Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What You Can Do for a Friend with Breast Cancer

On The New York Times Well blog, we found this list of things that can help make suffering through breast cancer just a little more tolerable. It was compiled by a woman who had a mastectomy because of a genetic mutation putting her at high risk for breast cancer.

She suggests well-wishers include these things in care packages for women about to undergo breast surgery:
  • Comfy button-front pajamas: The softer the fabric, the better.
  • Soft, fuzzy socks: Hospitals get mighty cold.
  • Dry shampoo: When patients can't shower for days after surgery, dry shampoo and a friend to touch up their hair can be a real spirit-lifter.
  • Baby wipes: Nicole says they're "an important item for the bedside table of any woman stuck in a hospital bed."
  • Lip balm and moisturizer: Hospitals also tend to breed dry lips.
  • Mineral water spray: It's refreshing.
  • Mints: When you can't get up to brush your teeth, you can at least pop a mint in when a visitor drops by.
  • A battery-powered toothbrush: Nicole says even brushing teeth is painful: You can't move your arms, so you need something that can do the work for you.
  • A soft blanket: Anything soft is good. 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 with music, magazines or books. A laptop can be diverting, but sometimes patients feel terrible and mentally foggy from all the drugs.
  • Waxing: A pre-surgery gift certificate for an underarm wax treatment is nice, since it's so hard to shave after surgery.
Even a card once a week or so after the patient returns home from the hospital is a welcome surprise. Days get long and lonely. That walk out to the mailbox for a kind note that says "I care" can bring sunshine to a dismal day.

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