Getting It Together For Your Mastectomy

After I was told that my biopsies came back positive for breast cancer, my first question was, “what do I do next?” My doctor showed me a list of the doctors I had to choose from that were part of the group that supports the Ross Breast Center in fighting breast cancer. He told me that every Monday morning they discussed all the new cases. Of which, I was the hot topic the morning before. I knew one of the Plastic Surgeons on the list and would be letting him pick the rest of my team of doctors.

He also gave me two different names…one was my case worker with the Ross Breast Center and the other was my insurance case worker. They would be coordinating all of my appointments with doctors and tests needed before surgery.

I did do some roadwork of my own. Being as I might have chemo or hormone blockers or hormone suppressants, I needed to get with my General Practitioner to see if we needed to add anything because all could change my Osteopenia to Osteoporosis. Dr Grace add Alendronate to my daily regiment to protect my bones.

My best advice for all you ladies…expect the unexpected. Prepare for the worst, but pray for the best. Purchase a composition book. Carry it and a pen to every doctor’s appointment you go to. Or you can also bring a hand held tape recorder. Some things could throw you into a state of confusion. Plus it is really hard to digest everything they will throw at you. Your mind will be in overdrive mode. If the doctor says something you don’t understand, stop them and ask them to repeat it.

Leading up to my Mastectomy, I frantically searched the internet for packing lists and the best mastectomy recovery items to buy. The doctors and nurses were able to provide expert medical advise, but, they were not able to give me the first hand insight I was looking for. Now, having gone through the mastectomy surgery, I have a much better idea of which items were essential, and made my experience much more bearable.

2-4 Weeks Before Surgery

Talk to other survivors and read their insight to sense for the for the emotional aspect of the surgery. I joined a couple of Facebook pages…it really helped me out a lot.

Deep clean your home and look into securing cleaning services for after your surgery for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

Set up a Meal Trainor other system to have food brought to you during your recovery. You won’t be able to cook or clean after your mastectomy for 4 to 6 weeks.

Purchase recovery specific items

Axilla-pilla — This pillow is amazing and the perfect size to position under your armpits for support and comfort. I was given a set by a friend.

Sleep will be difficult during recovery. Get a body pillow which can provide relief  so you can rest in comfort.

Wedge Pillow…for laying at an angle.

Microbean Pillow– this worked perfectly under my neck to prop me up. I have brought it to my mastectomy and every reconstruction surgery.

A good recliner (if you have the means). I made the purchase to be able to sleep at the perfect angle without sliding down flat. It also kept me from waking my hubby with my alarm every 4 hours for meds.

I was frustrated by the hassle of drains during recovery, Kelly Bee Designs makes super soft sweatshirts with pockets specifically for mastectomy patients.

drain management belt

Pink Pockets are stickable pockets that can be applied to any item of clothing. I used these inside my super soft, button down pajamas.

Recovery robe have built in pockets

I also suggest getting a few lanyards to hold the drains while showering

The drains will add extra bulk so stock up on baggy button down tops that can hide the drains will be soft on your skin. I went 1-2 sizes up in the tops I purchased.

Pants with zippers could be difficult to get off and on so go for loose-fitted slip-on pants or skirts

Seat belts will dig into your chest, so I used a travel pillow to put between me and the seat belt.

1-2 Days Before Surgery

Prepare a stock of healthy meals and snacks to have available following your surgery

Pack your surgery bag with all the helpful items noted in the packing lists below.

Get a massage – You won’t be able to lay on your stomach for a while and this is a great way to release all that pre-surgery anxiety

Shave or get waxed…it’s going to be a couple of weeks before you will be able to do it again.

Take pictures of your breast…you will need them during your grieving process. Plus it helps with reconstruction and matching the color in nipple tattooing if you chose that later on.

Rearrange your kitchen/bedroom to make straws, plates, and necessities easily accessible without much lifting or twisting

Workout –  your exercise routine will be restricted for a while (I walked) and the sweat and endorphins will really help you relax.

Mastectomy pack list

Microbead tube pillow

Seatbelt cover

Chapstick for dry lips

Comfortable button up PJs and Robe

Cozy socks/Slippers


Headbands or scarves – these helpful in disguising dirty, sweaty hair when you can’t shower

Hairbrush – My husband brushed my hair and helped keep me from looking a hot mess.

Slip-On Shoes – You won’t want to worry about sneakers or shoes with laces when you are leaving the hospital. Bring something that is easier to slip on.

Face wipes

Toothbrush and toothpaste!

Water bottle or large tumbler for water. The hospital cups are SO small.

Book – I enjoyed having my Kindle

Music (I played the music saved on my phone) to help me relax/sleep.

Don’t forget about your spouse/caretaker when packing. Some hospitals will have a the room where your spouse/caretaker can stay. This was wonderful for me and very comforting to have my husband by my side during this traumatic time.

Cash for vending machines/food.

Pillow/blanket from home

Change of clothes



Phone chargers/Computer/Book

Composition book for tracking recovery vitals and details for doctors

Prescription Medications

Contact information for family and friends you want to provide with updates

Large bag for carrying caregiver and patient items I know that everyone of you women prayed not to be “one of them”, you know…the one in eight women that is diagnosed with breast cancer.

After my needle biopsy and being told I was the 1 in 8, I realized that our Lord and Savior was by my side and using me as a tool to inform others. He wanted me to write and share my journey showing others that life goes in even after diagnosis. This blog would be the tool that helped me move forward and help others at the same time.

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