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Jane CM

Coughing 8 weeks post VATS Lobectomy and new nodules

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I had VATS surgery for a right upper lobe and wedge resection for middle lobe 8 weeks ago. I have been diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer and my surgery took place after 6 weeks of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments. My tumor and lymph nodes shrunk prior to surgery. On my first post surgery CT, there are several new small nodules on my right lung while the left  nodules have remained stable. Has this happened to anyone post surgically whose nodules did not grow and become cancerous? Also, every morning I have deep coughing spasms that can last an hour or more. I worry that this indicates I’m dying from lung cancer and this must be what it feels like. Or is it fluid and/or inflammation from surgery? I am finding it difficult to stay positive and would appreciate any thoughts you might have regarding my situation. The cough is dry...nothing comes up and it is deep in my gut. How bad is this?

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JCM,

We have almost the same DX, and treatment. I was IIIB, had pre-surgical chemo and radiation, then a pneumonectomy to remove my right lung. I also experienced a great deal is spasmstic coughing for months after surgery(s)—actually 3 (long story, read my profile). Moreover I had stents placed in my trachea and these caused spasmatic (non productive) coughing. I’m alive now 15 years after treatment and my coughing waned years ago. 

Why did I cough?  My surgeon and pulmonologist told me things in my airway were “rearranged” and that was causing the spasms. The bronchus stump was inflamed and that inflammation triggered coughing. I eventually got use to the rearrangement and coughing gradually stopped. But, my pulmonologist scoped me to check things out and you might want to ask about that. 

Here is what I did to reduce the spasms. I isolated myself from people because I didn’t want pneumonia on top of all my existing problems. I tried to breathe in shallow breaths and to relax. My surgeon prescribed an antidepressant that helped me relax. And, I took long steamy showers.  The hot steam soothes my airway. Moreover, I avoided breathing smoke (cooking, vehicle exhaust or any smoke-like irritant). My pulmonologist prescribed albuterol and I purchased a device to use it at home. 

Start your day off with a long steamy shower and see if this helps. Buy some Halls citrus drops to keep your throat irrigated and see your Doc about albuterol and antidepressant to relax you. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

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Thanks for reaching out, Tom. I appreciate the wisdom of your experience. What is the device you used to help with getting Albuterol into your lungs? Also, are you able to remain active with only one lung? And do you need to use oxygen? I’m curious because I may end up in that situation. Thanks.

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JCM,

For albuterol, I purchased a Aeromist compact nebulizer from I believe Amazon. Not very expensive as I recall. The albuterol is a prescription medication. 

As far as lung capacity, I have about 32% of normal capacity. My O2 sat rate is about 97. I can’t run and have difficulty walking up stairs and hills but otherwise I’m fine. I’ve never needed supplemental O2. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

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Tom,

I have a prescription for Albuterol but a device would be helpful in using it. Thanks for this information and best wishes to you!

- Jane CM

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