My Cancer: Pre-Surgery To Do List

When I went for my first doctor’s appointment when I was diagnosed to discuss the cancer and options, I was given a Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook – literally like a textbook. I am so thankful that they gave me this. it has been invaluable whenever I didn’t understand something or had a question. I had my doctor’s cell number, but this book kept me from googling too much or calling her way too much. Although, I don’t think she would have minded, she is awesome! I’ll post the next “My Cancer” post in the next day or two.

3 weeks – 1 month Before 

Start growing out your armpit hair. You’ll want to wax it right before your surgery. Trust me, just do it!

See a psychologist or talked with a close friend – be honest and don’t be afraid to talk about your diagnosis and surgery. It’s normal to have the feelings that you do and it will help to talk about it to someone.

Exercise – for mental health and to prepare your chest and abs.

 1-2 weeks before

Ponytail tutorial, start having your husband practice NOW! What a nightmare that was for me.

Limit salt intake to help with bloating and constipation from anesthesia.

Prepare meals and freeze or if someone offers start a meal train for at least 4-5 weeks – here are a couple of great sites for a meal train: here and here.

Start buying things you need for post-surgery at home (in next post!)

Buy a few shirts that button on the front and at least one size bigger if you don’t already have any.

Make a few blowout appointments with your hair stylist. I did my first one 5 days after surgery and it was wonderful!! Worth the investment.

A few days before surgery

Get your armpits waxed – just do it I promise you will thank me later.

Get a pedicure – no nail polish on your fingernails though.

Stock up on books, music, and Netflix shows for hospital and at home.

Finalize everything you need post surgery.

Buy a Mastectomy Tank Top (Your insurance will cover it – you can probably get one at the Women’s Center in the hospital, or another hospital close by)- not too tight, arm straps snap off to put on and it zips up the front also holds your drains.

Have prescriptions filled beforehand so they are ready at home – also stock up on Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Colace, and Natural Calm. If you are prone to anxiety, discuss with you doctor. I am and Xanax helped tremendously. I also started taking taking Colace 3 days before surgery and continued post surgery, 2x a day in addition I also took Natural Calm 2x a day and it drastically helped with constipation. Also, if your prone to nausea you may want to ask for something for that too.

Take pictures, I’m glad I did. It’s a hard transition.

Day of Surgery Checklist of things you may need when you are in the hospital:

Wake up early, shower and do your hair. It will be a few days before you can do this again.

Bring your Mastectomy Tank – if no tank, then something else to hold your drains – an apron like this or a top with inside pockets. I had a robe where I could pull the pockets inside out and slip the drains in there. I also wrapped an ace bandage around my chest and used safety pins to pins them to the bandage – it works but is annoying.

Clothing in addition to mastectomy tank: Something to wear home from the hospital that can be buttoned up the front and at least a size bigger and a change of underwear or two. Slippers with non-slip bottoms and a comfy robe is nice, hospitals are cold! I had these slippers, this robe, and this top.

Cough pillow / seatbelt pillow – here are a few options: here, here, here.

2 heart shaped pillows to put under your arms – here.

Laptop or iPad, Kindle, Phone and charger

Cup with bendable straw, snacks, beverages that you like

Your own pillow, eye mask, ear plugs and/or noise machine – hospitals are noisy and these helped me sleep better.

Natural Calm and Colace

Lip Balm and Throat Lozenges – I had no problem with a sore throat after surgery, but many people have said that they did, have them just in case.

Journal with pen to track meds, drains, etc. – don’t forget this!

Anti-itch lotion – my meds made me so itchy! This is the one I used – Sarna

Wet brush, hair holders that are easy to use – here are a few good ones… here, here, here!

Here are a few other websites that I referred to when making my own list and when writing this post: here, here, here, and here.

Next post: What you need and what to expect when you come home, post-sruegry for 4-6 weeks or more depending on your surgery.


One thought on “My Cancer: Pre-Surgery To Do List

  1. This is probably reason #26 God allowed you to go through this…I can picture someone finding this and hitting the jackpot of information that you likely can’t find in that textbook! Love you and love reading your story!! Xo


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