Frequently Asked Questions
(Answered by Linda Fisher, Breast Cancer Survivor, and Founder of Wings of Angels)
- Have someone help the patient investigate options... Oncolgoists; Oncologic Surgeons; Cancer Treatment Centers; Boutiques for Wigs; Plastic Surgeons; Nutritionists; Holistic Treatment Options and Providers; Therapists; Support Groups, etc.
- Help the patient sort through, print and organize the endless information available online and from his or her providers.
- Help organize family and friends to assist with needs from shopping, cleaning and cooking, to transportation to and from appointments, and keeping the patient company during recovery from various procedures and treatments.
- Have someone accompany the patient to doctor appointments, who can also sit in on the visit to take notes, or bring a recording device for the patient to use if privacy is requested.
- Stay in touch. Call. Send lots of cards. For me, calls and cards always seemed to arrive when I needed them most.
- Send or bring funny movies, and ask if they would like you to stay with them.
- Help the patient plan a getaway, for a day-trip to a weekend or more, depending on the phase of treatment and recovery the patient is in, and how well the patient is feeling.
- Be that someone with whom the patient can discuss anything, including all treatment options, concerns, fears, etc. If you don't know what to say, know that LISTENING is just as important.
- Help the patient to find humor and laugh. It's true what they say about the healing qualities of laughter. For more information on laughter as a therapeutic tool, have a look at the following link from Cancer Treatment Centers of America:
Not at this time. However, we are working on providing the ability for you to purchase single items contained in our care package Gift Baskets.
The American Cancer Society website and Susan Komen for the Cure Websites both offer exceptional information on the self-exam. Though these sites offer great information, be sure to confirm with your provider about how to do the exam properly and at what intervals, etc.
What can I expect Post-Operatively?
From my surgery experience I know that many details can be overlooked. When I was released from the hospital there wasn't any information given to me about post-op awareness. So, it is my pleasure to share with you below, just a few of the things that I learned, and things that were beneficial to me during my recovery time at home.
With so many muscles being cut in surgery, adjusting and lifting my torso out of a bed was excruciating in the beginning. So, a recliner was invaluable. It's no wonder so many hospital rooms have recliner type chairs next to the bed. Try to have one at home, as well!
In bed, positioning pillows (lots of them) allows you to sleep propped up. Even so, getting out of bed was an experience I wish I could have saved myself from. I was grateful to have my husband there to assist me. Be sure to have someone there to assist you.
Have a small table at your bedside and chair side to hold the items that you think you will need throughout the day and night. Remember, convenience is everything! Consider setting up these areas prior to surgery.
About 2 A.M. on my second night home, my chest muscles cramped to the point that I thought of going to the emergency room. I was unaware of this possible reaction after surgery. I then found out from a nurse friend who had also been through this surgery that a heating pad can help by relaxing the muscles. For me, the heating pad was invaluable. My surgeon allowed me to apply heat to the chest area day and night.
If you are thinking of using a hot water bottle instead of a heating pad, you should wrap a soft cloth around it, as you can't control the heat like you can with a heating pad. This area is very sensitive; meaning right now you have areas with no feeling at all! Have your caregiver prepare the hot water bottle to avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles. Do a test on a sensitive area on the body before placing it over the sore muscle areas to avoid burns.
You should discuss the use of heat or other methods of relaxation post-operatively with your surgeon beforehand to have a better understanding of what to expect, and how he or she suggests you handle it.
Think about your hair before you go in for surgery! My hair was long and I knew that I would be unable to brush or wash it for awhile, so I decided on French braids to solve the problem. Just remember, whatever you decide, you cannot shower until your doctor says you are able. It could be a few days.
Here comes the part you don't want to think about, but you need to - losing your hair. One tip that I can give you is to contact your insurance company BEFOREHAND, and explain to them that you are going to have chemo therapy, and may need a "Cranial Prosthesis." Yes, you read that correctly. They don't generally cover it using the term "Wig," but they do cover "Cranial Prostheses." ........... When you order your "Cranial Prosthesis," make sure to give yourself four weeks before you have chemo to insure that it will be available for you. Again the key here is to plan ahead; my "Cranial Prosthesis" was three weeks late..............
You should have clothing that will be easy to put on and take off. Remember, these muscles will be sore and your range of motion will be limited for a time, so the less you have to use them the better. A button-down shirt makes it possible to dress without lifting your arms. Some hospitals provide a camisole that has velcro down the front and pockets for your drainage tubes.
This Camisole was created specifically for those who have experienced a mastectomy or lumpectomy. A unique hospital-to-home post-surgical solution with the following advantages:
- Front opening with Velcro closure
- Easy dressing - no need to raise your arms over your head
- Interior pockets accommodate temporary breast forms (included)
- Can be worn to post-op doctor visits as well as radiation treatments
- Left and right interior pockets hold up to 4 post-surgical drainage bulbs
- Soft, comfortable, natural cotton knit fabric
- Made in the USA