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Tightness..like a rope around you!!


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 Hello everyone and God bless! I had my first lung cancer surgery in October 2016  on the right side and the second lung cancer surgery on the left side in April 2017. Surgeon took the entire upper lobe and 1/2 of the middle lobe on the right side and a  wedge at bottom on the left.  Both sides were discovered very very early and both times, the patology came back clean. Therefore I did not need any other treatment whatsoever. I felt so blessed but at the same time very guilty!

My brother had had double lung cancer surgery 11 years earlier surgeries were just two months apart. He did have to have chemo. 

 He’s doing great and did not or has not had any complications or pain once the surgery was over. 

 Yes my question is: has anybody felt like a tight rope around their chest.  If so,  have you been able to find out what may be causing it or can anything be done?  I had it on the right side right after surgery the first time and also on the left side. Feels so tight and it feels like it could be affecting my breathing.  

Thank you so much!

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Hi Marci.  Welcome.  I had a RUL lobectomy about six weeks ago.  I also do not require any follow up.  I understand feeling blessed but guilty.  I don’t have a tightness in my chest when I breathe but when I cough or sneeze there is a pulling (almost ripping) feeling inside.  It is really frustrating.  I am told that internal scarring is an issue with this surgery.  Did you or are you still using the spirometer for breathing exercises?   That may help.  Have you consulted a pulmonologist?  The surgeons are good at cutting things out of you, but it’s good to have a pulmonologist on board for overall lung health.

Given your familial link I’d also recommend biomarker testing, both somatic testing of the tumor and germline testing of any genetic markers you have in your DNA.  Even though you don’t require follow up testing having that information is valuable to you and your family members.  

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Thank you Curt!!   I met with a pulmonologist June 2018 and he said to see him in another year. I may try to schedule an appointment sooner than June see if I can get any information regarding this “tight rope“.    If it doesn’t show up on an x-ray or CT, I’m not sure they could figure out what it is! I feel like it does restrict my breathing and feels like a heaviness on my chest and around me. I am anxious to see if anyone else has experienced this and what, if anything, was able to be done. I am so very happy I found this site... just sorry I didn’t look sooner. Well I’m here now and looking forward to maybe getting some answers and also I would love to be able to help anyone I could from the diagnosis to post surgery.  My brother always tells me that I want to take care of everyone and I guess that is true. I truly believe I am in the company of some amazing, strong and caring individuals.

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Welcome here.

A tightness of the chest and abdominal area after pneumonectomy, I've had that.  My experience was the tightness came in two stages.  The first lasted till about 4 months after my last surgery and it propagated from my incision area across the front aspect of my chest.  It did feel like it restricted my breathing but I realized I was restricting my breathing when the symptom came on to avoid pain. So I learned to breath through the constriction.  There was no pain from this form of tightness and it resolved without treatment about 6 months after surgery.

The second type of tightness is muscle cramps.  They occur because one of my side effects of chemo is chronically low magnesium and although I take 1,000 mg daily, cramping in my abdominal and chest muscles still occurs.  This type of tightness is painful.  The low magnesium also causes other muscles to painfully cramp. 

My surgeon explained the pneumonectomy required cutting through several layers of chest muscles and they healed differentially.  The tightness was the result of this differential healing.

Stay the course.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Tom!   The tight rope feeling is not painful. It is just very uncomfortable and feels like a rope is tied very, very tightly around my chest. It almost seems like it starts with where the drain tubes were on each side. I don’t know if that makes any sense but that’s the way it feels 

Edited by MarciD
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Marci is the tightness felt when breathing or just a general muscle tightness?  I wonder if it is nerve/muscular or internal lung capacity limitations.  Do you feel out of breath?  

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Hi Marci,

I had Vats surgery to remove left lower lobe (9/2017) followed by thoracotomy to remove right upper lobe (10/2017). I was told that the thoracotomy required cutting through muscle tissue and muscle fascia to perform the surgery. I asked my surgeon how long to expect to feel uncomfortable in the surgical area following the thoracotomy. She said it might get better in a year following surgery or the discomfort may last forever. So, I do notice that when I'm tired, or overdo, that I feel like a tight band is winding around my rib cage. It's uncomfortable but does not impact my breathing. I usually find that if I change my position and try to breathe in/out..etc. it can feel somewhat better. But most often, laying flat with support under my neck and head will help. When I wake up in the morning, it's not there, but it returns every night around 7:00 pm or so..

Hope you feel better. Let me know if you have any other questions!



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