Tag Archives: lung cancer surgery

Depression linked to deadly inflammation in lung cancer patients

Lung cancer patients with moderate to severe depression are 2 to 3 times more likely to have inflammation levels that predict poor survival rates, a new study found.

The results may help explain why a substantial portion of lung cancer patients fail to respond to new immunotherapy and targeted treatments that have led to significantly longer survival for many people with the disease.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

“These patients with high levels of depression are at much higher risk for poor outcomes,” said Barbara Andersen, one of the lead authors of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

“Depression levels may be as important or even more important than other factors that have been associated with how people fare with lung cancer.”


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Week 5 of my lung cancer surgery recovery

As a brief recap: I had lung cancer surgery on 11 Jan of this year. For the events leading up to it, check out my Page – My experience with lung cancer.

I am now in my fifth week of recovery. I naively thought that once I had the surgery, it would be all over. I could not have been more wrong.

I wanted to include this lovely card from the SuperAgers because it seemed so sweet and certainly lifted my spirits

The first few weeks home, I had almost no appetite, ditto on energy. The only exercise I was capable of was walking the dog three times a day. There was also a lot of pain in my chest. I needed painkillers for the first week. Additionally, I was told not to lift more than 10 pounds. Although one lobe of my left lung had been removed, I did not experience shortness of breath.


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A bump in the road to my recovery from lung cancer surgery …

I have been recovering from lung cancer surgery since January 11 of this year. You can find details of my lung cancer experience here if interested.

My entire encounter with lung cancer has been marked by my ignorance at every step, from thinking that not smoking prevented me from getting it, to not realizing that lung cancer is a disease of the aged – and I am over 80 years old. Some 70% of lung cancer victims are over 50 years old.

This is the x ray of my lungs a week apart. The doctor could see some improvement.

Likewise, when I was approved for surgery I thought my life would return to normal afterwards. Wrong again, big time. I underwent major surgery in which part of my left lung was removed. Recovery will take weeks, if not months. I have to keep reminding myself that I am over 80 years old … not a kid.

So, here I sit, nearly four weeks after surgery. I am able to walk the dog three times a day, just under a mile each time. That constitutes about 90% of my exercise each day. Otherwise, I am on the couch reading or watching TV, at my desk on the computer, or, in bed resting or napping.

The bump I hit on the road to recovery is that I suddenly suffered from a severe cough. My cancer team feared that a problem had developed in my lung. I was called in to the hospital for a chest x ray. I confess that visions of a hospital stay danced unpleasantly in my imagination.

Turns out that my lungs are recovering very well and the doctor recommended some Mucinex, a non-prescription drug, for my cough.

So, the bump turned out to be minor. Whew. I am finding some relief from the Mucinex already.

Further on my recovery, in the first weeks, my appetite was as restricted as my energy. I would eat because it was time to eat, but only minimally. In the past week or so, I have begun to be able to snack again and I can also consume more at meal time. So, I have an uptick on the appetite scale.

Additionally, regarding my energy, in the beginning I was walking the dog pretty much on nerve because it was time to take him out. Most recently, I have actually felt some energy available to do the deed.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I must mention the psychological aspect of my recovery. I do this, not to complain, but, possibly to inform any reader who may be experiencing or is about to undergo a major surgery and then need to RECOVER from it. After nearly a month of being home and only stepping outside to walk the dog, I think I am experiencing something on the order of being ‘stir-crazy.’

This is a good definition: stir-crazy (slang) Of a prisoner, mentally unbalanced due to prolonged incarceration. (slang, by extension) Restless, uncomfortable, or impatient due to inactivity or confinement.

To sum up, nearly four weeks into it, I feel that I definitely am making progress. My daughter who lives in Texas says that my voice even sounds stronger on the phone.



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My different kind of birthday celebration …

On past birthdays, I have shared pictures of meals enjoyed at fancy restaurants, or the steak house at my local casino. They were always very celebratory.

This year is different. Turning 83 today, I am in the process or recovering from lung cancer surgery which removed the upper lobe of my left lung. For details on my cancer experience, you can check out my Page – My experience with lung cancer.

Photo by lil artsy on Pexels.com

This year, the celebration was seriously subdued. Because of my surgery, I am still at a very low level on actual energy. I manage to walk the dog three times a day, just under a mile each time. That’s it. Otherwise, I am reading a book, watching TV or on my back in bed.

I am fortunate that here in Chicago we have a Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. My girlfriend ordered in and we had an abbreviated feast in my dining room. Part of my recovery is that besides my energy being low, my appetite is also subdued. I enjoyed Joe’s excellent fare, just an abbreviated version.

On a further positive note I got a very nice phone call from my son, Andy, who lives in Tennessee, a retired policeman. We had been estranged for one reason or another for about 50 years, but he phoned a couple of weeks ago because he had heard about my cancer and was concerned. He called again today to wish me a happy birthday. We had a second really good conversation and plan to get together when he comes to Chicago next month.

Last, but not least, my daughter, Kate, called. She lives in Texas and is in the midst of a job search. She also played Florence Nightingale for me when I had the surgery, sitting in my hospital room till visiting hours ended. Her company made a painful, challenging 36 hours significantly less so. She also went to my apartment and walked my dog three times a day for me.

So, I had a lovely low key family-type celebration that ended up just perfect. Two weeks into surgical recovery, I simply don’t have the strength for much more.



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… Lung cancer free!?

If an exclamation point and a question mark in the headline seem confusing to you, join the club, you are not alone.

A heads up here: I have written about my experience with lung cancer in a number of posts, all of which I gathered into one Page – My experience with lung cancer if you want to catch up.

I just had my first post-op visit with the surgeon who removed the tumor and part of my left lung on 11 January of this year. He said that there are currently no signs of cancer in my lung or system. That’s the good news – right now I am cancer free.

The picture is an x ray of my lung following the surgery.

After I met with my surgeon, I had a meeting with my oncologist. He gave me the not so good news – that the tumor removed was six centimeters which qualifies as ‘large.’ Because of that, there is a good chance that it left cancerous micro-organisms in my system that can trip me up in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. These cancerous organisms can be free to travel anywhere in my body to start another cancer attack.

So, while I may be cancer free at the moment, I need to guard against future attacks by the same organism. He recommended chemotherapy and immunotherapy in either order.

I confess to a great deal of ignorance about chemo. I have heard horror stories about side effects as well as simply after effects. I said that at this point I did not want to undergo chemotherapy.

Right now I am in the immunotherapy camp. The treatments and side effects seem less onerous. Also they actually use the body’s own immune system to do a better job finding cancer cells so it can attack and kill them. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cells – both cancerous and non-cancerous.

This is day one of my new ‘after cancer’ life.

Anyone who has any suggestions or stories about folks in my situation and what they decided is welcome to share with me. I truly feel like a babe in the woods here.



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Recovering from lung cancer surgery …

I am writing this in late January 2023. My experience with lung cancer began in early November 2022. I have posted several times on it and rather than rehash those posts, I have collected them onto a Page entitled – My experience with lung cancer so you can go back to any part that may interest you.

The experience began in November and I had a ‘period of darkness’ that lasted eight weeks during which I knew that I had lung cancer, but had no idea how bad it might be. On December 20 I met my ‘cancer team’ and got a ton of information about cancer in general, my cancer, in particular, and my options going forward. They scheduled surgery for January 11. So, for more than two months, I lived with the idea that I was carrying cancer and now I might be getting free of it with the surgery.

Cut to today – late January. I have had the surgery and the upper lobe of my left lung was removed along with a larger than two inch sized tumor. I am now in RECOVERY. Having lived a relatively healthy life with very few serious encounters with doctors or hospitals, I really had no idea what to expect after major surgery. I thought, naively, that once I had the surgery I was done…. Not so.

Now, I have a much clearer idea. I have an incision in my left side through which the tumor and lobe were removed. The ribs needed to be separated for this to occur. So, when I was released from the hospital, 36 hours after the operation, I was given a prescription for painkillers and told to be sure to use them. As it turns out, the operation has left me with a really ugly scar on the left side of my chest (I’m doing you the favor of not showing a photo). Because of the surgical activity, my chest feels like a big guy wearing a Super Bowl ring punched my ribs several times. So, while I have a full range of motion with my arms and legs, my torso activity is highly restricted.

After 11 days, I am still taking the pain pills religiously. It hurts to turn my body in either direction.

The good news in all this, besides the fact that I think I am cancer-free, is that I am able to walk my dog three times a day. Walking was one of the recommendations upon my release. I don’t have a lot of energy, so the walks really make up the bulk of my exercise for the entire day. Also, I don’t have much of an appetite. I understand that is par for the course. I just have to wait this thing out one day at a time.

Besides walking, I was given an Incentive Spirometer which I use regularly throughout the day to build up my lungs.

So, nearly two weeks into RECOVERY, I have been enlightened as to the nitty gritty of recovering from major surgery.

Fingers crossed.



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