Even nearly 4 years of research cannot fully prepare a person for a surgery like a mastectomy. As many lists as I read and experiences I pored through, each person's needs and experiences are unique. But it can't hurt to share them either. Maybe what I did right or what I missed will help someone else.
Lists I read:
FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
Thanks for the Mammarys
Prairie Wife in Heels
Nope to BC
Mentally, I did pretty well.
- Set my plan (see previous blog post)
- Be open with my husband, kids, friends about what I wanted and what I needed
- Reach out to the people caring for my kids so they would not be taken by surprise
- I actually presented a Bright Pink Brighten Up to my oldest daughter's elementary school. They were amazing in their reception of me and I was able to prepare them for any questions she might have. I highly recommend reaching out to BP and bringing in an Education Ambassador if your child's school is open to it.
- Planned my Bye Bye Boobs party, complete with ridiculously amazing t-shirts and even more amazing friends
- Pre-surgical mental health vacation to Disney World
Physically, I did ok.
- I breastfed my last baby for 6 months, stopping approximately 6 months before my surgery. I ended up going for my annual MRI 4 weeks after I weaned and had a biopsy
- Joined ilovekickboxing.com and upped my game in the months prior to surgery. I'm now jealous I won't be back there for a bit.
- Chopped off all my hair. This isn't necessary, but it helped mentally (donating to women who don't get the choice I had) and I did not have to rely on my loving husband to do my hair.
- I also had to have a preop workup. Passed everything with flying colors other than the mammo. ::sigh:: I ended up getting a repeat mammo (from a high school friend -- thanks for not making that weird, Jen!!), further affirming the choice I was making. I was in Disney World when I found out the benign results.
The Tools were mostly covered.
- The BFFL bra (given to me by the hospital and my surgeons) -- many women will tell you awesome things like Drain Dollies or drain holders are a necessity, but knowing my surgeons gave me this option made those unnecessary for me.
- The BFFL bag: This has come in handy so many random times over the past few weeks, but the heart pillows in it were invaluable for the first few.
- Button-down pajamas
- Softest zip-up hoodie everrrr
- Easy-to-put-on pants: This isn't something I thought about until close to my surgery. I live in yoga pants and skinny jeans, which would have been too hard to put on. These pants and my old-school Juicy terry cloth pants were lifesavers.
- Button-down shirts for leaving the house/hotel
- A recliner: We moved mine from the baby's nursery into our room and it was by far the most comfortable place for me to sleep once we got home. A month out, I'm still sleeping slightly elevated, but the recliner moved back in with the baby.
- Food: If you don't have an amazing village like me, make some freezer meals or slow cooker packets so you don't have to think or work your first few weeks home. I cried on a Disney bus when my friends texted me and said I wouldn't need to cook for at least 2 weeks. Cause I suck and totally did NOT prepare ;)
- Slippers. I had these and these
I made a wish list on Amazon so you can check out some of the products and add them to your own list: http://a.co/6LenyxR
Best of luck to everyone who comes after me. I hope this list helps you find a bit of comfort before/during/after your surgical journey.