Helping you through breast cancer treatment

Packing for your mastectomy surgery (printable check list)

Packing for your mastectomy surgery (printable check list)

With thanks to everyone on Twitter who contributed to the discussion on what to take to hospital for mastectomy surgery, here’s the list. Just print it out by clicking on the print icon at the foot of the list.

  1. Wash bag of toiletries including a toothbrush, toothpaste, regular facial toiletries or face wipes, soap and dry shampoo. An electric toothbrush requires less movement so it might be worth using one of these. Wet wipes also come in very handy.
  2. Clean undies. Pack for a few days longer than you’ll told you’ll be kept in. Just in case.
  3. Nightwear – ideally top and bottoms with the top easy to open from the front and not over the head. Short sleeves are best as these are easiest for the nurses to take blood pressure in the night. Some tops have a little pocket on the front which can be handy for a PICO pump.
  4. Dressing gown and slippers because you will probably have to walk to the operating theatre. Make sure your slippers don’t have slippery soles and avoid taking flip flops because you’ll be wearing surgical stockings. And slip-on slippers are best because you may struggle to bend down after surgery.
  5. Something to do like a book, magazine, downloaded film on an iPad/phone and headphones. If you have noise cancelling headphones take them. Hospitals are noisy all the time.
  6. Phone and charger – either a plug in one, or one of those power banks that you charge at home first.
  7. Snacks – think about how long you are going to be in hospital and pack accordingly. Also take some boiled sweets/mints for when you don’t have much of an appetite.
  8. Drinks such as juice boxes, bottles of water, herbal tea bags, cordial, squash etc.
  9. A tall sports water bottle with a non-drip spout so that you can drink more easily without having to sit up to sip.
  10. Note pad and pen for jotting down instructions and information from the nurses.
  11. Towel
  12. Post mastectomy bra – there are various options available and you may have a recommendation from your consultant. Check out Reco Bras and Live Better With for some options. Or a front fastening sports bra from somewhere like Marks and Spencers.
  13. A small cushion that you can wear in the car on the way home between the seat belt and your chest.
  14. Something easy to wear when you leave hospital – ideally something that buttons or zips up at the front, a skirt or jogging bottom/baggies and flat, easy to slip on shoes or boots.
  15. Small pillows for under your arms, for example, the Jen’s Friends cushions. These pillows are used after mastectomy surgery / or any breast surgery to help support and protect the tender chest area. They help by fitting under the arm when doing everyday tasks such as sitting, sleeping, watching TV and when in the car. Jens friends pillows are free and these fantastic people just ask you to donate £3 for postage and packaging of the pillows.
  16. Bags for the drains (such as Drain Dollies) or even just a couple of lightweight tote bags. And ask the hospital for more drain bags before you leave – it saves time and faffing when you need more.
  17. Details of your prescription medication to give to the nurses.
  18. Eye mask, ear plugs, hand cream and tissues.
  19. Other suggestions include:
    • Arnica cream to help with the bruising – a couple of ladies said it worked brilliantly and they had very little bruising.
    • Small amount of money – you may wish to purchase a TV card.
    • Back scratcher
    • Small fan
    • A little bag to hang off the bed to hold your phone, headphones etc. within close reach.

You might want to consider packing various items in different coloured bags so that when you’re in bed, you can ask the nurse/visitor to pass you the “red bag” rather than ask them to rummage around in your bag for whatever it is you want.

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