Top Tips: Hi Everyone. There was... - Breast Cancer Haven

Breast Cancer Haven

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Top Tips


Hi Everyone.

There was recently a request for top tips when managing to live with a diagnosis of breast cancer so I thought I would share mine in the hope they help someone:

Physical wellbeing

Eat high fibre foods to combat constipation but start these two days before chemotherapy; I have tinned prunes for breakfast in juice and that seems enough but you may need more.

Drink plenty of water, not fizzy as that adds to the gastro problems, at least 4 pints a day but try a little more if it doesn't bore you too much.

Cut down on coffee, go decaf or try Bovril or hot water and lemon.

Take a 30 minute walk every day, even if you feel grotty, it helps to keep you fit and is proven to help recovery.

Eat lots of iron rich foods, search out recipes if you aren't a great cook, no excuses as Google is a wonderful tool as are second hand book shops!

Get some ginger biscuits in, they are great for combatting nausea and taste wonderful, especially when taste buds start to disintegrate with chemotherapy.

Find some kind of boiled sweets/mints (sugar free) to take away any metallic taste during chemotherapy; it worked brilliantly for me - Simpkins make good old fashioned round tins of all flavours and I know Waitrose sell them but other supermarkets do too.

Get organised and have snack food to hand in case you cannot tolerate normal meal portions, eat small and regularly. I love a soup recipe for Curried Chicken and Coconut soup, it works out at about £1 a portion and I make it the week before Chemotherapy, freeze it and then get it out as required. I also have some nuts (good for iron). dried apricots and dates (iron and fibre) and Rivita for when I just want something plain.

Buy some good hand and body lotion, your skin can become a little dry and you will need it, Udderly Smooth has been recommended and you can buy it via Amazon; I used Jo Malone unscented and that was pure luxury.

Buy some alcohol gel (the pump type) for your visitors and family, very important in the first week after chemotherapy and it will help reassure you that their hand hygiene is good before they make you a drink or prepare food.

Post Mastectomy I was advised to buy a mastectomy soft bra but to be honest I have found my sports bra much more effective (I am larger breasted and getting anything beyond a DD cup that has any style is near on impossible!).

Do buy some cheap cotton stretch camisole tops (M&S sell them two for £8) as these are invaluable post operation when you cannot lift your arm above your head as you can step into them and pull them up - I used these daily with my pyjamas and still do when needing my surgery area drained from seroma.

Manage your visitors as you do get tired post surgery and during chemotherapy; I did this before surgery by warning them I will be tired so nobody took offence.

Expect to feel tired, this bit surprised me as I am normally full of energy but post surgery I was exhausted for a number of weeks, so don't hurry back to work.

For my mental and emotional well-being I:

Joined a support group, which really helps and doesn't focus on your cancer but getting better, living and laughing. It is about what you can do not what you cannot do.

Don't be proud and stubborn, if you are struggling seek support and speak to a counsellor, you will get through this but it can be hard doing it alone.

Get organised and take control where I can. For example if you are on FEC-T you know your hair is going to fall out so get prepared; this is something you have some control over so make the most of it and take decisions on whether you want to wear a wig, a scarf, a hat or be bald and proud, I chose the latter. You have choices so make them and you will feel better for it.

Had my hair cut short, this is related to previous point of choices and decisions, and it helped prepare me and others for going bald a couple of weeks later. I had my head shaved but found a mobile hairdresser in advance so I didn't have to go into a salon, which made it all easier to do.

Booked into a Look Good, Feel Better session at one of the supporting hospitals where you learn how to apply make-up without looking like a clown; it is free and you are with others in the same situation so end up having a good laugh too.

Go for a walk every day, even a 15 min one will help de-fog the brain and think positively when you are outside, look for small things that make you smile; for me it is seeing a Robin or the leaves on trees turning autumn gold, there is always something to smile about.

Find an indulgence that provides you with comfort, a nice warm bubble bath, a good film, a hot chocolate, a new nail varnish, just something.......

Protect your nails and get OPI nail varnish, this will stop them becoming brittle and splitting. Start with Chip Skip and then apply OPI Nail Envy, they come with instructions and it is clear varnish. I also use cuticle oil daily to do everything I can to keep my nails in a good state and I am no beautician but my friends who are into this girls stuff advised me on this and it is working so far! These will cost you about £50 in total.

Invest in a nice throw or blanket for the sofa, this is great for 'down' days and I use mine regularly in the first week following chemotherapy to snuggle under and sleep whilst watching a film.

Either write your own blog or keep a private journal, I do both. The journal are for my private thoughts and feelings and the Blog for everyone else, it also helps you not to have to keep repeating yourself to those who care and want to understand and support you through this experience.

Let others help you. I am a complete control freak and I like to help others but not so great and accepting help for myself but others want to help, it helps them to and to refuse can be hurtful and to be honest a bit silly because you do need the help at times.

I hope this helps someone.

3 Replies

Hello from the Haven, thank you so much for your trips we will definitely share them with our visitors.

Have a wonderful weekend!


You look great 😀😉😟👍

You look fab x

Thank you so much for posting your top tips, I will certainly be using them xx

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