No need to reinvent the wheel here. This shopping list has been compiled by seasoned survivors who have been there and done that.
After helping my sister during her recovery from her double mastectomy, I felt like I had a blueprint ready when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed the same surgery. Together we created these lists of essential tools for patients; hopefully, they’ll help you too.
Every patient’s needs will be different depending on whether they are in-patient or out-patient, having surgery, or going through chemo and radiation.
What you need for a mastectomy
- Drain lanyard for shower so you can shower with less worry about the drains dangling or possibly being pulled out.
- Mastectomy pillow goes underneath the arms and over the breast area to protect your new incisions and make you feel more secure.
- Shower seat so if you feel weak after surgery you can just sit down and relax while washing up
- Detachable showerhead provides more independence in the shower
- Wedge pillow to make getting in and out of your own bed so much easier after surgery.
- Mastectomy drain jacket Having a jacket with inside pockets makes it easy to hide drains safely as you go about your day.
- Front closure bra with compression A compression post-surgical bra can help reduce swelling. (Make sure to consult your surgeon on this one.)
- Cell phone charger This is a must to stay charged to communicate with friends or family during treatment.
- Travel blanket Some of the medications you are given can make you tired and a blanket can help you when you need to rest during treatments. A travel blanket to take to appointments was one of the best gifts I received during treatment.
What you need for radiation
- Calendula gel or ointment for tender dry skin.
- LaRoche Posay’s Cicaplast balm for dry skin was a lifesaver for me! I used it in between treatments as an all-over moisturizer
- Cold drink tumblers with a straw make staying hydrated during treatment easier, which is so important.
- Hydration/electrolyte packets to add to water make it easier to stay hydrated. I always find I can drink more water if it’s flavored. These have a great lemon-lime flavor and are packed with essential electrolytes.
- Noise Canceling earplugs come in handy when waiting for appointments. Being able to tune in to your favorite music or show without disturbing everyone else in the waiting room can be a nice break.
If a loved one lives far away, you can always send them a gift box specific for those going through radiation
What do you need for chemo?
- Ginger Tea or candy is soothing to the digestive system and is good to keep on hand as Chemo can make some people nauseous.
- Headphones/AirPods to listen to and watch shows to stay entertained. Chemo infusions can take as long as 3 hours
- Lip Balm and Lotion Chemo can dry out your skin. Keeping lip balm can help with chapped lips and lotion can ease the uncomfortable feeling of dry skin
- Lunch Tote with cooler pack having a nice size lunch tote to keep favorite drinks and meals cool for those long appointment days. Check out www.packit.com a freezable lunch bag with the cooler pack built right in! Keeps food and drinks cold for hours!
- Plastic Utensils Some experience a metallic taste in their mouth due to chemo. Using plastic forks and spoons helps. These travel-on-the-go reusable utensil sets are perfect to take when on the go.
- Light snacks like oatmeal, crackers, cereal, nut butters, smoothies, soups, ginger or lemon-lime soda, and tea can work magic.