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Dear Cancer,


Love, Vanessa


10 Tips to help Prepare you for Surgery

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

For more content, follow me on Instagram! @dearcancer

Dear Cancer,

You’ve really made me go through hell. I’ve had four surgeries and have been patently waiting for surgery number five to take place. Last week, I got a phone call from my surgeon’s office. The receptionist asked me if I was able to go in for surgery the following week. I was so excited, because this is hopefully fingers crossed my last surgery!!

Of course, I said yes when she asked if I was available. I literally hung up the phone and screamed out loud with excitement. I’m so ready to get this surgery over and done with! I immediately told my husband and close family members right away. I was so ready for it-- but suddenly, reality set in and I realized I have quite a few things to do to prepare and not much time to do it. As I spend my time preparing for my upcoming surgery, I want to share with you a few tips to help you better prepare for any upcoming surgeries you may have.

Tip #1

Do a big grocery shop! For me, this includes a stop at both Fortinos and Costco. At Costco, I like to grab some fish, chicken, crackers, snacks and anything I’m running low on and may need within the month. Then, closer to my surgery, I will grab a ton of produce from Fortinos. A friend told me recently about an app you can use- you order online and then get everything delivered to you, while you sit in your car! To me, this sounds like a dream come true. I’m planning to try it this week because I feel like time is running out before my surgery. I know my husband or family can easily go out and grab me something if we needed it, but I personally just feel much better knowing that I got most of what we need for the next little while (and that we won’t starve!)

Tip #2

Fill prescriptions. If you take daily medication, I suggest you have your prescriptions filled so that you don’t have to worry about running out when you are at home recovering. This is something that can easily be done ahead of time and you won’t need to worry about it while you are recuperating.

Tip #3

Pack your hospital bag. I always like to bring a bag whether I’m staying overnight or not. You never know what you may need and you will find that having a few key essentials after your surgery will make you a lot more comfortable. A few things I like to pack are extra clothes, a housecoat, slippers, a book, my iPad, my health card (very important!), a list of my medications, my glasses, gum and chapstick. I promise you will not be sorry for bringing chapstick- surgery can be very drying on the lips and you will get that sweet sweet relief you will crave.

If you do end up staying overnight, be sure to bring insurance information with you (in case you are eligible for a semi-private or private room—trust me, if you can get one of these rooms, you will be extremely glad.) You may have other things on your list, but I do well with these things in my bag!

Tip #4

Continue to eat healthy and exercise. You might be tempted to eat all of your favourite junk foods before surgery, but try not to go overboard and overindulge. Your body needs to be strong and ready to heal from surgery, so try to eat as best as you can right up until the day before surgery. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I exercise on a regular basis, so I try to exercise regularly until the day before surgery. This is important, especially if you will be having a surgery where you need significant recovery time and have some restrictions for some time. This is also a great tool to help with any stress or anxiety you may be feeling about the surgery you will be having!

Tip #5

Stay away from germs. The last thing you want to do is get sick and have to reschedule your surgery. Carry sanitizer with you and use it religiously before, during and after touching things. Grocery carts and gas pumps can be extremely germy places! You should always use sanitizer after touching those things. And of course, try your best to stay away from others who are sick. Sometimes this might be impossible, so when you are around people that are sick, wash your hands often and try to cover your nose and mouth with a mask if at all possible. If you can though, your best bet is simply to keep your distance. I’m sure you want to get your surgery over and done with, so try to stay well!

Tip # 6

Get some rest. You may be working or have to work up until the day before surgery (which I am, boo!) but try to get to bed as early as possible. The more rest you get, the stronger your body will be in order to recover.

Tip # 7

Have some fun. Depending on recovery time, you might be stuck at home for a while. I suggest you dress up and go out for dinner with your significant other and/or friends. It might be a while before you can do this again, and we all deserve to have some fun every now and then! Keeping yourself as busy as possible will also be a good distraction for what’s to come. If you are anything like me, I worry a lot and easily get lost in my thoughts.

Tip #8

Clean your house. With any surgery, there are typically restrictions on what you can and can’t do afterwards. With my upcoming surgery, I won’t be able to lift anything over a few pounds for six weeks. This means no vacuuming or washing the floors for me (wahoo!) Luckily, my husband will be cleaning our house for the next little while (with some reminders from me of course—ha ha!) but I like to know that I did a really good clean before I’m out of commission. Maybe it’s my A-type personality, but knowing my house will be clean for a while puts me at ease.

Tip #9

Pamper yourself. If you have time, do some shopping, go out for a facial or even a massage. Heck, do all three if you can! You deserve some ‘me time’ and these are three things that I definitely enjoy. I get massages regularly (I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders) so I will be going for a treatment right before I’m stuck lying around in my house for a while. Hopefully it will help loosen up and relax my muscles. I also am restricted from having massages for a while as well, so that’s why I’m planning to go.

Tip #10

Be sure to let all of your family members know about your upcoming surgery. You don’t want to keep those that care for you in the dark. I am so lucky that I have family members who will come with me on the day of my surgery, so obviously they need to know if they have to book time off of work, and will need to do that ahead of time. I also have family that helps me out in different ways like by cooking, cleaning, and taking me to appointments that I may not be able to drive to. Again, time is needed for any caregivers to make arrangements.

I hope these suggestions will help make your surgery a little less stressful and a little more bearable. Remember to breathe, try to relax and know that it will soon be over and you will be able to move forward with your life. For me, this last one means that I get to close the chapter on my breast cancer and start my new one, healthy, happy and whole again. Good luck and God bless!



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