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Waiting for Verdict ... and Not Understanding it All


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Five days ago, I underwent a robotic lobectomy / wedge resection to remove a cancerous tumor (node) from my right lung.  I lost the upper lobe and a portion of the lower lobe since the tumor was attached to both (but unseen prior to surgery).  I am waiting the pathology report but have no idea what type of cancer it is, why the surgeon had to go through "so much scarring" to get to the tumor, what caused the scarring, why I am having stomach and chest pains (as opposed to just pain in my right side).  I saw my surgeon today, didn't get to ask any questions I came with, was told the air and fluid in my chest will eventually get re-absorbed and he doesn't think the pneumothorax or other issues are causing the stomach pain and I'm just a bit clueless over what the heck is going on.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer first and this lung cancer is not related to my breast cancer but the breast cancer is on hold because lung cancer trumps it all and I'm a bit lost.  Once I finally get the pathology report (probably next Monday when I get another chest x-ray), then what?  I'm not going to continue with the University of Miami Hospital of its Sylvester Cancer Center nearby since it is primarily geared only toward breast cancer and not lung cancer.  Also, how long with it hurt when I cough?  I'm amazed at how well the robotic surgery recover is, although I'm still not trying to breath of cough.  Also, how long before you can start breathing better?  Just asking.

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Hello @Olive.  I’m sorry to hear about BOTH of your diagnosis.  I had an upper right lobe lobectomy back in February.  They can usually tell pretty quickly what type, NSCLC OR SCLC, pretty quickly.  Some of the genetic testing does take a bit longer.  Be sure to have that testing done if it wasn’t.  The chest pains could be from the nerve damage from the surgery.  The surgery is pretty traumatic to your body.   Stomach pains could be the same or from constipation from the pain medication.  The nervous system works in funny ways and sometimes displaces pain to other areas.  I was still in pain five days out.  Talk to your doctor about adjusting your pain medication.  

“Then what“ depends on the report.  If you had clear margins and no lymph node involvement they will probably just monitor you and go after the breast cancer.   Given your other cancer they may also opt for follow up chemo just to make sure there are no lingering cancer cells.  

It will hurt to cough for 2-3 weeks.  Is your chest tube still in?   Once the incision on your side heals up the pain will go away.  I squeezed a pillow on my side when I coughed or sneezed, it helped.  I started to breath better pretty quickly.  I’d say a month.   I was relentless with walking and using the spirometer.  If you do both it will improve quickly.  I’m back to my previously lung capacity.   

It’s a tough surgery but I’m amazed at how well I’ve recovered.  I had visions of being debilitated, walking around on oxygen the rest of my life.  I do have some residual numbness and soreness on my side but generally I feel great and have fully recovered.   I’m sure you will as well.  Hang in there.  



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Welcome to the forum and sorry you need to come here.  Like Curt and you I had a lobectomy (lower-right) and Curt is spot on about potential causes of discomfort and their causes.  But, few things I think you can do (if you aren't already); 1. take notes on things you are concerned about and write down questions for your doctors.  They often come and go so quickly that we let it happen without getting our questions answered.  2.  Make sure that you are taking all the pain meds that are available.  I did not do that and had a terrible time until I got back on track.  3. Make sure you're eating well and taking Colace.  My digestive system shuts down on opioids and Colace is a lifesaver.   4.  If you continue to feel pain regardless of the meds and healing time then let the nurses know it as often as needed until someone can either help alleviate it, explain what it is and when it will reduce or both.  

You need to be your best advocate.  It just sounds (from your post) that you have questions that deserve answers.  You don't even need to be unpleasant, but you may need to be persistent and firm.  Please keep us updated on your progress and any questions we might be able to answer.



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