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My father's Surgery


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Hi Everyone,

Hello, I'm new here...my father was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer a little over a month ago and had surgery on July 21st. He had approx 40% of his right lung removed along with the tumour, luckily it didn't spread to his lymph nodes. The surgeon said that chemo or radiation wasn't needed and that he is basically cured.

This is all great news! My question is, how long approx does it take to recover from the surgery? He's doing really well but he doesn't have much stamina and breaks out in a cold sweat everytime he tries to do anything.

Please if any of you who have had this surgery could share your experiences with recovery that would be very helpful!

Thanks in advance,


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I remember going to Walmart at about 3 weeks out of surgery and thinking that there was no way I was going to make back to my car without passing out. I stood at the cashier in a cold sweat and felt like I had run a marathon because I walked to get milk at the back of the store.

Recovery from surgery is long, and it was some time before I felt like myself and could breath normally and walk somewhere without getting winded. I would say about 3 months out I started feeling fairly normal again but the whole first year was a process of slowly coming back in many areas, both physically and mentally.

Just tell your dad to keep using the spirometer (sp?) to help his breathing and to start walking a little bit each day to build himself back up. It is only a bit over a week and he had major surgery, he needs to give himself a chance to recover slowly.

Welcome to the board and please keep posting on your dad's progress!!

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Debi is right. It takes months before everything begins to be the same. I call it my new normal. Its not the same as before but getting better the further I get away from treatment. I hope he does great and does as Debi says. Use that spirometer and walk. Those two things will help him gain his strenght. Also doing wall walks (where you take your fingers and walk them up the wall as you stand about 18 inches away or less). It will make sure his surgery scar doesn't heal too tightly. Keep his arm rotation normal. I wish him the best. Cure is a wonderful word when dealing with lung cancer.


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My surgery was April 24, 2001. The first few weeks were slow, but doable. By the time I saw the surgeon 4 weeks later I was done the pain meds. My husband went to Europe for business in early June, leaving me with a 15 year old and we did fine. Did a week at the beach in early July, and then flew to San Antonio for vacation, and even with that awful heat, I was fine.

I tell anyone with surgery to take it slow at first, and then strength will return.


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As everyone else has already said, it takes a long time to get your strength back. Tell him to be patient, do what he can and rest when he gets tired. A normal life will eventually return.

You said that the surgeon told him that chemo or radiation aren't necessary. The surgeon is an expert re: surgery, not oncology. You really should get an opinion re: chemo from an oncologist. He/she may not have an answer for you but will give you some things to consider in making the decision.

Best wishes for a quick recovery.

Muriel K

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Hi Angie

It has been one year (July 2003)since I had my upper right lobe removed and lymph nodes were clean. The only follow up I have is Ctscans and blood work every 4 months the first year - every 6 months the 2nd year and then once a year annually(as long as there is no reoccurence)

I had VATS (Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery) done. Have heard one recovers sooner from VATS surgery. Anyway - I walked a short distance the first day of surgery by leaning on a nurse (onc surgeon was gung ho about getting his patients out of bed early). The next day I walked very slowly and unsteadily in the hallway with my husband and my drainage bag (there were several of us in the hallway all carrying the drainage bags - we looked weird). Came home on the 3rd day.

The onc surgeon also was insistent on using the Spirometer and doing the "finger wall walk". So I did it all. The amount of walking increased as my pain decreased. I faithfully took Dilaudid for the pain (I'm not big on pain :) for at least 3 weeks but cutting back from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and then none by the end of August 2003.

I still get short of breath if I walk too fast or go up the stairs too fast or talk while I'm walking. And I still have a pulling sensation on the right side - the oncologist said that is the nerves regenerating and the sensations can come and go for years.

I agree with Muriel K. about the onc surgeon being the expert on surgery and the oncologist for the treatment. My onc surgeon had a reallllly biiiig ego and told me I didn't need to see an Oncologist because he knew what I needed. Sooooo, I hurried to an Oncologist. The Oncologist and the Onc Surgeon did agree on the follow up treatment. BUT the onc surgeon didn't like to be asked questions and I dreaded going for my appts. So I am now going to an Oncologist that is near where I live and I am very happy with him.

Recovery(emotionally & physically) depends on the person. I recovered faster physically than I did emotionally. Just take it slow and do the spirometer, finger wall walk and walking. I started out walking for five minutes in the yard 3 times a day with my husband (felt like I had done a marathon). This is a wonderful board with wonderful people who listen and understand.


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Recovery from lobectomy is slow, but should be steady, I think. When you are first out of the hospital, shortness of breath and getting tired easily is common. If you have to have chemo, then for that time period, you get tired easily just from the chemicals going into your body to kill off bad cells, because, in addition to killing off the bad cells, chemo strikes some of the good ones too.

But, my experience was that after surgery and before I started chemo, which was a time span of about 2 months, I steadily felt better every day and could do more and more. During chemo, I wasn't short of breath any more by then, but activity was definately in a holding pattern.

Once chemo got over with, I started feeling better every day and about two weeks out from finishing chemo, I felt fantastic......I still feel great.....I hope this helps.

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Hi Angie

My job requires walking in the woods. About half of it is in the woods and the other half in the office. I was motivated to recover as rapidly and fully as possible so that I could continue to work at my job. I used the sucking thingy a lot. I was in the hospital for 6 days. When I went home, I started walking around the block. After about 2 weeks I could walk around the block 4 times in about 20 minutes, I continued to walk a mile every day for 3 months until I could do a mile in 15 minutes. That was what I had to do to pass the minimum requirements to be get fire assignments. It is called the “light” test.

Right now, if I briskly climb a flight of stairs I get a little winded, especially if I try to talk immediately afterwards.

I have had no postoperative pain to speak of. There is no pain now. I feel a tightness and pulling sensation along my shoulder blade.

I took physical therapy beginning a month after my operation for 3 months. I think it helped a lot. I worked on rebuilding my muscle strength and I had my scar massaged to break up the collagen so that the scar tissue would not get too thick.

I tried splitting firewood about 3 months after my surgery, but that just messed me up a bit. I had to have friends split it for me. So, I continued the physical therapy and was able to split wood after 5 months.

I am 59 years old. I think the walking, and physical therapy helped a lot. Plus, I had a good surgeon.

I go for a ct scan next Tuesday to see what’s up. I expect my onc to tell me I am still cancer free.

I hope your dad has a speedy recovery.

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Hi Angie

I had my lobectomy in June of 2000-----Since there was a leak in my drainage tube, I was draining alot of fluid so I was in the hospital 9 days---a little longer than most-and I think that helped as I was quite lucky and was quite mobile when I got home, walking to the store and even dust-mopping the floors the first day ----I did not have really much pain to talk of -and really did not need pain meds except once in a rare while---I did walk every day though (actually up to the store to get ice cream!)---and went back to work after 2 1/2 months--(I could have gone back earlier but I commute approx. 2 hours each way and did not want to push it) I did not have chemo nor radiation---but I did get that opinion from an oncologist --

I did get indigestion and acid reflux ---which seems to be the norm---and that side was quite numb for about 2 years-

and I do not have the breath I had before the operation----but I can do everything except run without getting winded (but I could not really run before either)

I am not sure if your Father is stage 1A or stage 1B ---but that seems to make a difference as to whether chemo is recommended and to whether there would be a benefit from it---

Good luck to your Father on his recovery

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