Once you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a lot of questions to ask your doctor about your diagnosis, treatments and surgery. But your doctor may not be able to answer all of your questions. For some things you need to know — say what you should bring to the hospital and what to wear home — it’s best to hear advice from those who have been in your shoes — other breast cancer sisters.

What should I pack?

The key to a comfortable recovery begins with what you pack for your hospital stay. In an online breast cancer support group, Benita asks her sisters what she should pack in her bag to take with her during chemo treatments. Sofia tells her, “healthy snacks, something to read, or simply enjoy that time for yourself.” Kelly added, “Bring a cozy throw, a cellphone charger, snacks, reading material and maybe some letter writing material.”

In another thread, Brenda asks what she should bring to the hospital for her mastectomy. Misty and many others agree that button up shirts, a bathrobe and baggy pants are very helpful. Here’s our checklist for things you’ll need to bring along for breast reconstruction surgery, as well as some suggestions for items that will offer you comfort during your visit. Keep in mind that you may have surgical drains, dressings, and tender incisions, so comfort should be your top priority. Since you will be staying overnight in the hospital, you should also bring some comforts from home, including your favorite music, novels or magazines and a small pillow. For the rest of our post on what you need, click here.

I’m just not feeling like my old self now. Any advice?

When you look in the mirror, it might be difficult to see the changes since your surgery. For some patients that’s hard to handle. Just remember that “Beauty is more than skin deep,” but it can be hard to feel beautiful and have a positive body image. We here at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction want to remind you that no matter what has happened in your life, you are a strong, powerful, and beautiful woman. We hope you don’t ever forget the following qualities that make you beautiful both inside and out — personality, positivity, gifts and talents, and relationships. For more tips on finding your beauty after breast cancer, click here.

Lisa, a post-mastectomy breast cancer survivor, encourages her fellow sisters to take some time before the acceptance begins. She admits that it took her time to accept her new body that was affected by chemo, radiation and surgery. “Many women associate their breasts with their womanhood and femininity so it will take time to make peace with the new you. If you have a good support system, talk about how you feel and take care of yourself, you’ll start to feel better,” she said. For more tips on accepting the new you, check out this blog post.

Summer is coming and I don’t want to wear my pretty dresses.

Of course you want to feel cool and confident in your summer wardrobe, but you’ve been through a lot and might be feeling a little unsure about stepping out. It’s important to wear what feels good to you, so if that’s an old t-shirt or sundress, that’s okay. Also consider dressing up another portion of your body — your legs or your eyes — to take the attention away from your breasts if they are making you uncomfortable, that’s okay. For more tips on summer styling, click here.

Have more questions, The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction has a patient-to-patient program where we can partner you up with another breast cancer patient going through a similar procedure. We also offer a booklet written by Shirley, a patient at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction who had a double mastectomy, followed by DIEP breast reconstruction surgery.

She wanted to have a ‘girl-to-girl talk’ with other patients, so she wrote a 31-page booklet filled with raw, honest tips and advice that could help others. To receive a copy of the booklet, visit here.