A NEW online resource will help women self-manage their physical recovery after breast reconstructive surgery.
Developed by a University of Wollongong researcher and Breast Cancer Network Australia, it brings together for the first time breast cancer organisations, clinical experts and patients.
The Physical Preparation & Recovery After Breast Reconstruction resource has been designed for women having all types of breast reconstructive surgery. It includes videos, a podcast episode and a webinar.
The information can be accessed before or after surgery.
Associate Professor Deirdre McGhee, from Breast Research Australia at UOW, said the need for the resource became clear wen her research found about half of breast reconstruction patients were suffering significant physical problems six months after their surgery.
Reconstruction typically takes place after a woman with breast cancer has a mastectomy.
"Breast reconstruction is major surgery and many women are not aware that exercise before and afterwards can have a big impact on their recovery," Professor McGhee said.
"We wanted to create a resource that has everything women need to know, in one place, based on research evidence and approved by clinical experts in breast cancer treatment.
"This resource gives women the tools to take active steps to prepare for and recover from breast reconstruction surgery - to recover on their own terms, as much as possible."
The videos include physiotherapy-led exercises to help women prepare pre- and post-surgery; advice from breast care nurses about preparing the home for the post-surgery phase; and demonstrations of comfortable sleeping positions, getting out of bed, and wound care.
"Women are commonly overwhelmed around the time of their surgery and find it difficult to take in all of the information they are being given from surgeons, nurses and physiotherapists," Associate Professor McGhee said.
"The podcast and videos make it easy for women to just watch or listen - in the comfort of their own home."
Jodi Steel was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and underwent a tissue-based breast reconstruction.
She said the new online resource would be an invaluable part of women's recovery.
"With all the positive messaging around breast cancer survival, I didn't expect the level of physical impairment I experienced following my mastectomy, and worked physically hard to recover," she said.
"I prepared for my reconstruction and recovered afterwards using exercises like those in the PPR resource and recovered better and faster than after my mastectomy."
Check out the Physical Preparation & Recovery After Breast Reconstruction resource HERE
More information on Breast Cancer Network Australia HERE or phone 1800-500-258.