Before having a mastectomy, you will have the opportunity to discuss the operation with a specialist breast care nurse or surgeon. You can discuss how the procedure might affect you physically and emotionally.
You’ll get practical advice about bras and prostheses (breast forms), if you need them.
Your surgeon will discuss the type of mastectomy you’ll have, the possible complications and the option of breast reconstruction. You may need to have chemotherapy or hormone therapy before the operation to reduce the size of any tumours.
Before leaving hospital, you’ll have the opportunity to be fitted with a lightweight, temporary prosthesis known as a ‘softie’ to wear inside your bra. You’ll usually be fitted with a longer-term prosthesis and given advice on bra fitting 6 to 8 weeks after the operation. Some breast care units will provide you with a bra to wear after your surgery, or suggest one for you to buy. If you would prefer to take in your own bra you might want to think about arranging a fitting for a wire free, supportive and comfortable front fastening bra.
It is important to take a well-fitting bra to your prosthesis fitting at the hospital so the fitter can see how the prosthesis will sit in your bra. NHS patients do not have to pay for their prosthesis. However, not all prostheses styles are available on the NHS. If you are a private patient you will need to check if your private health care scheme covers the cost of your prosthesis. Bournemouth BraLady is able to provide prostheses, including swim prostheses, at cost price, to women who need them.
Other things you might want to pack in your hospital bag to make you feel more in control and comfortable are:
- Your own 100% cotton prostheses. Knitted Knockers is a UK based charity that knit and crochet 100% cotton breast prostheses for women that have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy.Knitted Knockers are lightweight, take the form of a real breast, soft against the skin and breathable and provided FREE of charge to those ladies who need it. https://www.kkukciowix.com/
- Drain Dollies Surgical Drain Bags. make recovery simple. They provide a safe and secure place to store your drains, allowing you to leave the house and carry out day to day activities. https://www.draindollies.co.uk/
- V Pillows. Many women find these useful when sitting in a chair or in bed as they take the pressure away from your drain sites and can help to make you feel comfortable. Jen’s Friends – Free Mastectomy Pillows are designed to provide comfort and protection after a mastectomy operation. https://www.facebook.com/Jensfriendsmastectomypillow/
- Macmillan Cancer Support’s Worried Sick report (2006) found that more than 45% of patients with cancer found the emotional effects of the disease more difficult to deal with than the physical or practical effects. You may want to explore popular relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness. Some people with cancer use hypnotherapy to help them relax and cope with symptoms and treatment. If you have an MP3 player or a smartphone you can download relaxation podcasts from the internet. Relaxation CDs and tapes may be available from your local library.
- Loose fitting, cotton pyjamas (front fastening with buttons), an eye mask – if you can, treat yourself to a calming and relaxing Space Mask. https://www.spacemasks.com And… don’t forget the ear plugs so you can block out hospital noise and get some proper rest.
Bournemouth BraLady offers a professional home bra fitting for women living in and around the Bournemouth area, specialising in post surgery and mastectomy bras. Hospital visits by arrangement. Appointments are also available on Tuesdays at the Going for Bust Support Centre in Wimborne, Dorset and on Thursdays at the Wessex Cancer Trust Cancer Support Centre in Bournemouth.