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Biopsy Results

Julie in SoCal

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Greetings Friends!

Last Thurs I had a biopsy of the mystery meat in my left lung and the results have came back as adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, not melanoma. So the plan is to have surgery to remove the lung lobe with the tumor "Larry" in it and some lymph nodes  If the cancer has not spread to my lymph nodes, then surgery should be all that I need.  If it has spread, then I'll need more treatment, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Just trying to stay in today but this is all I know.  The hospital is organizing all that is needed for surgery, but it's not an emergency. 

Any words of wisdom in getting through a VATS Lobectomy?  Thanks!



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Hi Julie in SoCal,

I had an open lobectomy last May, and I think there are some similarities in recovery. 

Spirometer - they will likely give you one prior to surgery. Practice with it before surgery, and IMPORTANTLY, use it regularly post-surgery. 

Walking - your doctor will probably want you to take some slow walks around the hospital once you're out of ICU (ICU is standard after surgery). Do it. Use a walker or wheelchair for support and be kind to yourself. You will fell breathless for awhile until your lungs adjust. Once you get out of hospital, continue with slow walks, but don't go so far out at first that you can't make it back home (my family requested I walk in the backyard unless I had an escort for a few months).

Sleeping and coughing can be tough for awhile. I used pillows to support various parts of my body until I found the sweet spot. I also used a small square pillow that my mother-in-law made me, which I held under my right arm and against my upper right thoracic region for support. Bracing with it while coughing helped control the pain, and using it as support helped whiled I walked distances. 

There are other things, but I'm sure many here have lovely tips! 



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My words of wisdom are be patient with your recovery.  Whether its VATS or traditional lobectomy, take your time and listen to your body.  Definitely make friends with that danged spirometer.  

I'm cracking up that you named your tumor "Larry".  I named mine "Norman" and now that I have a recurrence in my lymph node, we've named it "Larry".  If we don't laugh, we'll cry!

Please keep us posted on your progress and ask if you can think of any more questions. 

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Thanks Friends for these tips! I will definitely make friends with the spirometer and get a wedge pillow for my bed.  Walks are also a must for me, as I have significant arthritis and if I don't move I'm frozen pretty quickly.  So all good.

After you all came home from the hospital, how quickly were you able to walk up a flight of stairs.  My bedroom (all the bedrooms in the house) are upstairs and I'm wondering if I'm going to need to make alternative sleeping arrangements.  How quickly after surgery were you able to even snail pace slowly go up a flight of stairs?

Thanks again,


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Because I had the traditional lobectomy, I think my recovery was a little slower.  I was walking in the hospital the day after surgery.  On my first day home, Mom and I walked to the mailbox and over the next week I progressed to walking to the end of the block and back.  It was a struggle, though.  You might want to consider making arrangements to sleep downstairs for at least a few days until you start to really bounce back.  

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And Susan: you ladies are marvelous.  I named mine "pain in the butt"!

I was not discharged from the hospital until the physical therapist watched me negotiate a flight of stairs -- in the hospital.  I agree with Bridget and Susan's suggestions and reinforce Bridget's by suggesting you go to a mattress store to audition a wide variety of pillows including the "wedge" incline pillow.  You may even find you need two to get the right angle of elevation.  You will not enjoy sleeping on a flat bed for some time.  (I'd audition the pillows at a mattress shop but buy on-line for better pricing).  (I'd even recommend you get 2 15" wedge pillows because you'll need 1 as a minimum but may find more comfort with two). 

The spirometer workout pre-surgery has an interesting psychological prospective.  Note where you are able to keep the ball before surgery and your goal is to achieve the same elevation after.  When you do, you'll be ready to be discharged.

Expect a day or two of pain but also expect the hospital will administer medications to counter the effects of Larry's resection.  Don't be a hero and refuse the medication.  The pain will diminish every day.  After hospital discharge, bending over will be a challenge as will lifting anything heavy with your left arm.  So be prepared to modify your activities.

Stay the course.


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I was walking around the hospital unit the day of my VATs lobectomy and released the following day with a portable chest drain. The day after that I was walking around the neighborhood wearing an oversized raincoat to cover the drain tube and bag. I probably could have made it upstairs as soon as I was home, but didn't have to, as my bedroom is on the main floor. The more you move around, the easier your recovery will be. I did sleep and hang out on the couch (futon-type) in the living room- with my wedge pillow -for over a week, because it was less boring there- more natural light and I could see what was going on outdoors. 

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