Post Mastectomy Food: The Best Turkey Sandwich I Ever Ate


When I was finally allowed to eat after my mastectomy, the hospital-grade turkey sandwich tasted like the best thing ever.

Immediately following my mastectomy for breast cancer, I was finally allowed to eat.

I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction in 2012 for breast cancer. After the surgery, I remember waking up to see my husband standing next to the bed. “It’s over,” he said.

In a hazy moment, I wondered why I felt no pain. They had just taken my breasts, and I felt great. That was some pain medication. But I was starving, as I hadn’t eaten in many hours.

From the surgery wing, they moved me to a room. There, sitting on a rolling cart was a turkey sandwich — my turkey sandwich.

I devoured it. The turkey tasted like Thanksgiving Day turkey; the bread like homemade — fresh and white; the tomato was perfect, as well as the lettuce, and the mayo — impeccable. In short, it was the best turkey sandwich I’d ever eaten or will ever eat in my life. And it was hospital food.


My husband stood by me, watching me chomp. He seemed to derive great pleasure fromobserving me consume food. Oh, my God, I’d made it through a major procedure. The turkey sandwich was the cherry on top. What made it such a good sandwich? It meant that I was alive. I’dsurvived and was here to tell the story.

My brother told me later that he and my husband were sitting in the waiting room praying out loud for me while I was under the knife. 

“Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name,” my brother said. 

Then my husband would take a line: “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

It must have looked and sounded strange to the people in the waiting room, two men praying so freely and so loudly.I guess they felt that I just had to live. I was important in our family structure. I guess the bottom line is that I was deeply loved, enough for my brother and husband to look vulnerable.

“Hail Mary, full of grace,” my brother chanted.

“The Lord is with three…” my husband chimed in.

I only knew about the praying after the fact.

My paternal grandparents had prayed like that, in tandem every night. My brother had remembered this (how could you forget it) and had employed it that day during my procedure.

The prayers worked because I did wake up, and now, 12 years later I’m here to talk about it.

But, oh, that turkey sandwich. It was my “daily bread,” and it was divine.

God had come through. Who knows, maybe my deceased grandparents were praying along with my husband and brother in the great beyond.

My great grandmother on my maternal side also prayed continuously, but she prayed herself to sleep. While she prayed the wind whistled through her false teeth because she left them in until the very last minute. This whistling would keep me awake when I slept over at her apartment. I wished she would stop talking to God. What a racket!

We called her Gram. Gram, was she up there too? Praying for me?

I bet you Nana, my maternal grandmother, put in a few good words to my guardian angel. Nana had passed away as well but maintained an active social life in the great beyond. I was sure of it.

My recovery was a concerted effort. Isn’t it always?

Winner, winner turkey dinner.

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