortable than not having the cushion, I also used it when I went for short walks under the arm to stop any rubbing, Hope this helps, just being about to listen is possibly the most important.
sending best wishes H