Preparing for a double mastectomy surgery from a cancer survivor's perspective.
This blog is a part of a series written by a local breast cancer survivor, Rui Sasaki.
Click here for other articles in the series.
Part 4: Surgery
Please follow ALL instructions given to you by your surgeons! I know it’s stressful and scary. Prior to my diagnosis, I had not had any major illness, surgery, accidents, or broken bone in my body. So having major surgery and going under anesthesia was definitely very scary.
Try and get as much rest as possible, exercise, and eat well. The stronger your body before going through surgery, the better your outcome.
About 2-3 weeks before surgery, I focused on my body being as healthy as it could be. I also stopped going to the beach since you want your skin to be healthy before being cut. And I also stopped drinking alcohol.
The day before surgery I believe the instructions they give you tell you to stop eating and to stop drinking fluids at certain times. Please follow the instructions!! If you have food or liquids in your stomach it is dangerous to undergo anesthesia. You will be hungry and thirsty. I think this was one of the worst parts of waiting for surgery.
I had surgery in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic started. So my boyfriend could come with me to the hospital which was a nice distraction.
Don’t wear jewelry and don’t bring valuables. Bring some chapstick - it’s dry in the hospital. Bring all your paperwork and medicines with you (put them in a zip lock bag).
You check in with an intake nurse who asks you a TON of questions including what procedure you are having done. The surgeons will come in and mark and sign on your body. Make sure they are marking the correct breast (in my case, the left breast had cancer)! I had a friend (not in HI) whose doctor marked the wrong side of her body and she had to correct them.
A nurse will come and insert an IV into your arm and give you IV fluids. They will also probably take samples of your blood to run some tests. Other nurses who are in the operating room may come and talk to you. And the anesthesiologist will also come and talk to you. Yeah - it’s a lot. Don’t stress, all this will happen and they are all professionals!
Eventually, they will cart you away into the surgery prep area. At this point whoever you came with will have to say goodbye and you will be on your own with the doctors and nurses. But they won’t keep you waiting alone for too long. As soon as you get to the surgery room they will have you move from the bed to the surgical table. And then the anesthesiologist will come over and put you to sleep. I didn’t even get to count down - it all happened really quickly.
The views and opinions of our blog writers represent their personal views and opinions and not those of Breast Cancer Hawaii. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to share their personal experiences. Do not rely on this information as a substitute for a professional's medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.
Rui Sasaki is a breast cancer survivor and volunteer with Breast Cancer Hawaii. She got involved with the organization hoping to help women in Hawaii by sharing her cancer journey. She also just accepted a position working for a medical group on Oahu and hopes to do better for the community.