Thursday 22 August 2019

My Breast Cancer Journey - Getting prepared for a mastectomy

Its been just over a week since my single mastectomy and my next post will document just that, I wrote part of this post before I went into hospital, I have been finding it really difficult to write exactly what I have been thinking and feeling because its been awash with thoughts of cancer and as you can imagine or know it has been a really stressful time.

How exactly do you prepare for a mastectomy? I don't think as a woman you ever quite will be prepared for this sort of surgery its not only the physical appearance you have to think about its emotionally painful when I think about it, honestly I would rather lose a hand, I know its only appearance but in this day and age, appearance, not just to me, although it shouldn't matter for most of us it really does matter. In the twenty-first century, though there are a lot of bands around now that make really beautiful feminine underwear, the breast prosthesis you can get are actually really stunning and lifelike and the reconstructive surgery, its truly amazing what the surgeons can achieve.

However, despite all of this and the fact that mastectomies are becoming more and more common this sort of surgery should not be downplayed.

I have to say I was so stressed the night before the operation, I found it difficult to think I found my mind was working in overdrive trying to imagine just what I was going to look like and of course I'm only human I imagined I would look like a monster I thought it would be horrifically ugly. After the surgery, I was pleasantly surprised it actually doesn't look that bad and the surgery was nowhere near as bad as I thought honestly try not to overthink things, I know its easier said than done.

I thought rather than me going on I would give you my top tips on preparing for a mastectomy, of course, there may be things I have missed but hopefully, this will help others that are going through the same thing or that are in a similar situation to myself.

Preparing for a Mastectomy 

  1. Communication, Obviously, your body image is going to be drastically altered, so open communication is an absolute must. Communicate your true feelings, hopes and fears to your partner if you have one or a friend, a relative whoever you are close too, but first, admit them to yourself. Consider keeping a diary or just writing down all your feeling where you can really let it all out. 
  2. Grieve, like anything we lose or are about to loose we grieve its normal to be sad/angry if you need to cry, cry, scream and shout just let it all out and if this isn't enough do it again. After all, this is a huge deal.
  3. Clean your house, sounds ridiculous but after a mastectomy, you are not actually going to know how long you are going to be feeling poorly for and your not supposed to do anything too strenuous for at least four weeks at least if the house has been cleaned from top to bottom before you go into hospital it will hopefully stay relatively clean - I also cleaned mine because I have been stressed and generally tend to clean more when I'm worried about things.
  4. Stock up, I made sure I had got plenty of food in the cupboards to eat if you like batch cooking you could also do this and freeze meals so it makes like just that little bit easier. I also did a shop online before I went into hospital, for later on in the week so I knew I hadn't got to worry about doing another shop and I knew we wouldn't run out of food.
  5. Buy some bigger clothes, this is one of my top tips I made sure I went into the hospital with a shirt on that was purposely too big. After surgery your not going to be able to lift your arm up in the air so it is ideal to have shirts, I also bought PJs that were front buttoning they are also two sizes too big, you really don't want them to be too small or tight as your going to be pretty sore for a while. 
  6. Take time to think, think about your reconstruction I went with the consultant's advice and I am having a delayed reconstruction later after treatment but there are so many different reconstruction options these days and there fabulous but obviously all come with there own risks, do your research and make an informed choice.
  7. Seek out support, there are loads of Breast cancer charities now that offer free helplines if you have a burning question or you just need to chat to someone that has been through the same thing don't be afraid to utilise these services they're all there to help.
  8. Take a photo of your breasts, I take photos of everything on a daily basis but this is something I didn't do, I really wish I had it will help with the grieving process and on a practical note it might help with the reconstruction, matching up you breasts and also if you wanted to have a nipple tattoo, later on, it could help with matching up the colours.
  9. Be prepared for drains, I was lucky I didn't have a drain in after my surgery but many mastectomy patients do, you can buy post-surgical dressing gowns and pyjamas from the likes of Marks & Spencers and Asda they have bigger pockets so you have somewhere to put your drain or you could take a small shopping tote bag it would do the job just as well.
  10. Pillows, sleeping isn't the easiest when you have just been diagnosed with cancer but after a major operation, it can be even more difficult, make sure you have plenty of pillows to get yourself comfortable id also try and identify somewhere else you could potentially sleep just in case the bed is too uncomfortable.

My last bit of advice is to take each day as it comes and deal with the now, be kind to yourself remember you got, this keep smiling. 


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