Everyone’s experience of breast cancer and their type of operations will be different. However here are my tips which may be helpful to others;
For the initial few weeks after my left mastectomy I slept on the sofa with a pillow next to my chest. I draped my left arm over the pillow and this made it more comfortable for me to sleep. It is over 20 years since the operation and I still favour sleeping on my right side. The left side becomes uncomfortable and stiff after a while.
My particular cancer treatment forced me to have a chemically induced menopause from the age of 26 which lasted two and a half years. I’m now experiencing my natural menopause and I wish I knew about gel cool pillows back then. I lay the gel cool pillow on top of my standard pillow or I place it inside my pillow case. On particularly warm nights I place it in the fridge for a little while before bedtime because it makes it cooler. When I put mine in the fridge I also put it inside a bag so that it doesn’t end up smelling of the food in the fridge.
I mainly use my gel cool pillow during the summer months. I find mine is fantastic for my night sweats and I truly don’t know what I would do without it.
Here is a link to show you the type of pillow I mean;
Taking time for yourself to relax
I found that I could relax a lot more during this difficult time by lying on the sofa with my eyes closed listening to gentle music. My choice back then was of rain forests and whale music. I would light an incense stick and my candles to create a relaxing ambience. In the last couple of years I have taken this a step further by doing regular meditation and yoga.
For more information take a look at my aromatherapy post;
Using a wash puff is a gentle way of cleansing the area after the operation. Personally my mastectomy scar and surrounding area still remains tender over twenty years later. Therefore I continue with washing this way to this day.
Some body areas will be more sensitive to wearing a bra after the operation. I find that I am often sore where the bra band goes under my missing breast, even leaving blisters at times. To help with this I found that a spray on plaster may help to relieve the irritation. Although what worked remarkably well for myself was dabbing on a anti foot blister solution. I used Avon’s Foot Works foot solution. Unfortunately Avon no longer produces this but you may be able to find a suitable alternative. If you do please let me know in the comments section below.
Where my bra straps go over my shoulders is also a problem. The breast forms can seem heavy and make the bra straps cut into the top of my shoulders. Another disadvantage of these heavy breast forms are that they quickly stretch the elastic of my bra straps and I end up buying new ones often. With the expensive cost of mastectomy bras this is a major downside.
There are specially made plastic inserts available for bra straps. They can be placed where your bra strap and shoulders meet which can relieve the strain on your shoulders.
My favourite mastectomy bra at the moment is Nicola Jane’s padded bra. Being padded the bra hides many sins and when I’m dressed I can’t see any differences in the shape of the real or false breast. I also love that you can change the straps for clear ones or cross them over at the back. This is the one I wear;
I find it fantastic to wear a “swim form” prosthesis option for everyday wear. The swim forms are also made of silicone and shaped to your natural breast shape, but they are hollowed out at the back making them much lighter. There are also foam options available but personally I find these too light and they constantly ride up. Even with these lighter options available I often can’t wait to take off my bra and prosthesis. I put on my favourite item of clothing which is a soft squishy dressing gown and hides the fact I only have one breast.
Personally I also love the padded mastectomy bras. I find these give you a much more even shape, they hide many sins. I have two favourite online mastectomy outlets that I like to use these are Nicola Jane and Amoena.
Nicola Jane’s website is;
Amoena’s website is;
I have over 20 years experience of living with a mastectomy. If I can help you with any questions you may have please do not hesitate to send me a message..
If you found this post interesting take a look at my breast cancer and radiotherapy story;
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