Care Package Ideas
I do realize that posting this blog from the New York Times is like sending coals to Newcastle, but I think this is an excellent short list of suggested items for a woman undergoing breast surgery. It could get even better if you would add your ideas. What, for example, would you add for the months of chemotherapy or radiation therapy? To share your thoughts (and please do), click on the number after "Comments"
August 18, 2011, 9:00 am Care Package for a Breast Cancer Patient
By TARA PARKER-POPE How do you support a friend or loved one with breast cancer?
Frozen casseroles and offers to shuttle children to activities can be tremendously helpful, but many people want to do more. This weekend I stumbled across one of the best columns I've seen on the topic, written by a 32-year-old woman named Nicole who last summer opted for a prophylactic mastectomy after learning she had the BRCA2 genetic mutation, which put her at high risk for breast cancer.
In her blog, Losing My Boobs, Nicole, who asked that her last name not be used, offered a list of recommendations for women heading to the hospital for breast surgery. It contains a number of great suggestions for anyone wanting to prepare a care package for a woman they know.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Comfy button-front pajamas: The softer the fabric, the better, said Nicole. She couldn't raise her arms after surgery, so she lived in these pajamas for two weeks.
Soft, fuzzy socks: "I was freezing in the hospital all the time," she said.
Dry shampoo: A woman can't shower for days after surgery, but a dry shampoo can lift her spirits. Nicole said she will always be grateful to the friend who gave her a dry shampoo and braided her hair while she was recovering in her hospital bed.
Baby wipes: An important item for the bedside table of any woman stuck in a hospital bed. Lip balm and moisturizer: During her stay in the hospital, Nicole said, she constantly felt parched
and kept her lip balm and moisturizer close at all times.
Mineral water spray: Water sprays, like the brumisateur sold by Evian, can be particularly refreshing.
Mints: A box of Altoids is an essential for a hospital patient who can't get out of bed to brush her teeth in time for visitors, says Nicole.
A battery-powered toothbrush: This gift from a doctor friend was surprisingly useful, said Nicole. Even a movement as small as brushing your teeth is too painful after surgery. "You can't move your arms, so you need something that can do the work for you," she said.
A soft blanket: Work friends gave Nicole a super-soft blanket and pillow from Brookstone, and she treasured it during her hospital stay. "Anything soft is good," she said. "That soft material was so comforting . No position you get in after that kind of surgery is comfortable. You can't move, you can't sleep, so anything that can be the least bit comforting is wonderful."
Entertainment: An iPod or MP3 player loaded with music and a few magazines or books that can be flipped through with minimal effort are a good idea. Nicole said she brought a laptop but never used it "because I felt so terrible, not to mention mentally foggy from all the drugs."
Waxing: Before surgery, a wax treatment, particularly under the arms, is a good idea, said Nicole. With all the tubes and pain, the patient won't be able to shave for a while, so a pre-surgery gift certificate would be a welcome treat.
To learn more about Nicole's experiences, you can read her blog, or follow her on Twitter.
Share Twitter Recommend
Patient Journal, Breast Cancer, breast reconstruction, mastectomy Related Posts From Well
Hit by the Reality of Cancer Treatment The Doctor's Wife in the Chemo Chair