SURVIVOR TIPS for SURGERIES & TREATMENTS

We’ve compiled a list of tips from Survivors to help you navigate surgeries and treatments. If you have any additional tips that you would like us to consider adding, please send them to contact@breastconnect.org.

HELPFUL HINTS WHILE YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL:

 

  • Items that will help you feel clean without shower, such as baby wipes, dry shampoo, and hand sanitizer
  • Make sure you designate a point person to update family and friends, create a text or email list
  • A long (10ft) charger for your phone or an extension cord
  • Pajamas or nightgown that button down the front (after surgery, you won’t be able to lift your hands over your head for a while)
  • Throat lozenges as you might have a sore throat from being intubated during surgery
  • Socks
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Slip-on shoes so you don’t have to bend over to tie laces
  • Small pillow to keep seat belt from binding on the way home

 

HELPFUL HINTS FOR WHEN YOU ARE HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL:

 

  • If you’ve had a mastectomy, move your arms as much as possible as soon as your doctor allows, this is important to eliminate scar tissue buildup
  • Stay ahead of the pain using all of the medication as prescribed, this will help your healing process
  • Accept all offers of help, this is not the time for you to overdo it – let others do for you
  • Use a 30% incline pillow / wedge or tv pillow if you will be sleeping in your own bed – some people choose to sleep in a recliner as you will not be able to lay flat for a period of time
  • Small pillows for under your arms can be very useful
  • Safety pins to pin the drain tubes inside your clothing / to your surgical binder – ask your inpatient nurse for these, they have plenty and you only need four of them
  • Shirts that button in front
  • If you have a tall bed, get a step stool as you will be too sore to try to use your arms to pull yourself into bed, you will learn to scoot around to get situated
  • Something to hold your drain tubes when showering, i.e., a lanyard, a shower belt, a fanny pack or a contractor’s belt
  • If the hospital didn’t give you a stool softener, you might want to get an over the counter one, the pain medications are hard on your system
  • Bandages, some surgeons recommend that buying the thick maxi pads, they are the perfect size of the wound and since they are thicker they protect a little more
  • If someone can stay home with you during the first several days after surgery that will be awesome. You will need help cleaning wounds and putting the bandages back on. Then there are just the little things that you won’t be able to reach for or do at first because you are weaker and can’t lift your hands above your head. This will pass, but you will need the support for at least a week.
  • A back scratcher, the surgical binder is itchy
  • A shower chair or you can use a cooler and sit on that in the shower
  • A handheld shower head is helpful
  • Be prepared with pre-made meals, healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, and yogurt
  • Have plates and dishes in an easy-to-reach place
  • Place tissues, magazines, pillows, remote, etc in a convenient area – place clothing in your bedroom where it is easily acceptable
  • Put bulk items in smaller, easier to lift containers – such as laundry detergent or dog food

​Most importantly, work with your medical team to prepare before and after surgery.

CANCER TREATMENT SUGGESTIONS: 

 

GENERAL

 

  • Dietary
  • Immunity
    • Essential oils – 5 drops each of frankincense, lemon, thieves, and purification in roller bottle, fill rest with neutral oil. Rub on soles of feet 2x/day
    • Immunity pills (mushrooms) to take during chemo and in between chemo treatments (please consult with physician):

 

CHEMOTHERAPY

 

  • Neuropathy can be quite common during chemo, survivors have recommended the following: ice on hands and feet during infusion, and shake your hands around as much as possible
  • Claritin can be very helpful in reducing bone pain, specifically if receiving the Neulasta shot – consult with your doctor on the use of Claritin
  • To help avoid metallic taste, use plasticware and suck on mints or hard candies during chemo and other times
  • Peppermint essential oil can rubbed on stomach can help ease nausea
  • Aloe water can keep things flowing – dried & stewed fruits as well as increasing fiber in your diet can help with constipation
  • Drink lots of water, stay hydrated – decaffeinated tea & coffee, juice, and milk are all good choices
  • Moving is important, even if just a 10-minute walk – this can help move the chemo toxins out of your system
  • Rest, don’t push yourself too hard
  • Eat whenever you can
  • Get your prescriptions before treatment starts
  • Stay ahead of the nausea – fresh air, popsicles, mints, gum, peppermint tea, and ginger may help
  • Dry mouth and mouth sores can occur, keep lip balm and vaseline on hand and use Magic Mouthwash for sores
  • Prepare for hair loss, this usually starts 15 days after first treatment – consider cutting hair short or shaving head once hair loss begins
  • Try hats, scarfs, or turbans and get them prior to chemo so that you are prepared

 

RADIATION

 

  • Rub area with aloe immediately after radiation and at bed
    • Fresh aloe from a plant works best, but can buy pure aloe – avoid aloe with additives, like alcohol
  • Rub on Aquaphor 2 times day
    • Wearing an old t-shirt is a good idea, or wearing a tank top under other shirts is a good idea, due to the greasiness of the lotion over tank top under nice shirts
  • Keep drinking water and moving
  • Should extreme itchiness, redness, or burning appear – consult your doctor immediately

Testimonials