Tag Archives: lung cancer surgery

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 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.

Tony

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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.

Tony

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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.

Tony

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