Things to Prepare: Master List for Prophylactic Bilateral Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

…That was a mouthful! Anyways, I have read through a ton of lists of current and former patients who have undergone mastectomies, both prophylactic and.. well.. necessary! Despite the fact that my surgery is still two weeks away from today, I am trying to dot my “i’s” and cross all my “t’s”, since my OCD is in full effect. I thought this may be helpful for someone who is about to undergo this procedure, or thinking about it. Making lists eases my anxiety. And again, my anxiety can get pretty out-of-hand. So, as I mentioned, I have several lists. Here is my official “PBM Prepper List”

  • 2 Small Ice Packs with the Little Mermaid on them – Got them on Amazon & heard Target has them as well. They are seashell-shaped and her perfect chest glaring back at me with that seashell “bathing suit top” is a positive totem.
  • Over-sized button down shirts. Now I’m normally a size Large so I got some men’s size XL and 2X, and went to a local thrift shop and grabbed some light-weight women’s 2X Old Navy Button Down shirts, almost made of light cotton or organza. $3 and I can wash them a couple of times to be on the safe side. However, as my good friend J would say, “Boob Juice” will probably get on them!
  • Small heart-shaped pillows, with a rounded “V” section at the top for each arm-pit. They sell them for like $18-$20 a piece, but after shipping, you’re looking at a pretty penny. And let’s face it girls, we have enough expenses thanks to our lovely mutated DNA. In all my resourcefulness, I finally realized my good friend J, master crafter, not to mention master horticulturist, can sew! If I gave her a little more that two week’s notice, perhaps I would end up with a machine-sewn version, with fancy crochet work overlay, with little pink ribbons and zombie-print fabric, but I told her at the last minute and she still agreed to whip some up with whatever she had lying around. She is already making the 2nd set, again due to her theory of the “juices”. I am super grateful for her support and I will forever be indebted to her for her hard work! (…that good, J?)
  • Plastic Cup with Lid & Straw. Yes, an adult sippy cup, if you will. My mom got one at CVS in the Valentine’s Day stuff. It’s like double-walled and insulated. I guess these come in handy when you’re all hopped up on opiate pain medication and waving your hands in the air, like you just don’t care, while simultaneously sipping on gin and juice ginger ale. Either way, it will keep your ice from melting too quickly and it will keep you hydrated. I may hit up Walmart and invest in a second or even third one, since washing dishes will not be on the top of my priority list.
  • Ottoman and comfortable armchair or recliner. I sold two of my grandmother’s recliners before this whole thing. I have an armchair and my co-worker, Li, is letting me use an ottoman she had from one of those glider chairs you get for your baby shower. Sweet. I heard I’ll most likely want to be sitting up to sleep, since laying down and getting back up isn’t going to be fun, especially since my 6-pack is more like a keg these days.
  • Pillows, Pillow, Pillows. I have a lot of pillows to stay propped up on the couch, etc. I will bring one with me to cushion me in the car, and some people use one between themselves and their seatbelt. Use a damn stuffed animal. Hell, don’t wear a seatbelt at all, since you just had your boobies cut off! I’m sure the officer will understand… Maybe… And also I will be getting a large wedge shaped pillow a friend ordered me! (Thanks again!!)
  • Other clothing: I highly recommend Old Navy Sweatpants. Not only are they fleecy on the inside, they wash nice, they tie, they are even long enough to accommodate my killer long legs without shrinking up into high waters. I have like 4 pairs now. Also, hit up KMart or Target or JCPenney and grab some button-down pajama sets that are lighter fabric. Something tells me flannel will be annoying, but whatever you like! Get some comfy slippers, I bought some new Orthaheel Slippers from, since I have Plantar Fasciitis, I need the arch support. I have a few pairs and will probably wear those to the hospital too, rather than fussing with sneakers. I heard that Hanes Men’s “wife-beater” Tank Tops/Undershirts are great too, since the armpit holes are larger to accommodate the drains. (Another trip to Walmart is in order!) I also ordered a front zip sports bra from the clearance on Victoria’s Secret’s website. It was less than $20 and it’s pink, black, and sparkly silver. Seemed flashy and appropriate for my next opiate-induced concert I’ll be putting on.
  • Post-Surgical Bras and Camisoles. Pshhh… The surgeon wrote me a prescription for two of each of these. I had to go downtown (which I hate) to this “lingerie store” and try them on. They said “sure, your insurance will cover them”. Well they only covered half of the cost and they’re non-returnable. Got the $80 bill in the mail yesterday. Watch me use one or the other one time. They seemed uncomfortable honestly, but we’ll see, since they do accommodate the drains properly. Don’t go buying them before you find out if your insurance covers them either! I nearly made that mistake and some run up to $120 a piece for the camisoles! Rip off!!!
  • Dry Shampoo. I’ve never used it. I’ve heard mixed reviews. Luckily, my cousins own a salon, so maybe I can get driven there to have my hair washed. I can go like 2-4 days tops before I feel like a grease ball. We’ll see!
  • Electric Razor/Trimmer. I ordered one for $8 on It’s Clio brand and it seems ok for the price. It’s going to suck to not be able to shave my armpits. Luckily my mother and friend/co-worker El said they would both shave my armpits if necessary. I normally use the Schick Intuition Razor and will try to shave everything the morning before so that I am as hairless as can be for my surgery.
  • Crest Spinbrush Toothbrush. Or any other electric toothbrush, I just prefer this one and it’s relatively inexpensive. Does most of the work for you – take this to the hospital with you too!
  • Face Wipes & ‘Other Wipes’. Wipe that week-long sludge off your mug since you haven’t showered in 6 days. Heck, get wipes for both ends. You’ll need them! I’ve heard baby wipes work well, but I got some Playtex Feminine Wipes from; sometimes Walmart or other stores have them as well.
  • A bag to pack for the hospital: Don’t over-pack and bunch of nonsense. Bring a change of clothes (button-down PJ’s come in handy here since you can wear them home too) and some clean underwear and socks. Cough Drops– I got the Halls Fruit Breezers ones, since being intubated may scratch up your throat. Also have popsicles at home for this reason. I recommend the natural fruit ones, can’t think of the name though. Cell phone & Charger; separate camera if you’re feeling photogenic I guess. Maybe a stuffed animal, good luck charm, or your first love’s chewed bubble gum in a ziploc baggie you’ve held on to since second grade. Or wait, maybe not everyone has that lying around, but you know what I mean – your favorite belly-jeweled neon-haired plastic troll doll that you certainly believe holds special healing powers. Something to get you through and make you smile after you come out of your anesthesia come and you mom wants to wiggle something in front of your face to make sure you weren’t abducted by aliens on the operating table. Some chapstick or lipstick to keep your mouth moisturized. No one likes dry lips! Just Skip the Nailpolish, yes on your fingers and toes. It may be an old-time policy, but take that “I’m Not Really a Waitress” OPI color off your digits! They may need to eyeball your circulation or something.

I will be adding more, but unfortunately I have to do some work… Since I’m at WORK! So… yea.. I’ll post more later!! Happy Reading!



Just wanted to add a few links to some other LISTS! Links to lists! Links to lists! Thanks to my obsessive nature, I have read many lists and I’m sure you will too! Hey, it’s better to get a few different perspectives on things before making your own list(s). I am an unmarried 27-year-old without children or pets, so therefore, if you have children (or pets) (or children that act like pets) (or pets that you see as your children) your list may have a number of different needs than mine. Here are some I have found and I will continue to add/edit my own:

This one from “Saying NOPE to Breast Cancer” is very thorough and contains before and after surgery info: This lady is AWESOME by the way!!!

The list from FORCE:

A prep guide and checklist from MyDestiny as well: (thanks SNTBC!)

2 thoughts on “Things to Prepare: Master List for Prophylactic Bilateral Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

  1. I enjoyed reading this article and am brca2..I will be having my surgery 3-26-13. bilat masectomy with reconstruction and nipple sparing. Seems like we have a lot in common. much luck to you!

    • Hey Amanda! It’s a rocky road, but just be prepared before you go in! It makes everything SO much easier. Please make sure you have a strong willed person who will be taking care of you. And that person needs a strong stomach and know how to handle you on medication. I went today and got all my bandages, wraps, etc. off. Much of my chest is numb and I don’t think the drains are AS nightmarish as everyone makes you think. They’re tolerable. Just have a lot of comfy button downs for sure. I am sleeping and eating a lot, and bitching and moaning a little bit in between. Some shows are too funny and some people are too funny- you’ll feel like you’re tearing your stitches right open when you laugh, but I don’t think I truly have. Just stay positive! A million people will be praying for you! Whether its your thing or not, I guarantee its helping me at least! Good luck Amanda, and if you have any questions, fears, concerns, please do not hesitate to ask me! Oh! And write things down, questions for the doctors, etc. because you can get pretty unfocused at times, at least I did. Thanks for reading!! 😀

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