Preparing for breast surgery?

Get ready with these practical tips!

Treating (breast) cancer might require surgery or the placement of a catheter. Are you currently facing this process? To prepare yourself mentally and practically for your operation, I'd like to share my personal tips that made things a little bit easier for me when I was in hospital.


Have some distractions in advance

Are you waiting to be admitted? Then you might find your thoughts constantly straying to the hospital. Try to dive into a good book or take an invigorating walk. You can also download a catchy playlist with your favourite songs. By redirecting your thoughts, you're not constantly preoccupied with your operation. Breathing exercises, a relaxing massage and yoga can also help you to relax before the operation.

Are you experiencing a lot of stress before the operation? Don't focus too much on that specific moment, but look to the future. Imagine how the operation will help you to get better, how you'll feel more energetic afterwards and how you'll be showered with love by your family, friends, children.... Plan a quiet but pleasant moment with them for when you recover from the operation. That's something to look forward to.

Do you have small children and don't know how to explain your operation to them? The book ‘Mama’s borst is ziek’ (linken naar EN-versie van de blog Mommy’s got cancer) explains it all at a child's level in a gentle and positive way.


Prepare a bag with all the stuff you need.


Are you sleeping at the hospital the night before? Bring your favourite bag - or give yourself one more gift - and don't forget to bring this stuff to the hospital:

· Your medication and an overview of your medication

· The documents you need, like your identity card and the papers for your health insurance

But also:

· A comfortable pair of pyjamas with buttons in the front

· Your own pillow

· A cosy blanket

· Underwear

· Comfy homewear that make you feel good about yourself

· Slippers

· Toiletries

· A book, your iPad, some light-hearted magazines...

· Your glasses or extra contact lenses (you have to take them off before the operation)

· Don't forget that it's best to remove your nail polish in advance

· The charger for your mobile phone or tablet

Feel free to add some atmosphere to your hospital room with your familiar pillow from home, a cosy blanket, a box of Kleenex, a nice water bottle ... By making it more comfortable for yourself, you automatically feel a little better.


Wear loose clothing

While I was undergoing my own breast cancer treatment, I noticed that it was best to wear loose clothing before an operation or when inserting the catheter. Think of a blouse with buttons and a waistcoat so you can easily get in anywhere.

After surgery it can be painful or have a tight feeling if you have to lift your hands directly above your head. Outfits that need to be pulled over your head should be avoided. Choose a comfortable pair of pyjamas with shirt and pants and buttons at the front so you can be taken care of more easily.

Allow yourself time to recover peacefully

Resting after surgery? Bring a nice sleep mask. It's handy if you're not alone in your hospital room or if it's too light in your room.

Would you rather not have a lot of visitors after your operation or do you want some time to recover first? Don’t bother to give yourself time to recover calmly and surround yourself with the people you really need around you at that moment. The rest of them will definitely be there later!