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Breast Cancer Care blog

Being told you are going to have breast cancer surgery can be overwhelming. Going into hospital for an operation may be a new experience for you.

You can prepare for your admission into hospital by taking a look at our updated booklet Your operation and recovery. It includes tips on what to take with you when you go into hospital, such as comfortable clothes and underwear. Also, information about tests you may need before surgery.

After-effects of surgery

Everyone reacts differently to surgery, but most people recover well with few major side effects. Our booklet Your operation and recovery lists some of the common after-effects from surgery and has practical information on coping.

Some common problems that can occur are pain and discomfort, nausea, bruising and swelling, wound infection, and lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is swelling of the arm, hand or breast/chest area caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. If you'd like information about reducing your risk, see our Reducing the risk of lymphoedema booklet. Talk to your specialist team or breast care nurse if you have any concerns about the after-effects of surgery. 

Recovering from surgery

Once you get home from hospital, you can try to do a little more physical activity each day. You should be able to get back to doing most of your normal activities within a few weeks of your operation, but this will vary from person to person. Pace yourself if you can; for example, by taking up offers of help with shopping, transport, childcare or housework.

Most people experience fatigue at some point during or after their treatment and it can last for weeks or even months. Gentle exercise can help improve your fatigue, even if it feels as though this would be unlikely. For ideas, you can watch the video above or download it from iTunes. You can get more information about coping with fatigue from your breast care nurse, or by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 600 (Text Relay 18001) or using the Ask the Nurse email service.

Download Your operation and recovery or order a free printed copy.

Post date: 18 July 2014

5052 One of our publications Mummy’s Lump has been recognised as an example of current best practice in producing high-quality information about health for children.

The Guide to Producing Health Information for Children and Young People, published today (Friday 18 July), includes our picture book Mummy’s Lump as a case study to support the practical advice offered about detecting gaps in information and creating specialist material.

Experts from NHS England, child psychiatry and children’s literature contributed to the guide, produced by the Patient Information Forum, which aims to help anyone communicating with people about their health to improve what they do.


When published in 2008 Mummy’s Lump was the first UK book to help young children whose mums had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We teamed up with Gillian Forrest, a Consultant Child Psychiatrist, and illustrator Sarah Garson to produce the book, which covers diagnosis, going into hospital, treatments and hair loss.

Research identified that families often were unsure how to talk about the difficult subject of breast cancer, so the aim of the book was to provide a resource to support parents and to help children understand what their mum was going through. The book was also user-tested by both children and parents.

In 2012 we launched a read-aloud iPad, iPhone and iTouch version of it with the help of the Ebook Partnership.

Hundreds of families have found our free book Mummy’s Lump a lifeline in helping them tell young children what’s going on when their mum is diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

Download or order Mummy's Lump now

Find out more about the Patient Information Forum and view a free summary of the guide. 

Post date: 18 July 2014


‘I need someone to talk to.’

‘I can’t stop crying.’

‘I’ve been Googling and seen…’

‘Am I going to be all right?’

‘I knew something serious was wrong.’

‘I can’t believe it; it’s not in the family.’

‘Why has this happened to me?’

Many calls to the Helpline are from people recently diagnosed. They express a wide range of emotions, from shock to a sort of relief.

For some the news is a great shock, perhaps because they’ve had no pain or assumed all was well. But for people who’ve been expecting a serious diagnosis, there can be relief in knowing what it is after waiting and worrying – at least now treatment can start.

There is no right or wrong way to react.

Some people want to find out as much as possible about treatments, results, investigations and the likely outlook of their disease (prognosis). Others don’t want to know any of this but simply want to be treated quickly.

Some will tell all their friends and family, while others prefer to keep it quiet and deal with it in private.

Different callers also say they feel angry, stunned, shocked, fearful, tearful, let down by the system or wonderfully supported by it.

Calling the free Helpline

At the Helpline we:

  • listen
  • offer support
  • explain breast cancer terminology
  • signpost people to evidence-based information online
  • send out free copies and links to our own information resources
  • give people as much time as they need.

We always encourage people to ask questions – both of us and of their medical team. So we often help callers identify questions they might want or need to ask. These will be different for different people at various points in their treatment and recovery.

And because we know that talking with others who’ve had a similar experience can be helpful, we tell people about our online discussion Forum and Live Chat sessions, and our Someone Like Me telephone or email support services.

We’re here to help

We also encourage everyone to ring us again any time they need to – we’re here on 0808 800 6000 so that you and your loved ones don’t have to face breast cancer alone.

Post date: 17 July 2014

Being told you have breast cancer may be one of the most devastating things you’ll ever hear.

The mixture of emotions experienced is as varied as there are people diagnosed. One of our website discussion Forum users, lyndseyloo, said:

‘For some reason I feel so guilty right now (like this is somehow my fault).’


We know that each person is unique and no two people are affected in exactly the same way by their diagnosis. But people also share similarities, and many find that talking with others in the same situation can lessen the sense of isolation that’s reported by so many.

Clarissa81 put it this way:

‘All I seem to have done since [I was diagnosed] is tell people I have cancer. Felt guilty at first for upsetting my friends and family, now I feel numb? Everyone keeps saying sorry and offering help, which is nice, but they don't know and can't really help. That's why I thought I'd join this forum, hopefully to communicate with people in the same boat.’

A safe space

Our Forum offers a safe space where you can talk online to other people going through breast cancer. You can ask and answer questions, and support is offered and received.

It is fully moderated, which means each post is read by our trained staff. First posts from new users are read before they are published. This is how we provide a risk-free environment.

Our nurses are on hand to provide answers to tricky medical questions or issues. Also, our specialist information resources are instantly and freely available via our website. You can download, watch or read booklets, audio files and videos.

The Forum is available 24 hours a day every day of the year. The information and chats can be read by anyone, so we ask everyone to sign in with an anonymous user name. You’ll need to register and sign in to take part in chats and friendships.

Choices and tips

For lyndseyloo, Clarissa81 and thousands of others, the Forum contains a wealth of experience and understanding. For example, there’s a thread where people share about the difficult decisions they’ve taken about surgery; what did and did not work for them, and what they wished they knew before their own began.

And there are lots of discussions about coping with treatment side effects such as the chemotherapy monthly threads and this excellent thread called Top tips to help you get through chemotherapy.

If you’re affected by breast cancer and our Forum seems like a place where you might get inspiration, hope and support, I look forward to welcoming you there.

Join the Forum now

Post date: 14 July 2014

5027 Breast Cancer Care is here so that no one has to face breast cancer alone.

We are the only UK-wide charity providing specialist support and tailored information for anyone affected by breast cancer, being founded in 1973 by Betty Westgate. She knew from her own experience of breast cancer that there was a lack of information and support for women such as her.

Since then we’ve helped thousands of women and their families every year through our information and our growing face-to-face, phone and online services.

We want to do more

But, as much as we’ve grown in the past 40 years, we know we’re still not doing enough. More than 55,000 women are diagnosed every year. We support many of them but people still tell us they wish they’d heard about us earlier.

We don’t want to support just some of the people affected by breast cancer; we want to be there for them all.

Facing breast cancer together is our new strategy to support and engage the 570,000 women and men who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer in the UK, their families, friends, healthcare professionals, employers and others.

Our commitments


In it we commit to:
• being here for you when you need us
• being easy to find and local where possible
• offering you choice about how to use us
• listening and helping you to make your voice heard
• involving you in decisions that affect you

• speaking out for and with you, and raising all our voices together to influence care and treatment of breast cancer
• getting our facts right
• offering training and support to your breast care nurses
• working in partnership with others.

We believe that with your help we can and should be the natural choice for anyone who needs our support or who wants to do something for people affected by breast cancer.

We are stronger together – join us

You can also read more about how we help people affected by breast cancer, and why we rely on you, in our related support leaflet Facing breast cancer together.

Post date: 10 July 2014