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How do you get ready for something that will no doubt forever change your life?
Facing a breast cancer diagnosis or increased risk of developing breast cancer, is daunting enough, but preparing for a mastectomy — the surgical removal of cancerous or potentially threatening growths in the breast — can be downright terrifying. As you begin planning for your surgery, your brain may be flooded with questions like: What will I be able to wear after surgery? Will I be able to sleep? What do I bring to the hospital? How many drains will I have?
While each mastectomy experience is different, one thing that can help you approach the procedure more calmly is feeling prepared. From surgery to recovery, the process can take a little over one month, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why we covered products that will help you across all aspects of the surgery, such as items you’ll need in the hospital and the postsurgical clothing you’ll need.
Here’s our list of must-have products before your mastectomy.
RELATED: What Is a Sensation-Preserving Mastectomy?
Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask
An eye mask should be on your list for recovery from a mastectomy surgery because you’ll most likely sleep at random hours as you spend time recovering in the hospital room. This sleep mask is light, breathable, and adjustable to help shield your eyes from those annoying hospital lights.
Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask, $7.99, Amazon.com
Women’s Comfort Fleece Memory Foam Slippers
Often an underrated necessity, slippers offer great protection from the cold hospital floor. These cozy fleece slippers are easy to put on, and you don't need to bend over to adjust them. Machine-washable and suitable for everyday use around the house, they also come in multiple colors.
Women’s Comfort Fleece Memory Foam Slippers, $20.70, Amazon.com
The Honest Company Baby Wipes
After any surgical procedure, your doctor will have specific recommendations regarding how soon you can shower or bathe. Packing baby wipes for your hospital stay and keeping them on hand during your recovery will be helpful as a way to easily refresh yourself. These Honest Company Baby Wipes are fragrance-free and contain no parabens or phthalates. They are also made of plant-based material and are gentle enough for a baby’s bottom.
The Honest Company Baby Wipes, $6.99, 72 count, Amazon.com
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Hair Dance Volumizing Dry Shampoo
If hair hygiene is a concern, dry shampoo might be important to bring to the hospital when you're preparing for a mastectomy or breast surgery: You won’t be able to wash your own hair for some time because of limited arm movement. Hair Dance is an all-natural, vegan, and eco-friendly dry shampoo that will absorb excess oil and help your hair look freshly washed even if it’s been a few days … er, um weeks.
Hair Dance Volumizing Dry Shampoo, $9.99, Amazon.com
Lemome Eco-Friendly Cork Notebook
Having a journal or notebook close by during your hospital stay and recovery period can be as helpful emotionally as it is medically. A journal or notebook will allow you to track medicine times and drain-fluid amounts, and express how you’re feeling throughout the process. Since this notebook is made from cork bark, it’s stiff enough to use without table support while you’re resting.
Lemome Eco-Cork Notebook, $11.46, Amazon.com
DIEP Flap Surgery Support
Kindred Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown
A DIEP flap is a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels, skin, and fat are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest. Recovering from a DIEP flap surgery can pose challenges because there are two surgery sites — your chest and abdomen. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website, recovery from a natural-tissue flap reconstruction can take four to eight weeks. A hospital gown like the Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown will be helpful for this type of surgery because it may be uncomfortable to wear pants.
Kindred Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown, $39.99, Amazon.com
Billow Heart Pillow
Created by Marnie Rustemeyer after she underwent a prophylactic mastectomy following her positive test for the BRCA gene, Billow pillows are designed to help women find comfort and relief postsurgery. The Billow Heart Pillow is designed to cushion and support the arms and breasts following a mastectomy and lymph node removal. All Billow pillows are available with two fillings, wool for a softer feel and kapok (a plant fiber) for a firmer feel.
Billow Heart Pillow (Kapok), $24, BillowGlobal.com
Travelrest Therapeutic Memory Foam Travel and Neck Pillow
The more pillows you experiment with during recovery, the more likely you’ll find the ones that work for you. A pillow with neck support, like Travelrest’s Therapeutic Memory Foam Neck Pillow, can be helpful if you are unable to sleep lying down in the days following your mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. Travelrest’s pillow is machine washable, and the adjustable drawstring will prevent the pillow from shifting in your sleep.
Travelrest Therapeutic Memory Foam Travel & Neck Pillow, $14.95, Amazon.com
The ParkPuff (Betty Circle)
Protect your chest while you're driving with the ParkPuff, a pillow-like cushion that latches around your seatbelt to provide comfort after surgery. Rachel Park, a breast cancer survivor and fashion entrepreneur, made one for herself during treatment and continues to use it daily.
The ParkPuff comes in six different design patterns, and in addition to breast surgery can be used for comfort following radiotherapy, port placement, heart surgery, shoulder surgery and abdominal surgery as a lap belt. Park makes all of the ParkPuffs by hand in Los Angeles, and three dollars from every purchase is donated to the Remember Betty foundation.
The ParkPuff (Betty Circle), $39, Survivormoda.com
AnaOno Miena Robe With Drain Management Belt
Founded by breast cancer survivor and advocate Dana Donofree, AnaOno is a lingerie line exclusively for women who’ve undergone breast-cancer-related surgeries. The Miena Robe With Drain Management Belt is ideal for recovering from a mastectomy or any breast cancer surgery because it has a holder for surgical drains. The front tie allows easy access to your drains and the soft fabric and lightweight material embodies the company’s mission that comfort should not be a compromise.
AnaOno Miena Robe With Drain Management Belt, $78, Anaono.com
Pink Pockets are flannel squares that easily peel and stick to the inside of clothing to discreetly hide up to two drains in each pocket. Created by a breast cancer survivor, Diane Ungurs LeBleu, Pink Pockets take the discomfort out of drain maintenance. Pink Pockets can be temporarily added to any garment to hold a drain so you don't have to use pins in your clothing. Once surgical drains are removed by your doctor following your mastectomy or breast surgery, the pockets can be easily removed.
Pink Pockets 4 Pairs (8 Pockets), $19.99, Pink-pockets.com
AnaOno Rora Mastectomy Front Closure Bra
Finding the best bra to wear after surgery will depend significantly on your doctor’s recommendations and your personal comfort. AnaOno’s lingerie line consists of several bras that can be helpful following a mastectomy or breast reconstructive surgery. The compression level and front-closure of the Rora Mastectomy Front Closure Bra makes it ideal for post-op recovery. The bra is full coverage with medium support and comes in four colors: black, ivory, sand and dusty rose. The wide back bridge and armpit area are intended to offer easy release as well as back support.
AnaOno Rora Mastectomy Front Closure Bra, $54, Anaono.com
KellyBeeDesigns Post Mastectomy Sweatshirt Hoodie
After having a bilateral mastectomy and finding drain management to be the most difficult part, Kelly Hobbs, the woman behind KellyBeeDesigns, created a hooded sweater with two large drain pockets hidden inside. Each pocket can hold multiple drains. The sweater is lightweight and zips at the front to allow for minimal arm movement following surgery. Pocket fabric options range from pretty florals to animals.
Post Mastectomy Sweatshirt Hoodie With Drain Pouch Post Surgical Pockets, $50, Etsy.com
‘The Diary of Nalie: A Collection of Life Lessons and Reflections Shared While Thriving Through Stage IV Cancer’
Breast cancer thriver and advocate Nalie Agustin is well-known for documenting her breast cancer journey through her blog and social media. She is now a bestselling author, after recently publishing The Diary of Nalie: A Collection of Life Lessons and Reflections Shared While Thriving Through Stage IV Cancer. Agustin shares intimate passages from her diary to reflect on the biggest lessons throughout her journey with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
The Diary of Nalie: A Collection of Life Lessons and Reflections Shared While Thriving Through Stage IV Cancer, $21.23, Amazon.com
‘Navigating Your Breast Health: Assessing and Managing Breast Cancer Risk’
As women become more aware of hereditary breast cancer risk, there’s a growing need for patients to better understand what options exist. The breast cancer survivor and surgeon Anne Peled, MD, wrote Navigating Your Breast Health: Assessing and Managing Breast Cancer Risk to help fill this gap. Whether you’re looking to understand breast health, screening options, or surgical options — this e-book offers beautiful illustrations and much-needed resources. It also looks at what to expect before and after surgery.
Navigating Your Breast Health: Assessing and Managing Risk, $0.99, Amazon.com
Brilliantly Warm Wearable
After Kristen Carbone’s preventive mastectomy, she found herself feeling constantly cold. Carbone soon learned that she wasn’t the only mastectomy patient with implants who was having this problem and was inspired to create something to help. Brilliantly Warm is an app-controlled warming wearable that can be inserted between the cup of a bra and the skin. It can be purchased as a single or set and is completely rechargeable.
Brilliantly Warm (pair of units), $180, Brilliantly.co
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