"Hi Jenny it's Sally*"
"Hi! How are you?!"
"I've been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I have questions, do you have a minute?"
"I'm so sorry. Yes, of course, I have all the time in the world."
Sally is a good friend, loyal wife, mother to a two year old girl and a 3 week old son. Yes, you read that right, a 3 week old son. She's 37 years old, and very healthy. To say this call brought me intense sadness is an understatement. But I know that she is strong enough to fight her way through this, and although I was sad to hear her news, I was happy to be able to answer questions and help in any way I could. In case you are out on the internet looking for answers for a friend, family member, or yourself - here are my tips for breast cancer surgery.
First and foremost, the week of surgery take time to take long showers - get some really nice soap and shampoo and wash up and remember it all, enjoy it. You wont be able to lift your arms up comfortably to wash your hair for awhile without pain, trust me on this one.
While your in there shave well. Shaving is not allowed until everything is 100% healed. Nuff said.
Go out and get yourself some Avon Skin So Soft - liquid, not lotion. One of the most painful things for me was getting the surgery bandages off of my swollen breasts. I found out much later if you soak the bandage with the Skin So Soft it comes off with no pain. (And it's in an easy spray bottle!)
A few days before surgery typically the hospital will call you and ask you about 15 minutes of questions. Be ready for this. Have a list of all medications you are on, all pills and dosages you take - even vitamins. And any procedures or surgeries you've had. If they tell you to not take something you think you should, contact your doctor after the call and ask. You are responsible here, follow your instincts.
Go out and purchase tops that are loose, soft, and open in the front. You can't pull tops over your head - they need to button up or zip up.
Make sure you have some ice packs and go ahead and put them in your freezer.
The day of surgery wear something you can get into with little fuss. I was in so much pain Brad had to dress me. Make it easy for them to help.
And this is a given, but take your meds. Take the pain pills. Keep taking the pain pills.
And then the second call/text, yesterday a text from her friends:
"What can we send Sally? Are flowers OK?"
So of course I have suggestions here too. I love flowers, but I don't need 5 arrangements, and flowers are typically sent by the office, if the person works outside of the home. So if you think someone else is probably going to send flowers then skip it.
Cookiegram - a bouquet of cookies - really really good cookies
Fruit bouquet - if they are healthier and wouldn't eat the cookies, the fruit is delicious and still a wonderful display of cheer
Pajamagram - my sister sent me this, and I loved it. Remember to get the kind that opens in the front! There are even breast cancer PJ's with the word Hope on them.
Movies or DVDs - my girlfriends from work sent me 3 DVDs of Kenny Chesney :0)
And just offer to help. I didn't let people help me. But a few friends made me let them. They just showed up and wouldn't leave. LOL. But the laughter they brought me those few days after surgery were just what the doctor ordered, and helped me more then anything else.
Except maybe the cookies....mmmmm....they were good! :0)
*Sally's name has been changed to protect her private information.