I thought that having cancer I could leave everything up to the doctors and nurses to deal with but there were quite a few things I needed and I thought, why not make a cancer shopping list? It might help someone who has been recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer because it is all such a whirlwind and there are many things the doctors dont tell you and why should they? They are there to save your life, not ensure your hair looks nice or advise you of your stinky armpits which will become an issue.
The first thing you are going to need is a coat hanger made for jeans/pants. You know the ones with the clips on them? Get a couple because I have found this the absolute best way to store all of your ultrasounds and X-Rays. See picture 🙂
Next, cut your hair. I know I know, you want to keep your hair as long as you can in case or when you lose it through chemo. I didn’t have beautiful hair but it was long and often tied back in a pony tail but Dr Hands (Sam) advised me that after surgery, I probably wouldn’t be able to lift my left arm to be able to put it up in this pony tail. It would also be harder to wash and hair like mine (thin, knotty, dull) needs to be dried with a blow dryer each and every time it is washed so again, a hard job. My amazing and wonderful friend Nicole gave me an awesome bob cut just below my ears and it has been so much easier to handle and it looks really nice! Consider cutting your hair.
Headband. If you decide your hair is too amazing to cut, grab a headband or something similar. If you are anything like me, you will sweat after the surgery thanks to anesthetic and that makes ones hair greasy and disgusting. At least with a headband (or a hat) you will look half respectable.
Dry Shampoo is something I discovered after surgery because who knew you could only wash the bottom half of yourself? There was to be no water above the waist (no, I didn’t use the blow dryer and dry shampoo ‘down there’) but seriously, that is one useless way to shower. Consider buying those wet toilet paper things that are like baby wipes because they seriously do keep you clean and fresh. Washing from the waist down is a time consuming bullshit waste of time so don’t bother. Use the baby wipes instead. And I wasn’t aloud to shower in too hot a water because the steam could affect the dressing so, sponge baths and dry shampoo was the answer. And seriously, that dry shampoo stuff really does work!
Pajamas. And lots of them. Spend a little money on them too because if you are anything like me, you’ll be in hospital for five days and laying about in the same PJ’s is no fun. I was so fortunate to have the most amazing work people who all chipped in and bought me an amazing bag full of goodies and one of those parcels was a lovely pair of pj’s from Sussan. Ensure the top is loose though because a lot of doctors and nurses are always looking down your top and up your top. No good if you have a tight fitting top on.
Body lotion. Not only does this moisturise the very dry skin you will probably get from the anesthetic and hospital stay, it also fragrances the room. Remember my fart issue? Just in case no one sends you flowers, you will need something to scent the room to cover the fart and any body odour that arises and trust me, it arises. If you have lymph nodes removed as well as your breast, you will find it near impossible to clean under that arm because it is sort of numb but also incredibly difficult to lift.
Slippers. I kid you not, get them! My cousin bought me a care package full of lots of different things and one of them was a pair of slippers. They were gorgeous and they were slip on slippers. I loved them the moment she bought them for me but in all honesty, I didn’t think I would use them often. Turns out, I never took the bloody things off except to sleep. They had little rubber things on the bottom which were perfect when I needed to use the bathroom. You will more than likely have to wear these amazing knee length white stockings after surgery which will assist in preventing blood clots and you are not aloud to get up and about without shoes or slippers because you could slip and break your neck. No use getting cancer cut out if you are going to break your neck because you knee length white stockings are slippery. I wore these gorgeous slippers everywhere. I woke one night when the nurse was about to take my midnight blood pressure and noticed she was pointing her torch to the ground, I asked what she was doing and blow me down, she was looking for the brand of my slippers because she loved them so much. OK ok, I’ll photograph them before I post this so you can see them. They’re gorgeous. My cousin even thought ahead to ensure she got ones you could ‘slip on’ because, having a boobectimy and lymph nodes removed, she seemed to know I wouldn’t be able to reach down to pull the back of slippers up. You will also be taken for either more x-rays or a heart gate blood pool thing and you don’t want to be going barefoot because the machines needed have to be kept cold so take your slippers. Even the staff wear coats and some even have scarves on because it is so cold down there!
You will notice I have taken a photo of my slippers with my gorgeous Groodle Brady Bailey-Wilkinson. He is a part of my chemo ‘shopping list’. Brady gets very long fur (see previous post of him at the beach, yes, that is the same dog) and I just knew that going through chemo, possible nausea, tiredness etc, I needed to have him shaved so he is clean, smells nice, un-matted and as I’ll be home, he wont be cold because he’ll be snuggled up with me. But seriously, how gorgeous are these slippers Tam bought me?
Positive Stuff. I am not religious. I don’t have a god as such but I often have a wee chat with the universe and I also sometimes make deals with the universe but I did have a few special things I needed to make me feel good, to give me the positive power I needed to get through each day in hospital. 3 specially chosen crystals were sent to me from my cousin Kelly (and her sister Sherri) from Bryon Bay to assist with the healing, good thoughts and feelings and were in a lovely silky bag. They came with me. I bought a pink bulldog ornament which, when I saw it, I knew that was my ‘fighter’ within. He came with me too. There was a magnet photo of that boy of mine Brady that Sam had snuck into my suitcase. A photo of Sam and I.
Roll On Deodorant. In all honesty, I was not comfortable using spray deodorant because of the ‘wound’ and such and I wish I had thought to take a roll on.
A Positive Outlook. What I absolutely love about having cancer in 2015 is knowing that my Mr Kollias (surgeon) has spent years of his youth, dollars yet unearnt and now his life, learning how to save my life. Yes, there are a lot of people in Mr Kollias’ life but on the 20th of April, 2015, he was there, in his scrubs, to save my life. He took it upon himself to dedicate his life to saving men and women from breast cancer. Yes, he has a side love of creating lovely breasts for cancer and non cancer people but on that night, at 7pm, he was there to save me. Mr Kollias told me on our first meeting that there were going to be many people in my life to help me through this journey, nurses, oncologists, ultrasound and xray experts but he, MY Mr Kollias was going to be the Captain of the ship. I almost fell in love with this man. I have one man just that one bit above Mr Kollias and that is Dr Hands. My man Sam. The man who took the lump in my boob seriously. The man who made me promise to have it checked. The man who spent every available moment by my side in hospital. The man who has spent all available moments to boss me around, make sure I am not doing too much, to make sure I have had my pain medications. The love of my life. So, in short, trust your surgeon, oncologist and nurses. If you dont, get new ones. These people, especially your surgeon and oncologist are going to be your best friends for many years to come. If you are not comfortable with either or any of these people, speak to your GP and get someone new. I am incredibly lucky to have had a GP who, in my opinion, gave me the best of the best.
What you wont need –
Food. Not sure about public hospitals but if you go private, they feed you every three hours. I have Aisle 3 in my room and barely any of it was needed except for the gluten free lollies (thanks Tam) and the lactose free milk. Everything else came home with me.
Towels. They have so many of these that it is ridiculous.
Pillows. They have improved and are very comfortable. In my opinion anyway 🙂
Dressing Gown. Mine stayed in the closet. It wasn’t needed. If I was wheeled anywhere such as further x-rays and such, I was given a gorgeous warm blanket. No gown needed.
Make-Up. Nope, didn’t even look at it. Geez, my boob is missing and in some bin somewhere. Why did I think make-up was necessary.
Alcohol. I bloody couldn’t believe it but at St Andrews Hospital, there are beverage choices at dinner time being beer, white wine, red wine but no bubbly. That is ok, I ordered some beer for Sam because I wasn’t game enough for the alcohol so soon after surgery. But just know, it is there as an option.
So, that is the whole Breast Cancer Pre Surgery shopping list. Next on my list over the next couple of weeks will be my Pre Chemo Shopping list. As you can see, I have had Brady’s fur cut within an inch of his life the poor lad. Normally we wouldn’t even consider a hair cut for him because being out in the Adelaide Hills through winter is not the time for my dog to be bald but pft, if I am going to be bald then so can he. And as I said previously, I’ll be home for at least six months so both he and Kelly (you’ll meet her later) will spend more time inside with me instead of outside. We stretched every budget imaginable to have a pergola built before winter so the dogs would have a place to reside through winter while Dr Hands and I are at work but it seems that it wasn’t overly necessary. I’ll be here with them. They’ll be sleeping at my feet, on my lap, on one of the sofas enjoying the lovely wood fire while I go through and recover from chemotherapy. Thankfully the paving we were concerned about where the money was coming from can now wait due to me being home. Brady is such a lovely sharing dog that he likes to being half of the mud from the backyard into the house with him. Me being home means he can ‘duck out’ for a quick piddle and poop and be right back inside with minimal mud/dirt/
If any Breast Cancer peeps know of something I may have missed from the shopping list, let us know! I am only knew at this cancer bizzo. It hasn’t even been a month since diagnosis and already, I am a boob down, 9 lymph nodes gone, five days in hospital, calling in sick for the next six months for chemo etc….