Top 10 Tips – Post Mastectomy

PHOTO NOTE: This photo was taken with my dad after I graduated from Northern Illinois University (Masters in Public Administration in May, 2011).

INTRO: Some things you don’t learn in the classroom, but only by going through it firsthand. I took my frustrated energies and created a list of helpful hints that will hopefully make your recovery just a bit easier.


1.  Rest.  Take it totally easy the first full week.  Take multiple naps, watch movies and relax. Have people do almost everything for you to avoid overdoing it.

2. Drains hurt! There is no way around this.  They are sewn into your body to stay in place. Their job is to keep body fluid flowing out of the area operated on to avoid swelling – they are doing their job, so remember that when you are cursing them and their pinching and discomfort.  A small pillow placed in between your side and armpit can help reduce the friction and pain.  Also a pillow purse can also help avoid the bumping. Warning…drains can be painful when you empty them. Once you empty them the suction is better and pressure increases. If this pain catches you off guard, you can unplug the drain to temporarily ease the pressure until you can get situated better.  Plan to take your pain meds one full hour prior to emptying your drains to minimize your pain.  NOTE:  Take a FULL dose of pain meds one hour prior to your appointment to get your drains out.  This can be a very painful procedure so plan ahead (and bring in a friendly hand to squeeze). The surgeon first snips the stitches, then pulls out the tube with a firm yank. No butts about it – it will hurt, but having no drains is SO much better.

3.  Pain Medication.  Don’t be afraid to take this regularly.  When you are in pain (past a 4 of 10) it is too late.  It seems counterintuitive to take pain meds when you are not in a lot of pain, but the job of medicine is to avoid pain (and relieve pain as well).  Managing pain early on avoids feeling miserable waiting for pain meds to kick in.  If one pain med isn’t working for you or making you have bad side effects, call your doctor and get a different one.  You should not have to be in horrible pain, so don’t be a martyr. Keep a regimented schedule for the first week, then reassess after your drains come out.

4.  Doctor visits/car trips.  Plan your pain meds accordingly before you go see the doctor.  You’ll be moving around in ways you haven’t been at home, so, again, plan ahead to avoid a painful trip.  Bring a pillow with you to put between you and the seat belt too.

5.  Sleeping. take your full dose of pain meds one hour prior to bed and sleep in the guest room if you have one.  Spread out and put a pillow under your affected side/s.  Simply elevating affected arm/s takes off the pressure.

6. Physical Therapy (PT).  If your surgeon or the hospital doesn’t give you exercises to do at home to help your recovery and range of motion (ROM), ask for a PT prescription!  A PT will help you regain ROM and massage your scar tissue, adhesions and also give you encouragement.  Some PT’s are also certified in lymphedema, a painful condition of arm swelling that can happen when lymph nodes are removed. Put a PT on your care team and help yourself heal faster. You might also try ASTYM treatment that helps regenerate the affected areas more quickly, but check with your doctor first. Here is a link to get you moving

7.  Fatigue.  This is normal, but very frustrating.  Ease into your ‘normal’ routine.  Your body is recovering from a major ordeal and healing takes a lot of your cellular energy.  Work in ‘spurts’ – maybe three a day – one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  A spurt may only last 15 minutes or up to an hour or two depending on where you are in your recovery.  Plan a small little chore to do for your next spurt (not shoveling the snow off the driveway) so you have something to look forward to and feel a small sense of accomplishment.  Work on a scrapbook, organize your photos, empty the dishwasher, and arrange flowers, whatever you feel like doing, just don’t over do it.

8. To Cammy or Not?  If you did not have reconstructive surgery, you may want to purchase a camisole.  Most insurance covers this and you can be fitted for a prosthetic to slip in the cami.  Some camisoles are designed to hold your drains – that would be better than the constant pinning and unpinning of the drains!  You should wait until your drains are out to be fitted for a prosthetic insert.  Specialty boutiques take appointments; ask to make sure their staff are certified fitters to make sure you get a proper fit from caring and knowledgeable professionals. Also, the American Cancer Society has resources at no cost if this is an issue.

9. Resume Exercise.  The sooner you can get up and about, the faster you will heal.  Everyone is encouraged to walk.  Start by walking the halls of the hospital – one lap on day one, two laps on day two, or whatever you feel up to.  This is not a race, so listen to your body and stop when you are tired or dizzy and rest when you are tired.   When you get home from the hospital, walk to the end of the block, then a bit further each time.  Take someone with you if you feel unsteady and don’t walk outside if weather is icy or unsafe.  You don’t want to create more problems by falling!  Take your cell phone with you as a precaution so you can make a phone call if you need to get help.

10.  Reach Out.  You are undergoing something that is not natural.  Losing a breast or breasts is very a major deal both physically and emotionally.  Cry when you need to and laugh when you can.  Do not crawl up into a ball and feel sorry for yourself (easier said than done).  There are other women that have gone through what you are feeling.  The American Cancer Society has the “Reach to Recovery” program that can match you up with a volunteer who has experienced much of what you are going through. Also, Immerman Angels can pair you with someone whose breast cancer experience is similar.  I participated in Living Well Cancer Resource’s “Mastectomy Support Group” and was able to share confidentially with other women who have walked in my shoes. Don’t suffer in silence! Talking is therapeutic and helps heal your inner feminine self.  Also check online resources to help answer questions and know you are not in this alone.  Check the links section of this website for mentioned resources and others you may find helpful.

71 comments on “Top 10 Tips – Post Mastectomy

  1. Thank you for making all this information available! The before and after has been very helpful and empowering! I’ll be sure to share this blog with others!

      • I am sure she will be fine, and I will be thinking of her today. Sometimes the cneacr road with all the hick-ups make you a stronger and wiser person and you enjoy life on a different level once your through it.

      • My mother just had her second mastectomy. I was looking for some post mastectomy clothing and somehow got on your post about the 10 things to expect …I saw the pictue of you and your dad and recognized him. when I noticed your maiden name was Wilk, I had to write. I go to church with your parents! What a great coincidence. I know they have have had a rough year. Just wanted you to know how much I think of them and what they mean to St. James. Thanks for the advice, I will let my mother read this.

  2. This comment was emailed to me by Sue and is a great one!

    “I just looked at your web site and found it very informative. It’s
    been 1 year tomorrow since I had my mastectomy for DCIS.
    Here is one tip that was given to me from a person I met at church that
    also had a mastectomey for sleeping on your back post op and it really
    worked well.

    The wedge foam pillow keeps you elevated about 30 degrees and on your
    back while you sleep and it’s very comfortable. You can purchase the
    wedge for about $30 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It was the best, and it
    helped decrease the swelling after surgery. I did have a small pillow
    under the affected arm too.”

    • `DCIS – and 5 lymph nodes removed (clear nodes) I had my right mastectomy with no reconstruction on april 16th 2013 , and I will be 4 weeks post op and I am still very swollen , and have seroma ,its very painful ,I am still doing my exercises put its difficult ,I am having my fluid drained every week and unfortunately now have an infection so I am on antibiotics . My advice is pretty much the same get loads of pillows in bed to keep you comfortable , everyone is different atleast that’s what the hospital tell me , and so everyone reacts differently . My thoughts go to anyone who is ,or had a mastectomy its difficult but your strength get you through xx

  3. 12 days post op…. bilateral mastectomy with TE reconstruction. 18 lymph nodes removed. Still have 1 of 5 pesky drains left.
    My advice is beg, borrow or buy a comfy recliner to sleep in at night. It’s been a lifesaver for me so far, and will probably need again once permanent implants are put in later this year.
    Best wishes to you all! 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for posting so much great information. I have been waiting for my surgery date for over a month. Now that it is less than a week away I am getting incredibly nervous. I have been trying to make sure that I have everything but after reading your tips my mother and I had a race to get ready and go shopping. All the little things take the edge off. Thank you for taking the time to share this information and your tips with everyone to make our journey a little easier!

    • Hi Jen,
      I hope all goes well for you with your surgery. Take a deep breath, let others help as much as possible, and give yourself plenty of time to recover.
      Warm Wishes for a speedy recovery,

      • Thanks Britta,
        I just got home last night. I only had to have one lymph node removed and it was fine! I am doing very well & was up & moving a few hours after surgery. I definitely appreciate your tips and remembered in the hospital about the pain medicine! It is true. Stay on schedule with the meds and ask before it starts to really hurt. Remember, nurses have to place the order it and wait for it to process so you won’t get your meds right away!
        I learned that a few hours after surgery. Also, try to keep track of what meds and dosages they are giving you.

        Also, I would recommend that you clean off and sanitize your entire bathroom counter and make site you have paper towels to dry your hands! (Those disposable hand towels that are in a box like facial tissues work perfect!) I didn’t realize all of the stuff I was going to need to drain the bulbs, dressings, etc. and didn’t have the counter space ready. Just a thought. Thank you so much for creating such a helpful page. It is scary and you don’t know what to really read and believe! Your info was straight on!

        Forever grateful,

      • Hi Jen,

        So happy everything went well and they only took out one lymph node. That really reduces your chance of lymphoma, though it wouldn’t hurt to read my white paper on lymphoma on the resources page.

        Rest up, let people help you out and take time to catch up on reading and count your blessings. I like your additions to the list and should figure out a way to update my top 10 to be Top 20 to include all the great tips folks send me.

        Enjoy the summer!

        Britta Wilk McKenna Founder, Breast Cancer MyStory, Inc.

  5. Hi, I’m 6 days post surgery; partial radical mastectomy of my right breast, level 2 dissection of lymph nodes. There were 12 within the tissue taken, 3 were infected. My Dr says that’s good news, 4 and above the odds of it metastasizing increase exponentially. So 3 sounds good to me. Yes, the drain is such a pain!!!! Ouch big time. Also I hate taking all these pain Meds I feel so unstable. However all of this is nothing if I am cancer free and that’s what I keep reminding myself. Had the implant done at time of surgery and after I see the Plastic Surgeon tomorrow I will make my appt with the Breast surgeon and medical oncologist to find out what’s next. One day, one step at time we will all get through this!!!!

    • Hi Patti,

      Each day of recovery is one day closer to feeling a bit more like “yourself” again. Use this time to get your energy back, read something you’ve never had time to read and take it one step at a time. Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery and good health in the year ahead. Regards, Britta

  6. Thank you for the information! It helps to know what to expect. I am having a bilateral mastectomy on January and I am starting to get nervous. I just want all this to be over with.
    Best wishes 🙂

  7. Thank you for posting this great information. i’m having a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction in about 4 weeks and had little idea of what to expect. This has been so helpful and gives me more courage to face the unknown.
    Best Wishes,

    • Hi Jennie,
      I’m glad you find the site helpful – that is why it is here! Remember to let others help you and take your time in recovery. Best wishes to you in your upcoming surgery and in the New Year.


  8. I’ve been seeing a doctor once a week since 10-17-13 getting mammo’s & biopsies. Was told I have DCIS and decided on 12-20 to have a left simple mast instead of a lumpectomy. My lump is 8cm plus the 2cm clear margins. I got my surgery date today for 2-3 and will have reconstruction with expanders done immediately after the surgery. I’ve had a really positive, upbeat attitude about the whole thing so far so I’m kind of expecting some sort of shock to set in after it’s been done. I really appreciate webpages like this and it makes me feel like I’m better prepared for what’s ahead. Thanks Britta!

    • Teri, thank you for taking the time to talk about your story with breast cancer. My best wishes on what is ahead for you. Nobody should feel alone – that is why I started this website. Don’t forget to take time to be good to yourself and take it one day at a time. – Britta

      • I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery (expanders) on April 15 so I’m two weeks post-op. My cancer was stage 1. The first few days were painful and tearful, but then I kind of “turned a corner.” My biggest gripes are that I’m tired and sore and the expanders feel tight. I had four drains which have never hurt at all, but they are awkward and bulky. Two were removed last week with no pain at all. I’m looking forward to having the other two removed in the next few days (fingers crossed).

      • Hi Janett,
        We all experience things differently and I’m glad your drains did not hurt. I’m also glad you found the corner to turn! Expansion can be uncomfortable so go slowly.

        My best,


  9. You are so right about everyone having a different experience! It is certainly helpful to hear about other people’s experiences, but each person’s journey is definitely unique! I’m nervous about what’s to come but not NEARLY as nervous as I was before the surgery. It’s such a cliche, but you really do have to take it one day at a time. I see small improvements every day.
    This is a good site by the way.

  10. Came across this site when looking for at home tips post surgery. I just had a bilateral mastectomy for DCIS and only had one lymph node removed (clean) and was just curious how others recovered. I had 2 drains and 1 was already removed (4 days post surgery) and the other will be removed tomorrow (8 days post surgery) Cleaning the drains 5-6x per day helped flush things out as well as keeping hydrated. I am a very active person and was in the middle of training for an Ironman when I was diagnosed, so it’s been difficult to relax and not do anything. But I am definitely fatigued and do take advantage of naps, which I think have helped my recovery come along so well. I also have one of those pillows with the arms (Bed Bath & Beyond), which helps keep me propped up while sitting and/or sleeping. I also use a larger pillow in the side of me and am able to sleep on my side relatively comfortable. Another tip was putting bacitracin around the drain stitches to help with the pain. Also a friend of mine made me this awesome shirt with ribbon ties all down the front and inside pockets for my drains. This has been a complete lifesaver to me!!!

  11. Thank you so much for these tips. I will be undergoing a double mastectomy next month. I have also been diagnosed with DCIS Stage 0. It has been hard to grapple with and make the connection of how I can go from being diagnosed with PRE-Invasive Cancer but yet Mastectomy is the only treatment option but because of the large area. I have no choice. DCIS was only found on my right side but I have opted to go forward with a double mastectomy. I have saved your tips so again thank you!

    • Hi Tunisia,
      I’m happy you found my tips helpful and wish you the best for your upcoming mastectomy. Remember to accept help and ease your way back into things slowly. Best wishes. Britta

  12. I just had a rt mastectomy on June 3rd. Stage one and one clean lymph node. My 2 drains were taken out 2 days after surgery. I am now getting fairly swollen and am not sure if I should be massaging. I have very little discomfort and have been trying to keep my arm elevated when I am up. Any suggestions to help the swelling? Thank you Bettie

    • Hi Bettie,
      Glad to hear your lymph node was clear and drains are out. I would cool down the swollen area (a pack of frozen peas works nicely and you can put a cool damp wash cloth in between). Call your doctor, especially if the area seems warmer and redder than the surrounding tissue. Best wishes on a speedy and full recovery. Britta

  13. Bettie, I have heard that treating the swelling with ice may not be a good idea since you are probably numb from the surgery. The peas might work because they wouldn’t be as cold as an ice pack. It will be hard to tell though if it is TOO cold. Maybe just use a cold (not frozen) compress till you can speak to your doctor’s office.

  14. Thanks for the information. I was diagnosed with DCIS in March 2014, and had a lumpectomy and removal of 3 lymph nodes in May. There were no clear borders so I had a left mastectomy on July 18. I am having a difficult time sleeping on my back and was looking for ideas. I use several pillows but find relief only when I sit up as the expander is very uncomfortable. I found some great suggestions from reading all the posts. Thanks everyone for sharing.

  15. Thank You to all for the helpful information. I was diagnosed with Stage One Invasive Lobular on 8/6 and am having bilateral mastectomy soon…should be finding out the date by the end of the week. I’m coping but am really scared as I was not thinking of mastectomy but after doing my research and getting many opinions, I feel that it is best!

    I found this site as I want to use this time to prepare for recovery. Super helpful comments…my best to you all!

  16. Thank you for your tips, I was diagnosed with IDC-L August 25, 2014 and will undergo a bilateral mastectomy October 30th with reconstruction I am very scared but deep down inside I know that I will be fine after my surgery.

    Thanks everyone for sharing..

    • Pattie, I hope you are recovering and giving yourself the “me” time you need to get back into a new routine. With the holidays upon us, don’t try and do too much too soon. Let others who have offered to help, do so. Britta

    • Hi Pattie I was wondering how your surgery went and how you are feeling now that it is behind you?I am going to be having a double Mastectomy next month and scared to death!! I’m glad I found this website with helpful hits.Please let me know how your recovery went.

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  19. I was diagnosed with DCIS October 1st and had right total masectomy and 3 lymph nodes removed because my lumpectomy did not produce clear margins . I am 4 days post surgery and experiencing chest pain and expander very bulky and uncomfortable . Feels like it might poke through the skin!! I have one drain and that pain has greatly subsided and I am going to hopefully get it out tomorrow! This has been a great site and I have referred to it a lot ! My advice would be to get your entire house cleaned and all laundry done and buy cheap men’s flannel shirts ($7 from Walmart ) because they hide the bulky drain, are soft, and easy to put on. Also invest in paper plates so you don’t have to do dishes! Even loading dishes in dishwasher is exhausting 😦 . Thx for this site!

  20. Thank you for taking the time to help others. This post has great common sense information, thank you for giving women permission to plan for restored health by planning rest.I will share this with my sister who is having surgery January 9, 2015.

  21. Thank you for all the helpful hints. I am having a double mastectomy next month and all these helpful hints are wonderful. If there is anyone that recently had a double mastectomy I would be interested in your experiences also. Thank you

  22. I wonder why you had so much pain. I’m sorry to hear you had to suffer so much. Did you have reconstruction — possibly that would add to the discomfort. I declined reconstruction and have had almost no pain. The drains are a darned nuisance and they do hurt if I accidentally snag a finger in a loop, but certainly emptying the grenades and stripping the tubes are painless.

    Just stumbled across your site while googling the procedure involved in getting free of the hated drains, so have not yet had time to explore. But hope to read elsewhere that you recovered and by now are doing fine. Be well!

  23. 1st time on any BC site! Had a double mastectomy Nov 18 with immediate reconstruction! One drain fell out on day 5 after surgery! PA removed other drain next day… Needless to say infection set in removal of implants Dec 1 drains & vacs placed 3rd surgery Dec5 to remove vacs & place expanders . Here we are 7 weeks after 3rd surgery weekly fills & 4th surgery probably in a May… Ugh!!! But still feel blessed I am here to write this. God Bless to all💕🙏

    • Kerry. I hope things go smoother from here. I had a left mastectomy last week with immediate reconstruction and I’m so worried about infection. I know its a high risk procedure but I felt a little better starting the road to feeling like me again. I wish I had read all of these great tips before my surgery!

      I have read every story on here and It makes me not feel so alone

  24. Thank you so much for all the info/help! I just had a bilateral mastectomy less than a week ago for Stage 3 Lobular Carcinoma; I have been looking on the net for some kind of help with the pain from these drainage tubes-to no avail until I found your site! You’ve been a great deal of help to me 😊

    • Hi Traci,
      I am happy you found my site helpful. Now that a few more weeks have passed, I’m hoping you are on the mend and gaining your strength each day. Spring is almost here….blessings. Britta

  25. Hi Traci. I had a bilateral mastecomy 18 days ago. My left side is doing great, but my right side is so horribly painful. It feels like it is a frozen muscle spasm. The pain with the horrible pressure is continuos. Talked to my doc last week, she said it takes time. I went to see her today and she said its a fluke and I need some physical therapy, gave me different pain pills along with some muscle relaxers. Well, 13 hours later and nothing has changed! please do you have any thoughts, I honestly don’t know how I can continue like this. Thank you for sharing your story. Diane

  26. Hello Britta – I found your very helpful site today – 18 months after breast cancer diagnosis – and have read every post. You are providing a wonderful way for people to share tips, ask questions and get encouragement. Your specific Top 10 Tips are straight forward and more helpful than anything the docs or various oncology specialists provided. My only regret is that I didn’t stumble upon your site before now.

    I am 8 months post mastectomy and going through a long reconstruction process, trying to tolerate the extremely uncomfortable tissue expander and now dealing with the added pain of an infection near the surgery site. Heavily medicated with antibiotics, and 3 more months until TE comes out and permanent implant goes in.

    At this point for me, while I wait-wait-wait for the final surgery, managing the continual discomfort is the name of the game. A properly-fitted bra (or no bra at all), the use of pillows (under arm, between chest and seatbelt, and while sleeping) and ibuprofen as needed are the things that are helping me get through this stage. Anyone have additional advice, particularly for TE discomfort? Anyone else feel like there is a boulder on your chest?

    Thanks, and best wishes to others out there struggling to get back to your “normal” self.

    • Cathe,
      Glad you found the site helpful. I’m sorry your road is so long and rocky. I would make sure your doctor knows of your discomfort to see if there is anything they can do for your pain. Sometimes expanding too quickly causes pain. I know I felt discomfort after each fill, but that usually subsided in a few days. Check with your doc and keep the positive attitude. Britta

  27. Thank you so much for this info. I am having bilateral mastectomies prophylacticly after being cancer free for 8 years. I wanted the mastectomies when first diagnosed but was talked into. Lumpectomy. It has always bothered me. I had a TNBC and do fear recurrence. I am grateful to have support of doctor’s and family. Thanks for your tips–I am a retired Oncology RN and get the importance of all this.

  28. I’m just now in the process of absorbing my diagnosis of breast cancer. I have choices to make. Lumpectomy with radiation that scares the pants off me or double mastectomy with breast reconstruction. The thought of having reoccurring cancer and radiation treatments are giving me such anxieties. Then I see that the drains and expanders are driving people into despair. I know it’s a personal decision. Are you happy with your decision and does the pain go away. I heard radiation can cause so many issues and kill healthy tissue and cause nerve and bone damage. Everyone has a choice and I’m freaked out with both.

    • Hi Lidia,
      The unknown can be a scary place and one way to fight back is by educating yourself and reaching out for help. Regardless of what you choose, get all your questions answered to relieve your anxiety. My choice to have a mastectomy was made on my life and personal circumstances and belief in what is best for me and you will do the same. I listed a pro’s and con’s of each procedure and included time and side effects of treatment, recovery etc. and concluded for me I would have the mastectomy. My first thoughts were to have a lumpectomy and radiation (be conservative) and I was encouraged to meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss what my breast would likely look like after the lumpectomy and what he could do for me (or not in my case of having a small breast). I then revisited my matrix of pro’s and con’s and also because I wanted to remove the most potential for future occurrence went the other direction. So, I encourage you to be educated on all choices, weight them against your lifestyle and desires and support system and then move ahead confidently in that direction. Whatever you choose will be the right decision for you. Good luck and thanks for reaching out through my website. Britta

  29. Hi Britta,
    Thank you so much for the information. It’s very useful for me. I will try to do all your recommendation. I live in Thailand, so far away from your home. I will under go my surgery tomorrow, mastectomy due to DCIS. I wish you healthy and enjoy your life.

    • Hi Sangsreejun,

      I am hoping your surgery went well earlier this month and you are on your way to being fully recovered. Don’t try to rush yourself back to your routine. It takes time to recover. Best wishes on your path. Britta

  30. Hello to everyone! This is a very helpful, useful site to read posts with questions, answers and info in general. I had a left breast mastectomy because of High grade DCIS last Wednesday, 9/23. I also had 3 sentinel nodes removed and one drain put in. Tomorrow is my post-op appointment where I hope to find out all of the pathology results because wondering and waiting just drives me crazy!! I took the oxycodone for the first few days, even though I had little pain. Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t want to take any chances. But then I stopped a few days ago and have very little discomfort which is what I was told to expect and it was true! (I am 60 yrs old) I wish everyone dealing with breast cancer the best of everything – the best possible outcomes!

  31. Hello everyone. I had bilateral mastectomy 4 weeks ago today. I wish I had found this site before my surgery as it would have saved me some pain. I suffer from the nerve pain on my skin more than anything else . It hurts when my hair touches it. My Dr . Finally told me to rub my skin as that will help desensitize it immediately and will shorten the length of time I will suffer from it. It worked. My biggest tip! Make sure you have a small pillow to put under your arm! I carried mine everywhere for the first 2 weeks. Really worked and handy if you cough or to put between you and your seatbelt on all of those post surgery Dr. Visits.

    Good luck and God bless to you all.

  32. Thank you for your detailed information. I had my mastectomy (with lymph nodes) last month. I,m now recovering. I’m a working girl. I don’t know how much I have to rest. i want to go to the office and start my work. I’m doing the exercises regularly. Taking hormone daily. I’m doing the cooking myself. No problem for taking bath and dressing myself. Do I have to take more rest? I’m not worried about the mastectomy. But worried about the removal of lymph node removal. (mine was the 1st stage. nothing in the nodes). Can I resume my computer work? Can I go and shop? Can I travel by bus/public transport? I don’t have chemo/radiation.
    Now, I want to share this: Don’t be in a panic when you realise you have cancer. If you’re panic, your family will suffer more than you. Prepare for the worst. Do the checking of your breast (by self) every month. Do mammography once in 2 years atleast. This is nothing. If you’re diagnosed early, you are blessed. It’s your body. You have to take care of yourself. If something happened, you’re the only one to suffer physically, but mentally everybody around you. So, be ALERT!!!
    Once again thanking you for the tips.
    With regards

  33. I had a double ‘simple’ mastectomy for DCIS after a failed lumpectomy. That was December 17, 2015. Now it’s the end of April and I am suffering horribly from fatigue and foggy in the head. I was lucky enough to avoid radiation and chemotherapy – even estrogen blockers. What can I do about the brain fog and the fatigue? I feel it’s unusual to be so affected. I am 56 and post menopausal. No longer allowed to take my bio identical hormone pellets….I had my two drainage tubes in me for six weeks so was housebound….anybody have a tip to help with the fog and fatigue?

    • Hi Sharon,
      So sorry for he delay in my reply. Simply put, every body and everybody is different in how we react to disease and treatment. I would do two things. First, consult with your physician and share your symptoms to make sure there is not something else going on and second, see if you can find a local cancer care support group in your area where others can share where they are at in their treatment. Blessings on the path. Britta

  34. This is very helpful! Tired off dr.s saying gonna pinch or not hurt..thanks for being honest!

    • Hi Denise,
      Everyone’s experience is different. I shared mine with the hope that it helps others. I hope you are on the other side or near to it. Life is a blessing and I can see that more clearly in my “new normal.”

      Blessings on the road, Britta

  35. Hi Britta
    I am from srilanka , 9 days post mastectomy. Not like other countries here very few opportunities are available for cancer patients. Whenever I get time I go through site for useful info, I found yours and other tips very useful. Thank you

    • Hi Ahali, Thank you for dropping me a note to let you know this site is helpful. I endeavor to continue finding good information for those affected and also for their caregivers. Bless you and your family in 2017 and best wishes for continued recovery. Britta

  36. I am looking at a mastectomy with reconstruction spacers in two weeks for DCIS, and am starting to get nervous about post op expectations. I have not gotten any real information on life at home and care of drains, and reading your blog has helped, but leaves me wondering what I need to buy or take to the hospital. I will be in on a 23 observation admit, so pretty quick turnaround. I have asked about the camisoles to hold the drain and was told I could just get a lanyard at the dollar store and pin the drain to that because it won’t be “that long”. My plastic surgeon said he took the drains out of one patient at 2 1/2 weeks, but that was really fast, and his normal time was more like one to two months. Yikes! Do I need to get a pillow purse? Do the wedge pillows really work? Thoughts on securing the drains? What to wear home from the hospital? This is the first time I have every participated in a blog, my daughter sent this to me, so I hope I am doing is right. Thank you.

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for sharing your concerns. First, I always encourage you to ask your doctor and the nurses for specifics. Sometimes they have literature or sometimes you just have to pull it out of them and write everything down. I am an advocate of bringing along a relative or friend to your appointment prior to mastectomy so they can be another set of ears and write down everything while you are in a whirlwind of emotions and new information. Here are my personal suggestions:

      Camisole: I did not by a camisole, but there are some nice ones on the market now. I simply used a hardware $1.00 cheap hardware store bib that had two pouches and wore it outside my gown. The drain bulbs fit nicely there or you can pin them, but I preferred to hide those as they are not too attractive to others (or you) to look at for a couple of weeks. Do what feels right for you. I am a “do it yourselfer,” so that was my solution and I had it ready to go before I went to the hospital.

      Pillow purse: also up to you. I got one as a gift (though given to me really after I needed it) or just find a small soft pillow that is not an heirloom you can use (or two if double mastectomy) to place under your arm to relieve the pressure. It does help.

      Drains: Take my advice and take a pain med one hour prior to getting your drains out. Mine adhered to my skin and were very painful coming up. Some patients report they didn’t feel much of anything, so again you will have to see how you react to this. Just remember to empty them and take regular pain meds to keep the from doing a roller coaster of pain waves. Pain medicine is your friend, so use it on a schedule.

      Clothing: Do not bring any pullovers – just zip (preferred) old comfy clothing. I’d recommend a sweat top (zipped) or other very easy to put and loose piece of clothing. Buy yourself a couple of these comfy outfits for your recovery time. It is not the time for fashion! Also sweat pants for the bottom – you will have a hard time using the bathroom and DO NOT wear jeans or anything with buttons or zippers on your bottoms until you get your drains out and are feeling better.

      I hope these tips help you. Prayers for the journey. Britta

      • Thank you, Britta. I will get some comfy sweats and pocket apron from my hardware store. Great suggestions. Feeling better about things now. I will take your advice on pain meds and hopefully will be on the short side on having to keep the drains in. I m so glad you have created this site.

  37. So do I plan to rest, recover and relax during my first week after surgery or do I plan to walk around the block during my first week?

    • Hi Lori,
      Plan to relax and take a very short walk, each day going just a bit further. Start this in the hospital with supervision, using your IV as a prop to help you walk. Then take a friend with you as you walk outside or around the house as you build up your strength and stamina. Don’t rush it, just steps more each day.


  38. I’m a 39 year old male. I recently had a right mastectomy and nodes removed. Your story has definitely helped with a lot of practical issues I face.

    Thank you! 😊

  39. Thank you so much for this. I am such a wimp about pain and surgery to begun with and adding to that the emotional piece of losing breasts just amplifies the anxiety. This was very helpful.

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