The Gifts We Know Mean so Much after Breast Reconstruction

In Breast Cancer, Dealing with Medical Industry Issues by Guest Blogger

Guest Blog By: Terri Coutee – DiepCjourney Blog – tgcoutee@gmail.com

Each weekday morning, I wake up, fix coffee, and sit at the computer in my office. I open Facebook and read the comments on the DiepCjourney private page I started and admin. Questions are answered, members share resources, and it  feels like a warm place to start my morning. Recently, I posted this infographic asking members, “What would you add to this list”? These are the gifts we know mean so much after breast reconstruction.

“My recovery was enhanced by those surrounding me with their love and friendship after I traveled for my DIEP flap surgery.Terri Coutee

Insights for Gifts from the Heart after Breast Reconstruction Surgery

These ideas are taken directly from the comments members of the Journey willingly shared. They showed extreme gratitude for those who gave their time and treasure to these ladies when they were recovering from surgery and undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

  • Listened, listened, listened. Have space for all the feelings.
  • The best gift I got from people was grace…grace for forgotten meetings, grace for bad moods, grace for not returning calls or texts.
  • Homemade bakes, meals delivered to the door, respected no visitors for a while.
  • Neighbors taking my daughter on their outings, said daughter spontaneously making me pancake breakfast, my husband watering my outdoor plants so they don’t die, short visits from friends whenever needed. Just feeling love.
  • The best thing was something I started for myself. I started several group chats with friends. (I might add this gal started these chats with people all over the world and family friends from childhood).
  • My sister reached out to friends of mine and asked them to write a fun memory, note of encouragement, or any positive comments. She collected them all and put them in a cardboard mailbox. Each morning, after being exhausted from a shower I would take out one of these notes and be encouraged. Some people put pictures or a little inexpensive gift. The idea was one per day, but I had a few days where I needed to put out two or three notes and read them. Best gift ever!

Ideas for the Gift of Time and Treasure

When you give both your time and from your wallet, it can make a huge difference in recovery and easing the time spent waiting to get back to your daily routine. Here are other ideas from the group.

  • A friend of mine did laundry for the first three weeks. That was a great gift!
  • Oh my, so many wonderful friends did for me from dinners to driving me to chemo, calls to chat, walk the dog, but the single greatest gift was my very close friend, who is a surgical recovery room RN traveled to Florida from Boston and stayed with me for a week after my DIEP. It gave my husband a break and gave us both peace that someone experienced with complications was there 24/7.
  • I came home from a test at the hospital, perhaps one of the biopsies, to find a basket on my front step with flowers and six still warm, freshly baked scones. I didn’t find out who gave me this until a few weeks later but did it ever lift my spirits!
  • I got some cards at the very beginning and they meant a lot to me. My best friend sends flowers and gift boxes of baked goods, which is really nice. I think the gas cards and food-related items would have been really useful.
  • My sister sent me a shower chair right before DIEP and lots of scarves and soft caps during my chemo.
  • I was “lucky” enough to have my chemo and radiation (forty-minute drive each way) before the gas prices skyrocketed, and even then it was expensive. That didn’t even count multiple visits to see my surgeons for pre- and post-op and expander fills. They were even further away (90 miles each way, plus tolls and parking). I think gas cards would be great for someone going through treatment.
  • I got a couple of gift cards, like Uber Eats, for food delivery. Since my diagnosis and surgery were during the pandemic, I had lots of people texting during my long recovery t let me know there were thinking about me. My swim team also made a wonderful video of a swim practice dedicated to me, with taped messages, pink sim suits, and pink fins.
  • Best things were handwritten notes – I loved them all – and kept them all. Also, meals were huge as it was hard to keep my appetite up. And not listed, were rides to and from the doctor – something I am glad to do for others now.
  • Yes! Offer of a lift somewhere is good. I could not drive for six weeks.

My Favorite Gifts after my DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Last and certainly not least, my recovery was enhanced by those surrounding me with their love and friendship after I traveled for my DIEP flap surgery. Mom and Dad wanted to drive ten hours to the city where I had my reconstruction. I was concerned about the trip, the traffic, and their own safety so I insisted on a different type of giving. They purchased a gift certificate for house cleaning for me after surgery. I loved it! My best friend also flew to the help me giving my husband the freedom to return home to work after he stayed the first week. She is a gourmet cook. I felt spoiled rotten. I received those wonderful texts, cards, phone calls, and visits only when I was ready.

Now one of my favorite ways to share these ideas is to ask those who have been there to share the gifts we know mean so much after breast reconstruction. Thank you Journey Strong! You are simple the best!

Disclaimer

References made to my surgical group, surgeon and healthcare team are made because they are aligned with my values and met my criterion after I did research of their practices and success rates. Any other healthcare provider that displays the same skill, compassion education and outreach to patients will be given consideration and recognition on this website.  The information contained on this website is not a substitute for or should be construed as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician for medical advice.