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Dear Cancer,


Love, Vanessa


Surgery Recovery: Relax, Take it Easy

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

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Dear Cancer,

These past 2 years I've had quite a few surgeries. With any cancer diagnosis, there is most likely a surgery that will go along with it. This is not always the case, but it happens more often than not. With my breast cancer diagnosis, I have had a total of five surgeries. Some days I can't believe it, but yes it's true. I would say that my recovery for all surgeries have been quite different. Some surgeries were definitely tougher than others, which meant a long challenging recovery at times. However difficult or easy the recovery may be, here are a few suggestions I have for you to help make it through this time. I just had surgery number five 3 weeks ago, so here are some things I really tried to do to help myself in the recovery process.

Don’t Overdo It

Whatever the surgery might be, your body just went through a lot. I’m sure you were given anesthesia to put you to sleep and probably a ton of pain medications, not to mention the actual surgery and what was done to your body. Presumably, your body went through a shock and needs time to heal. Remind yourself of this and truly take this time to recover. Enjoy this time at home alone and with your loved ones. You owe it to your beautiful and strong body!

When your body goes through surgery, it can be quite a shock to the body. Some recoveries take longer than expected, and that’s okay. It is by no means your fault. Take your time and be careful. If you want your body to heal properly, then take good care of it. If you are struggling, it’s okay. We all recover differently. If you are not where you think you should be, it’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your body is so amazing, but sometimes it takes longer to heal than expected. Listen to your body and take it easy. You will get through this!

Do What You Enjoy

If you’re tired, and don’t feel like getting out of bed, that’s okay. If you want to watch Handmaid’s Tale all day long, do it (trust me--I’ve done a lot of that lately! I am only slightly obsessed…) If you love donuts or some other tasty treat, ask someone to pick them up for you and enjoy them without feeling guilty. During recovery, you have the right to be a little selfish. This time is for you to relax, recover and get better and let your body get back to fighting fit. Doing some simple things you love during this time, can make it a little more enjoyable and a little easier to bear. Don’t ever feel guilty. Remember, your body has been through a lot, it deserves the break.

Ask For Help

Asking for help can be a hard thing to do. The first few days after surgery this time around were quite tough for me. I wasn’t really able to do much. Things like pouring myself water, heating up soup on the stove and even opening lids to pain medication bottles were a challenge. Fortunately, I had my husband and close family over here helping me do these things. I truly appreciate all that they do for me, especially during my times of need.

Even though you might feel like you don’t want to be a burden or a bother, make sure you ask for help. Family and friends will understand that some things are difficult and would love to be there for you in a time of need. Family and friends can be left feeling helpless when a loved one is sick and it is good to let them help. It makes them feel better knowing that they were able to support you in your journey, even if it just means throwing in a load of laundry or keeping you company while binge watching The Handmaid’s Tale. Did I mention I’m really into that show right now?? Cuz I am. Max Minghella or Elisabeth Moss, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t say no to a walk-on role ;)

Check In With Family And Friends

You don’t need to text or call your family and friends the second you wake up from the anesthesia, but you can ask your partner or parents to let others know how things are going. Then, when you are up to it, reach out to your close friends and family and let them know how you are doing yourself. They will love hearing from you, and will definitely appreciate the update. When you are feeling up to it, feel free to invite your people over. It’s always nice to have company and I’m sure people will be glad to visit. It can really brighten what can be an otherwise very boring, tedious time. Plus, it might help you take your mind off of things for a little while. The mental break you can get from having visitors will go a long way to keeping your mind and spirit healthy as you forge on with recovery and treatment.

If You Have Any Concerns, Reach Out To Your Doctor

If you notice something that doesn’t look right, if you are feeling really off, or have a question, make sure to reach out to your doctor. I had a concern about my recent surgery, and thankfully have been given my doctor’s email address. I am so lucky that he answers so quickly! He asked me to come in to see him the next day and he was able to address my concern and alleviate my fears. Do not feel that you are being annoying, or bothersome; your doctor is there to help. Leave a message and hopefully your doctor will get back to you as soon as possible. If you feel that you have a serious problem, be sure to go to the nearest emergency to get checked. Remember, you are your own best advocate. You can never be too sure about anything, so when in doubt, get checked. Be proactive, and look out for number one (yes that’s you!)

Be Patient, Time Will Fly By

The first few days after surgery might feel like an eternity and that you will never feel better, but hang in there. The days may seem long. Being stuck at home can be nice at first (hello no makeup and sweatpants!), but can get boring after a while. Try to be patient. The weeks will go by fast though, I swear. Before you know it, you will be out and about again, and you will forget about the time you were stuck at home after surgery. Give yourself all the rest you need to recover so that you can get back to normal.

Listen To The Doctor’s Orders

For my most recent surgery, I was told that I am not able to lift anything over five pounds or go and exercise at the gym. This has been quite tough for me this time around. I’m feeling pretty great after this surgery and I feel like I can almost do anything. There have been a few times where I caught myself lifting something heavier than five pounds and had to stop. I need to constantly remind myself to listen because obviously there is a reason why my doctor told me about these restrictions and I need to stick to them. I don’t want any problems with recovery! I’ve also been feeling quite bored and would love to go to the gym to exercise. But again, I will obviously listen to my doctor’s orders and wait until the six week mark. I don’t want to take any chances and get injured, so my advice to you is to really listen to your doctor and heed their advice. I would much rather heal up the first time and not have to repeat any surgery, thanks!

I hope these suggestions were helpful to you! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!



This is me visiting the Waterford House from The Handmaid's Tale during my recovery after an appointment nearby!!! Did I mention I love this show?!

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