After Mastectomy – Gift Ideas

I’ve given this list to a few people now, so wanted to provide it here.

  • Ibuprofen, for when prescription meds run out
  • Hydrocortisone creme (every surgery left me itchy)
  • Vitamin E lotion, which supposedly minimizes scarring, skin discoloration
  • Individual alcohol wipes for stripping drains, although hospital may provide plenty
  • Cleansing wipes, for armpits and other areas, when showering is restricted
  • Anything “healing,” like green tea – bags or loose tea and a strainer
  • “Healing gems” by Dogeared jewelry arrive in a sweet package
  • Any shirt, pajamas that open in front.  Or loose stretchy camisoles that are easy to get over her head.  Inexpensive, all-cotton from Target/Walmart works, as there may be blood stains initially.
  • A friend gave me Soma Cool Nights pajamas, and I’ve worn them after every surgery, and then some.
  • For another splurge, I love Barefoot Dreams Bamboo Chic Lite Wrap.
  • Andree’s Essential Soaps, Inc was started by a woman whose mom had cancer.
  • Whole Foods gift card
  • A wedge pillow is a must.  Try Bed, Bath & Beyond or Relax the Back.
  • A small, soft pillow, or a down pillow that can be squished with a soft case.  I used one in between my chest and the seatbelt, also to hold onto when I got out of bed, to remind me not to push up on my arms.  Also, under my arms (for awhile I actually used soft socks under there!) – my armpits got sticky and itchy from always being down, and from the drains.
  • Current magazines, a puzzle book, favorite DVD.  A movie gift card for when she’s ready for an outing.
  • A non-sweat water bottle to remind her to drink a lot of water
  • Food, as she won’t be able to shop or prepare anything for awhile.  Fruit baskets by Edible Arrangements were one of my favorites.  If she’s normally responsible for feeding her family, consider setting up an online Care Calendar and rallying friends to provide meals.  We also received coupons and complete meals from The Dinner A’Fare and Instead of Flowers. So helpful.
  • Arrange to meet her for short walks outside.  You think you can’t get up and about, and it’s hard to find the motivation sometimes, but it really does help.

Also, special belts and camisoles can be purchased to hold surgical drains.  I didn’t use those, though – a friend loaned me hand-made drain bags and shoelaces (to which I pinned my drains during showers).  As I became more mobile, I used a lightweight across-the-body purse to conceal and carry the drains.

If you have any additions, please provide them in the comments.  If it’s your first time commenting on this blog, your comment won’t be visible until I approve it.  Thank you!


Follow-Up with Dr. Woods

2-1/2 weeks after my exchange surgery, Dr. Woods cleared me for physical therapy and the swimming pool.  Next week, I can run with a tight bra and sleep without one.  He wants me to wait another month for “extensive use” of my arms.

Regarding the unevenness, it’s too early to tell if it will get worse – there’s still some swelling and the radiated skin may loosen up.  The fact that I can feel the implants move when I bend or twist sounds like something I’ll have to get used to.  Dr. Woods said that gaining another 10lbs would rectify that, and I’m sure hoping that doesn’t happen.

Finally, he suggested liposuction to fill in the sunken areas above the radiated side and my port scar on the right.  I won’t say never (it would be insurance-covered, after all!), but standing naked in front of someone while he chooses which part of me is fattest?  Torture, plain and simple.

I did laugh when he said, “I haven’t seen your bottom, but…” And then described how you stand with your legs spread and your hands against the wall – the fat is removed – then they turn you over….

I wanted to plug my ears and yell, “Blah, Blah, Blah!” to drown out the rest.

Enough with the plastic surgery talk!  I really like Dr. Woods and highly recommend him.  I just want a break.

We agreed to meet again in late August, after I’ve had some time to live with things as they are.  We’ll talk then about what, if anything, I want to “fix.”


The Important Stuff

Surgery to exchange my tissue expanders for permanent implants is this Friday, but we have WAY more important things to do today.

Like celebrate this young lady’s 9th birthday.

We couldn’t be more proud of our sweet, adventurous, funny girl.
And of ourselves for making it through 9 years of parenthood!

The First 8 Birthdays – where has the time gone?!

Cozying up with Sam and what looks like a dead, furry pink animal,
but is actually PBTeen’s “Fur-rific Lounge Around Pillow.”

Which explains the pink fur that may still be hanging off of Joey’s Brooks Brothers pants at work today.

Memorial Day

School’s out!  Biopsy normal!

Thank you to DeAnn, Danna and the smiling ladies and gentleman in Thursday night’s Zumba class at the MJCAA for letting me sub.  It was special for me to teach there again and I had a blast.

My trail race Saturday morning was more like a hike, but the weather was beautiful and I’d never been on those trails before, which run along the Etowah River and include some fun bridges built by Boy Scouts.

Today, Memorial Day, we’re enjoying our good health and freedom, and thinking about my cousin Mike and others like him.


Welcome to Summer

This time last year, I was in the middle of chemo as our kids celebrated the end of their school year.  I’m grateful that this year I’ve been able to be right in the middle of the craziness.

I think this year I’m more tired :)

Swim team practice in MayThe kids froze through their first swim team practices.
A week later, we are all sweltering.

Indoor Rock ClimbingWe checked out an indoor rock climbing facility intown – very cool!

Geocaching!We spent last weekend (and the weekend before that!) geocaching.

The Tortoise and the HareSam played “the coolest animal in the woods”
in his class play, The Tortoise and the Hare.

Weekly drama class at Red Door PlayhouseAnd a fire-fighting dog at the Red Door Playhouse.

Brownies to JuniorsSara “bridged” from Brownie Girl Scouts to Juniors.

1st grade class portraitsI helped Sam’s class celebrate their truly wonderful teacher.

May 13 - Underwater Portrait, 3rd gradeAnd Sara’s class make underwater portraits.  They are all ready for the pool!

3rd Grade Candy AwardsI went to Sara’s end-of-year party (where she was recognized for being the class peacekeeper),
but sent Joey to her Math Carnival the next day.  I don’t do math.

Cyst on ultrasoundAnd I was stabbed a few times by the folks at Emory.  This is an ultrasound image of one of 3 cysts.  The darkness in the bottom half is my tissue expander (also liquid).  Pathology results in 3-5 days, but I am not worried.  And I had no problems teaching a fun kids’ Zumba class afterward.

The best news of the week?  My cousin powered through a dangerous surgery Monday in his fight against melanoma.  He and his family are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

I’m looking forward to greeting our 3rd and 1st grade graduates at the bus, and teaching my first post-treatment, hour-long Zumba class tonight – with grown-ups!