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new here, mom has nsclc


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Hi, I'm new here.

Recently they discovered a suspicious mass in my mother's left lung. Now its been confirmed through a biopsy that is cancer. They don't know for sure exactly what type it is or what stage, but they did say it is not SCLC.

They say it is operable -- there's one tumor in the upper left lobe of the left lung, with no sign of it having spread elsewhere -- so she's in the process of setting a date for the surgery to remove the one lobe. They haven't talked about using chemo or radiation yet. She's 72 and in very good overall health with no other serious health problems and isn't on too many meds. She's been a smoker for nearly 50 years, but quit cold-turkey a week ago.

Can anyone give me an idea of what the surgery will be like? It seems pretty serious and will take a long time to recover from. They say she'll be in the hospital for a week or more following surgery. What kind of shape are people usually in when they come home? Will someone like me (who knows very little about caring for a post-op patient) deal with it right off, or will she need a nurse to visit for a while?

Anything you can share about what to expect would be helpful. Mom had breast cancer 8 years ago with a mastectomy, so I'm familiar with the emotional roller coaster of a cancer diagnosis, but this seems much scarier than the breast cancer. My grandfather (her father) died of SCLC 25 years ago, but his was diagnosed at a late stage whereas they caught my mom's early on a routine exam.

Thanks in advance,


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After the hospital stay, the incision for the lobectomy should be pretty well on its way to healing. The holes for the drainage tubes are another story - those will probably still be "open" when you take her home. Make sure you have a nurse show you how to dress them and follow directions. Letting the holes get air helps them to heal, heavy duty disinfectant can keep the new tissue/skin from regrowing... Just follow the instructions of the nurse...

It is a painful surgery that scrambles the nerves. My surgery was on the right side about 18 months ago and I still have some pain and odd twinges at times. A brassiere may be out of the question for some time, there are posts on the board regarding some "fixes" if that's the case.

I guess, basically, just follow directions and you'll be fine...

Good luck in your journey,


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Agree with everything Snowflake said. My wife recovered pretty quickly from surgery. It was about five days in the hospital for her. Of course, she was so much younger than your mother that I don't know how much translates to your situation.

So follow orders, and good luck. Surgery is definitely the gold standard of lung cancer treatments. We will be hoping and praying everything goes well for your mom. Keep us posted.


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Laura -

Sorry to hear about your Mom! I'd like to add a few comments to the others. Try to get get her up and walking as soon as possible after surgery! It's very important to getting her strength back! I had them get me out of bed when I was in intensive care, although I'm slightly younger then your Mom, try to get her up asap.

Coming home is difficult, you no longer have the hospital bed, it's more comfortable to sleep at an incline. I slept in a recliner with lots of pillows supporting me and that worked well!

Have her take her pain medication! Although none of the pain meds seemed to work for me, it's important to not let the pain get out of control!

My surgeon "glued" my incision closed so I didn't have stiches or staples which helped because you do not have that discomfort.

Good luck, if I can answer anything else contact me!

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First of all... sorry to hear that your mom is going through all this...BUT... surgery is the best thing for her. My dad just had his lobectomy at the end of June. He is feeling pretty good now, just started to actully. He was only in the hospital for 4 days, and felt ok after they released him. He developed some air and fluid in his chest that was trapped, and this complicated things. The actual surgery went well, and if not for the complication, he would have recovered much much faster. My dad was pretty much able to do alot for himself after surgery. He had trouble driving because of the position he had to be in was painfull, he definitly layed down alot, but as far as everything else, it was painfull but "doable". I hope your mom recovers quickly, and if you have anymore questions, feel free to post them or even PM me!


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Thanks to everyone for all the information. It's very helpful!

It's all pretty overwhelming though -- I think I've read too much about LC in the last couple days and my brain is in overload. But it really helps to hear from other people who have been through this, rather than just reading all the medical jargon on the web. I've joined other lists and have gotten a LOT of info in the last 24 hours -- I'm very, very grateful for how helpful people are at a time like this.

I've read a whole range of stories about the surgery, but overall it doesn't seem to be as bad as I originally though (barring serious complications, of course). She does already have a mild case of emphysema (which I forgot to mention in my original post) so I hope that doesn't affect her recovery too much.

I appreciate everyone taking the time to reply and share their story.


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