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Cancer cells in lymph nodes after surgery


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The biopsies came back last night from my husband's surgery on the 16th. They removed his RLL and middle lobe and some lymph nodes. It was all dead cancer cells except one lymph node had live cell. Surgeon told us this and that would probably do chemo, but cannot do before 6 weeks from surgery.

We knew going into surgery that possibly more chemo. That part is not a surprise. We felt so blessed and fortunate to been able to have the surgery. Many of you know, this is not at all an easy surgery to come out of. To go into it feeling normal and then in all this pain and then hear that you may still have cancer has got to be a big bummer.

I said the above because my husband and I have really not discussed this yet and I do not know exactly what he is thinking or can think. I do know he is more coherent today. When he was told last night, he asked the surgeon "can't you do a Pet Scan". I didn't get to talk to her alone. She only mentioned the chemo. I am sure he figures the Pet would show if anywhere else. It wasn't before surgery??

I am totally in the dark here as to the odds of what is going on. Is this an isolated cell that may only be in the lymph node in question and treatment could get it as it did in the other lymph nodes. What are the odds of this having gone elsewhere. He had nothing more before. Without putting each of the questions in writing that are going thru my head, I am asking if any of you have anything you could share with me on this. I tried some goggling and some of my cancer sources but not come up with anything yet to even give me an idea where he is at. Thanks,

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I am not able to answer your question as I find myself in a similar position with my dad. On May 2 he had RLL & RML's and surrounding lymph nodes removed as well. Surgeon told us after surgery that he felt sure they would find cancer cells in the lymph nodes as they were still swollen, and that he would need more chemo in about 6 weeks. Well the biopsies came back negative for cancer anywhere...the surgeon had them tested twice because he didn't believe the results. So now we don't know what they will suggest since his Pet scan prior to surgery showed cancer no where else either. Dad goes back for his post-op with the doctor tomorrow, so I guess we will know then.

As you are aware the recovery is very painful; however, for the most part dad is doing really well. The pain and the coughing are decreasing each day. He isn't getting up and walking as much as I think he should, but he is scared he will not be able to breathe. (his oxygen levels have been between 95 and 100 percent since surgery?) I guess the thing that concerns me most right now is that he seems to be getting very depressed. It seems like forever since I have seen him smile. I think it is like you said, he went into surgery feeling great and came out in all this pain. This has been the first thing for dad since he found out he had cancer that has made him feel any kind of physical problems. The chemo and radiation were very easy for him. Anyway, enough about me.

I will let you know what he finds out tommorrow. I wish continued recovery for your husband. Let him know that each day it does get better. I will add you both to my prayers.


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Please do everything possible to get your dad to walk, even if just a few minutes every hour or two. I had my upper left lobe removed last June and the recovery was awful -- pain and fatigue for months. This past April, I had a wedge resection at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. They told me before the surgery that they would have me walking a mile a day right after the surgery. Yeah, right.

But they did! And this recovery is so much easier. During my week in the hospital, I saw patients who followed the walking protocol and those, like my roommate, who didn't. All the walkers seemd to be doing much, much better.

If your dad feels unstable, maybe your doctor can arrange for a walker for him. I just can't stress enough what a difference the walking has made. Yes, I'm still in pain (and on perscoset) but it's manageable and I'm moving very easily. Not only does the walking lower my pain but it raises my spirits as I feel I am recovering!


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Hi Mary. Glad to hear the surgery went well and hope he has a speedy recovery. The doctors will give you some advice on chemo...if it were me, when I felt a bit better, I would probably go for it as a preventative measure. Everyone needs to do what they feel is best for them. Good luck with our decision. Nothing in any of this is easy. Take care


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Hi Snappy,

I had a PET scan about 6 weeks after surgery and it revealed cancerous lymph nodes that were not apparent on a PET just 8 weeks earlier. That PET scan provided the location of the nodes and the doctors were able to treat them with radiation and chemo. You may want to ask your doctor if another PET would help in your husband’s case and if additional radiation is even an option.

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I cannot provide any information on the lymph nodes but I do agree with the comments on walking. I had my Upper Left Lobe removed in September and started walking withing a couple days. I was off painkillers within 10 days.

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Hi Teresa; Thanks so much for sharing about your Dad. The stories are close. Strange about the lymph nodes? Hope all reports continue to be good tho. He shouldn't be afraid to walk. The saturation levels are good. Have to go slow and build up. They must have helped him with walking and breathing in the hospital. He should be be fine if he helps himself. Depression is not what you want. These men are hard to get going sometimes. (grin).

My husband had a real rough time with his treatments. Don't think this is the best wording but I want to tell you that 'he had the 'advantage' of seeing a recovery from the treatment. Maybe he is more aware that there is a recovery. My husband also knows a little about breathing with reduced lung function. Maybe my husband will be less depressed.

I will add you and your family in my prayers. I don't get in here each day but will try to followup on your Dad as I can. Little laughter doesn't hurt. Does he watch TV. Can you set him up with a good comedy. Anything to brighten his day. I don't know when is too soon, but do something that he normally would do that gets him out of the rut he is now in.

Linda is right about the walking. When a person is short of breath and cannot breath, you would think the last thing to do is to walk, BUT, it is the best thing to do. Not to walk fast, just 'keep' walking and build up endurance.

Tom K. Thanks a lot for the input. Pet Scan was the first comment my husband made when the surgeon told him. He was pretty drugged that day. When he gets home and we see the doctors, we will ask about that. He has had 30 plus radiation treatments. Can he still have more. If I read right, you didn't have treatments before surgery, correct? Yours has worked out good. Hope you continue NED.

Thanks for the input. We are doing okay now. My husband may get out of the hospital Monday but we are understanding more.

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