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I’m new here, frightened, and have a few questions.



I had breast cancer, followed by chemo and radiation in 1990. At the time, prognosis was poor, but all was good until 2015 when a I had a recurrence. This time, the cancer was in both sides, so I had a bilateral mastectomy in June. This was followed by dose-dense chemo (AC-T), which I finished in November. At 60 years old, a smoker, and aggressive chemo, I was pretty tired by the end. Nonetheless, I found I was getting stronger with each passing day post-chemo.


So, four weeks post-chemo, I was referred to a thoracic surgeon because of a nodule found in the upper lobe of my right lung. This 1 CM, mixed solid/ground-glass nodule was an incidental finding on a CT scan. The radiologist noted the nodule to be suspicious for adenocarcinoma. The surgeon agrees and is certain it is primary lung cancer (vs. a met from the breast cancer). He will be performing a VATS wedge resection next week. He is hoping it in-situ, but if it is stage 1, he will need to remove the lobe in a second surgery. I was told a needle biopsy isn’t practical because of the location and composition. The surgeon also ordered a PET scan to see what “lights-up,” but that has to be conducted at another hospital about an hour away. They could not schedule it until 10 days after my surgery. The surgeon is a top surgeon in one of Ontario’s finest cancer centres. The centre is also a level 1 lung surgery centre. So, I have confidence in the approach.  



How will the recovery be from a VATS wedge resection? How much pain will I have? Will I be able to care for myself at home, when I’m released from hospital a day or two later? I’ll note that while I did smoke for 48 years, I quit 6 days ago, hoping it will help with surgery. I don’t plan to smoke again. I had a lung function test last week and didn’t do so well, not surprisingly, but well enough for surgery.


Will I be in reasonable shape to go for a PET scan 10 days later? A relative will be driving me, but with traffic, I can count on about 3 hours in the car.



Thank you for reading, and I would appreciate hearing from anyone with any experience on this.





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Welcome Sio.  Boy you really have been through a lot with Cancer.

VATS surgery is a lot easier than a Lobectomy so I hope that is all you will need.

Even still are you sure they will only keep you 1-2 days?

After anesthesia and taking pain pills you should not drive that is for sure.

Glad you have been able to quit.  It sure will save you a lot of money too.

Most important if will make your recovery better and easier.

Traffic must be horrible in Toronto.  I know in a city that size mileage to a test can't be

that far. Wow --3hrs?  Is that round trip, even still.  Wow.

You'll for sure get biopsy results from the surgery.


Keep us posted on how things are going.

Best wishes.


Donna G

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You've had more than enough experience with cancer.  I've not had VATS surgery but a conventional pneumonectomy that is far more extensive and was discharged 4 days after surgery. So, from what I know about VATS, you should be in reasonable shape to stand a 3 hour car ride to your PET scan 10 days after surgery.  The PET scan is an infusion of radiated glucose, followed by about an hour of quiet time, then about a 20 minute scan.  If you are claustrophobic, ask your physician for a script for Xanax to relax you during the relatively long scan.


Be resolute in your effort to cease smoking.  I knew someone who continued to smoke during treatment and it caused unnecessary pain and complications.  Get help with cessation if you feel the pull of nicotine. 


As Donna said, you'll know the type of cancer after biopsy of the VATS removed tissue.  The PET will stage you and hopefully, no uptake indications will appear.  But, your oncologist may recommend post surgical chemo just in case.


I hope your surgery and scan go smoothly.  Stay connected with us and feel free to ask questions.


Stay the course.



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Sometimes after a vats lobectomy others have reported using a lounge chair to sit and sleep on with pillows tucked in either side to help support the rib cage. My vats was for a pleurectomy, placement of a pleurx catheter and pericardial window so my recovery a bit different.

Tell your surgeon that you want the tumor tested for EGFR, ALK and pd1 expression. Due to the smoking it is likely that you are neither EGFR or ALK But its not impossible. Its more likely that there will be pd1. At this time that is knowledge that you can store for later. Pd1 and pdl1 drugs are not being used yet in patients who've had 2 or more primaries but that will change eventually.

I send hope that this is In Situ but limits to stage one can be cured. I understand your frustration. I was dx with stage 4 lung cancer 5+ years ago and stage one DCIS a year ago.

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I had VATs surgery and although I won't tell you it was a walk in the park, it was not the worse thing I have ever experienced either. I was in the hospital for 3 days (due to the fact my blood pressure dropped very low) but as for the surgery itself it went very well, I did well at home with minimal assistance and was up and out of the house within the week. God be with you as you undergo your surgery and your recovery.

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Here is what one person told us their experience was like:


I had a bi-lobectomy with VATS. In the hospital for five days. Recovery was not as bad as a c-section! The biggest objective is to get moving- walk around in circles in your house if you can't get outside. My scars (I have three- very small) are now flesh color and hardly noticeable. I'm still experiencing shortness of breath, (which was the only symptom that sent me to the md to begin with), but I chalk that up to losing 2/3 of a lung!

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Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to respond to my questions. Surgery is tomorrow, and I'm still smoke-free, today being day 11. Quitting has been surprisingly easy. Perhaps putting it in perspective with lung cancer makes the difference. Like the other two times I've faced the cancer monster, I'll fight with everything I've got. My hair has just started to grow back after the last round of chemo, and I will be sad if I loose it again... but better than the alternative.

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  • 2 weeks later...

the first 3 days are the hardest ones.... congrats on day 11.... be careful on what you fall back on like eating and what not....keep us updated and let us know what we can do to help out!!! post away also.... :-P

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  Welcome! Although I didn't have a VATS, I did have a wedge resection via open lung thoracotomy. I wish that I would have been able to get the VATS, but because of the area I live in, it was unavailable. My cardio-thoracic surgeon told me that down time for VATS is less than that of a thoracotomy. I was also a smoker and found it easy to quit once I found out I had lung cancer. I did find out that my lungs are what is causing my lung cancer because I have a condition called Pulmonary Fibrosis. But, even though smoking did not cause my cancer, I quit anyway. Congratulations on your HUGE accomplishment. I want to wish you luck on your surgery and I will be saying a prayer for you. We are all here for you! God Bless You!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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