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Tom here--New--Co-survivor--Exercise Plan


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Tee is my wife and survivor. After dealing with this since mid-Feb, surgery finally occurred on Jun 1. NSCLC Stage 1 with Right Upper Lobe removed. Post surgery pathology all normal so no chemo or radiation indicated at this time. Pain appears to be a moving target with good days and bad days but overall headed in the right direction. I hear a lot of talk about exercise but nowhere have I seen any kind of exercise plan or any resource that might address an exercise plan. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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Welcome, Tom! Sorry you need to be here. Glad to hear the surgery was successful and they've called it Stage 1.

My surgery was 3 1/2 years ago. I was already a long distance cyclist before my diagnosis, and determined to recover well enough to get back to my long distance riding afterward, so even before my surgery, I was researching to find out about post-surgery exercise. Like you, I found next to nothing, and no specific doctor recommendations at all.

I did however, find studies that clearly showed that regular aerobic exercise after lung surgery helped with the long term pain from surgery more than anything else that had been tried. Finding that made me even more determined to get back to my riding as soon as I could.

My surgeon recommended waiting six weeks after surgery before doing any kind of exercise. I ignored that and was back on my bicycle 16 days after surgery, the day after they removed 40 staples from my side.

I did, however, wait the six weeks before resuming my other exercising, core muscle exercises (for my back) and dumbbell lifting. Those exercises actually use the muscles that were cut, so it only seemed logical to wait longer to start them again.

The riding clearly made the pain much better, but I have to say that the other exercises, the ones which actually use the muscles that were cut, made the most dramatic difference in my pain. It improved quickly, and within a few months I was pain free, and have been ever since.

That's a lot different than what you'll hear from many who've had the surgery. Long term pain is a problem for many. So I think your checking into exercise is a very good thing.

I think any kind of low impact aerobic exercise would be good for a start. Brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or any number of other exercises should be good. I would just caution her to start slow, don't do anything very strenuous with the muscles around the incision yet, and if any exercise causes pain in the incision area, stop, then try it again at a later date.

I should add that I'm not a doctor, nor a physical therapist, just a surgery patient who's recovered well. Best wishes for you both! Keep us posted on how she does.

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Hi Tom, welcome. Bud is our exercise guru on LCSC and he's given good advice. I would add, is there any type of exercise Tee enjoys? I went to a gym for years but got tired of it. I had both a treadmill and stationary bike at home before that and hated them both. I had biked outdoors (not like Bud lol) for years but am not back into that yet. When I quit the gym (pre-dx), I researched online and chose the Total Gym. I picked it because testamonials from people with physical problems did well with it. I was turning sixty with significant osteo-arthritis. I bought it for my 60th birthday and that was it. I finally found a machine I enjoyed working on. I've been off and on it since dx, depending on where I'm at physically at a given time. I have what they call "chronic lung cancer" and am on treatment more than not. I'm on taxotere now and am back doing light work-outs.

Bottom line to all this is, best exercise for anyone is doing one they enjoy. It takes some experimentation sometimes to find it.

Let us know what you find out. I'm very interested.

Judy in KW

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Hi Tom,

Sadly there is very little out there on post surgery exercise programs. I think part of that is the statistics for lung cancer, may make doctors ambivalent about it.

If you learn more, please share here. I think anything is better than nothing. I was a weight lifter for years, and have been thinking about getting back into a routine just to keep active and toned. I think high rep weight circuit training is a good way to stay active.

Judy in MI

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Hi Tom, I'm so sorry that you are in this situation. I also had it in the upper right lung. No surgery for me though, just alot of radiation and chemo. It shrunk and is in remission. I have met men and women who have had that surgery. Was it from the front or the back? Either way it's a brutal operation. The clinic where i was treated had all the followup departments in house. The suregeon actually prescribed physical therapy directly to the PT dept. and was part of the integrated care. Not all hospitals do that I guess but I would ask the surgeon about how to help the involved muscles recoup. Try to find a qualified or reccomended plqce to get started. They taught me a series of breathing exercises and said to start just by walking as much as I could and build up gradually. I sure hope Tee recovers quickly and thank goodness it is out of her and was stage 1.

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If you are somewhere where the YMCA has teamed up with The Livestrong Foundation, I can recommend the Exercise and Thrive Program.

http://www.livestrong.org/What-We-Do/Ou ... scriptions

Typically, there is a small fee, but usually, no one is turned away for financial reasons. Some do require a time between end of treatment and start of the program, but if the doctor signs a release, you can negotiate that earlier. I started the week following the end of my radiation (post chemo and surgery.) It was a very good way to ease back into exercise and feel accountable.

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