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Need some answers on pain


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New to site and was hoping someone would be able to answer some questions. I am a 1 year lung cancer survivor. I'm still on pain med. was wondering is anyone else taking pain med a year after surgery.And how do you know when to stop doing something. Example if I clean the house all in one day I'm in misery.As I told my husband I'm not sure when to stop working.I always have pain. So most people will stop doing something when they start feeling pain.They know they should stop.But I always have pain so when do I stop. Can anyone still having pain tell me how they do it.Had upper right lobe removed and 3 ribs removed. And how long does it take before your some what back to yourself. Thanks for the help. Catwomen

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Hi, and welcome. Can you describe in a bit more detail the pain you're feeling? Does it hurt when you take a deep breath, or when you move your body (twisting or bending), or when you touch certain areas, or something else?

My surgery was not as extensive as yours (no lobe removed), although it did involve a 7-inch thoracotomy incision on the right side and a pleurodesis. I was able to breathe without discomfort within a few days after leaving the hospital, and by then the only pain med I needed most days was regular ibuprofen. For several months it was a challenge getting out of bed (I found it easier to sleep in a recliner) or getting up from the floor after doing exercises — anything involving a twisting motion. After about a year there was no more pain while twisting/bending, though I had to work through some stiffness, and the only pain was an occasional twinge from the incision at random times. Now, after 28 months, the only area of discomfort is a touchy/numb/weird-feeling area in the front under the right breast, which I'm told is probably referred pain from the nerves cut on that side. But I don't know how much of this is relevant to you since I didn't have a lot of cutting done on the inside, and from what I've read my recovery was fairly rapid compared to some.

You should get some better answers soon. Aloha,


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Hi Catwoman,

Wow - that's a lot of pain. I had an open surgery with one full lobe plus removed, but no ribs. 5 nights in the hospital. I think I stopped the pain meds within a week and then used the occasional ibuprofen. It's been almost 3 months since surgery and I have some tenderness in the ribs and intermittent twinges here and there, but the only thing that I look for relief from is fatigue in my back.

I have not been nearly as active as pre-surgery but I do daily housekeeping, though a little at a time works better for me than trying to do it all at once. I still get winded or tired pretty easily. I was in excellent health at dx, so I think that helps.

Have you tried anything other than Rx? Any body work type therapy? Is there a pain clinic you could go to? I keep hearing that a year from surgery, if everything is good, you should feel close to pre -surgery condition. I am counting on that! I'm not thrilled to be taking drugs in general (you can imagine how I feel about being in chemo treatment!) and seem to have a pretty high pain threshold in general, so we might be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

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I am 15 mos out from dx and 10 mos NED. I did not have surgery if you don't count the thoracotomy incision and a pleurodesis on my left side. I had pain intermittently for a long time under my left breast and the lower area of my chest wall where my malignancy was. I still have occasional discomfort in the same aea although the fluid and pleural thickening are long gone. I lived with low back and hip pain long before LC, the intensity now depending on how much and what kind of activity I do. The really awful aches and pains throughout my body during and after chemo (I'm also anti meds so I relied on Tylenol) subsided 2-3 mos after I was off Avastin, just as Ned predicted.

Like you I have struggled to find the right balance of activity for me. It's hard. I think my body always gave me suble fatigue signals that I learned to ignore and "worked through them." I try to pay attention to my body. When I think, "well I'm a little tired but I'll just do....", I make myself stop because chances are I will push on too long. Pain should not be the only sign of fatigue, listen to your body, maybe it's thirst or heaviness in the chest area or something different. It's just a matter of finding your cue(s) and then developing the habit of stopping when they occur.

My question for anyone out there is relative to fatigue. I know my energy level is coming back slowly but how long does it take? If you did chemo for a year is it reasonable to think it could take a year to fully recover? I'm going to be 65 and don't happen to think that is so old, but is my energy level ever going to overcome the chemo and the aging process? That's my burning question.

Judy in Key West

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Hello Catwomen, I just saw under the post "Pancoast tumor" that you also had a Pancoast tumor! Welcome to this site and Kasey and I and others at this site who also had a Pancoast Tumor also welcome you to our special subset. As you know tumors in the apex of the lung cause special problems and seem to have the same group symptoms or syndrome.

As you see I feel blest that this year I am an eleven year survivor! I wish the same or better for you!

Donna G

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Hi Cat,

I wish I had some info for you. I had an upper left lobectomy April '08, 9 inch incision starting at my side up across my back and I was on pain killers for a couple of months. No ribs were touched. My back still is sore and will occassionally knock the wind out of me. But there is one thing I do know and that is when they start messing with your bones, that's some real pain. If the pain killers bother you talk to your Doc or pharmacist about tapering or supplementing. One pain killer then the next time maybe something else? You are one strong woman and if you need pain killers so be it.

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