Recovery from breast cancer treatment involves both physical and mental healing. For most women, it is an emotional journey as it is quite tough to adapt to the new changes and lifestyle modifications after breast cancer surgery. In case of a lumpectomy, recovery is quite fast and uneventful but mastectomies are more complicated and need at least 3-4 weeks to get back the normal energy levels.
But healthy recovery without any unforeseen events is what you would look for which is achievable with the help of following tips. These should be tried only after being approved by the doctor.
- Move your arm:
Just remaining idle for hours after the operation is not good for your mental or physical health. On the other hand, it ups your risk for deep vein thrombosis which can give rise to embolism in lungs, a life-threatening condition. It is important you try gently moving your arm to the side where mastectomy is done.
Try to use your arm normally for your regular activities like combing hair, dressing up, bathing and eating. While lying down, raise your arm above your heart and keep it for 45 minutes. Practice this exercise 2-3 times a day.
Keeping the arm raised, close and open your hands for 15-25 times without causing any discomfort. Try to bend and straighten your elbow. Practice this exercise 3-4 times a day. This would help in reducing the swelling by draining out the accumulated lymphatic fluid.
- Manage your pain:
The pain would persist for few more days post operation which may turn out be severe at nights. Your doctor will prescribe some painkillers. Make sure to keep them handy so that you need not hunt for those especially when required.
- Check your drains:
In case of mastectomy, the surgeon is likely to install hoses to drain out the fluids to prevent swelling around the operated area. You need to check the fluid drainage regularly and report to the surgeon who will take out the drains at proper time which is normally after 1-2 weeks of operation.
- Be enthusiastic about participating in a wellness plan:
Develop a wellness plan with the help your care team that would take care of your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. You can include counselors in the team to meet your social and spiritual wellness and set yourself to a speedy recovery track. You may need to consult several providers if there are too many side effects to manage.
- Communicate with your doctor and care team often:
It is very important to assess your recovery. Never hesitate to report any side effect or problem that you would be facing post breast cancer surgery. You may be experiencing tightness in chest muscles, sleep disturbances or extreme fatigue. Your care team should be aware of these issues and suggest proper ways of recovery.
- Practice deep breathing exercises:
Lie down and take a deep breath slowly. Inhale as much air as you can and expand your chest and abdomen. Breathe out gently. Repeat this step 4-5 times. This would enable normal functioning of your chest muscles and lungs. Do breathing exercises at least 6 times a day.
- Manage your menopausal symptoms:
Breast cancer can cause menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flush, mood swings and weight gain which are likely to affect your daily activities. You need to be in touch with your GP to manage these symptoms.
- Maintain a record of your fatigue:
Dealing with fatigue is quite common while recovering from breast cancer treatment. Maintain a record of your fatigue giving a rating within the scale 1-10 to determine the level of energy you are maintaining throughout the day.
- Practice mindfulness:
While on breast cancer treatment, lots of worries regarding your future may disturb your mind. Practicing mindfulness would help in maintaining your focus to the present activities to be done to speed up your recovery. You can use a mindfulness app or take guidance from a professional to improve your mental well being.
- Follow a nutritious and healthy diet plan:
This is a must to quicken your recovery from breast cancer treatment. A nutritious diet would help you regain your energy faster. Consult a dietician to chalk out the right diet plan for you. Fresh vegetables, fruits and grains are recommended to maintain your energy and body weight. Quit smoking and limit your drinking.