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Mom is having Surgery next Friday, Good or Bad?


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Once again my thoughts are negative. This should be great news, or so I am told, but I don't know what to think. For those of you who do not know my mom's situation, I will give you a brief history. In July she was diagnosed with Stage 3b NSCLC with involvment in two of her lymph nodes in her chest. She was scheduled for a 3 part surgery in August to possibly remove the tumor in her lung but after a biopsy on the lymph nodes it was determined that she could not be cured surgically and had to undergo chemo and radiation. She finished 2 cycles of Cisplatin and Etopocide and 25 radiation treatments, had a ct scan which showed remarkable improvement, however, there is an unknown fluid filled thing that none of the doctors seem to know what it is. They do not believe it is a tumor but the oncologist and surgeon believe it needs to be drained. We had our 2nd follow up with her oncologist and he informed us that our next step was to contact the surgeon to see if Mom was a candidate for surgery to remove the tumor in her upper right lobe. After he consulted with the oncologist and Mom's physician and after an ekg and echocardiagram it was decided that surgery was a go. A couple of things worry me. One, is that I understand that chemotherapy weakens the immune system and should Mom experience any type of infection it could be really rough. The second, and maybe this is an old wives tale, but I am sure everyone has heard something to the fact that once cancer is exposed to air it spreads like wildfire. Mom is 78 years old and I do not know what to expect from this type of surgery. I know this should be a good thing that is happening but I can't help but be worried. She has gone through everything better than I could have ever hoped (the chemo and radiation) and thanks to everyone on this board all the advice that was given was of great help. You don't know how grateful I am for everyone's help. I hope I can help the new ones that are just starting this journey. The surgeon said that after he removes the upper lobe of her right lung that she would have to continue radiation and chemo. I asked him why and he said to make sure they got it all. He also said that this is by no way a cure all, but that she has this 2-3 week window of opportunity to remove the tumor. I asked him about the lymph nodes and he said according to the ct scan that they were not a factor anymore. The chemo had basically dissolved them to nothingness. Has anyone experienced this? I would be grateful for any information. As always, God Bless and everyone is in my prayers.


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I'm not medical, but it SOUNDS to me like there are things to be done, you all are doing them, getting very good care, and things are working out, as well as things can work out given that you are in the situation.

I know surgery is always worrisome, and you all have been through so much already, but have faith.

You've gotten this far! God bless.

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Hi Terrye ...

Everything sounds reasonable to me. Only one thing caught my eye that I would like more information if it can be helpful to you. Where exactly is this unknown fluid collecting? I would want to know before the surgery if at all possible what it is and what is causing it. If they can do a thoracentesis prn to drain it and put it through Cytology, that would give you some peace of mind if the cells are infectious or cancerous. If the cells are cancerous, that may change the whole treatment plan. I have heard the statistic though, that 50% of the time, the cytology test will reveal a false negative. (in other words, there still may be cancer cells left udetected. However, if they are there, there is also that 50% chance of identifying them.) I would want to rule these two things out before submitting to surgery and then chemo and radiation. Hope this is a help and not stirring the pot.

Cindi o'h

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I'm sure it would be no problem for them to check your mom's blood count before the surgery to make sure everything is ok. Besides, they may plan to give her prophylactic antibiotics after the surgery.

once you settle these things, try to relax and hope for the best.

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Hi Terrye,

My Mom had exactly the same treatment plan as your Mom except my Mom had her entire right lung removed. We were told by her surgeon that the risk of infection in the chest cavity is highest in the first two weeks after surgery. Mom was given an epideral which helped immensely with pain after her surgery. It was left in for a couple of days.

Mom had a lot of "gunk" in her lung after surgery and didn't get it coughed up and ended up with pnemonia. After getting pnemonia, she thought she probably should have tried a little harder. So really encourage her to cough if she needs to. I found watching her cough made me feel like she was going to "come apart at the seam". But she won't.

It's a huge surgery and will take a lot out of her. All of my family wore surgical masks, used disinfectant gel and tried to avoid touching anything near Mom when we visited her in the hospital.

It was an extremely stressful time. But dispite the pnemonia and Mom actually had a minor heart attack, she came through it. After your Mom is released from hospital, see if you can get some sort of home care nurse for her to check her regularly.

My Mom passed away at the end of August. We were told by her doctors that she likely had a blood clot in her lung and we've since learned that it does happen more than it should. So, see if she need a blood thinner after surgery as well.

I really hope and pray your Mom comes through it and thrives after. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


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I know you are freaked out and afraid as this is your mom. But she really is lucky to be able to have the operation. Why would anyone not want it? That is the gold standard for LC. It will get rid of those little monsters in there.

It is a tough surgery but like anything, one day at a time and all of sudden she will fell fine. She will have to use that spirometer that will help expand her lung capacity. Some people think of it as the dreaded thing, but it is very important that she use it every hour.

Buy her a squishy pillow to hold to her chest when she has to cough. It will help.

She will be fine... please stop stressing and that thing about the air and lung cancer. come on that is as old as the hills. Not true... NADA...

The surgery is doable and if she can get an epidural for pain then she won't have to worry about that morphine drip. An edidural is wonderful for pain.

When she comes home they will give her good meds to help her with the pain.

Keep us posted, we are always here for you. Keep a positive attitude and know that you can nip this disease in the BUTT.

As far as the fluid, I have not clue there.


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It is a myth that the cancer will spread by being exposed to air :) I have NO idea where that myth came from, I have heard it many many times and it is just that, a myth, so have no fear about that!

I know you are scared, but I think it is WONDERFUL news that your mom can have surgery. It sounds like a scary procedure, operating on a lung, but both of my parents have had it and they did wonderfully. It was not as bad as expected. I am not saying it is a walk in the park, but both my mom and dad said it was not "the worst thing" to quote them.

Also, I have heard of lymphs shrinking from chemo. My mom was Stage IIIA at diagnosis, she underwent chemo to shrink the tumor and lymph nodes, had surgery, then radiation.

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