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Anyone had a lobectomy?

skipper85's picture
skipper85
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

My husband is scheduled for a lower right lobectomy for nsclc on Nov. 18th. He has emphysema and still smokes. Can anyone tell me what to expect after surgery? Has anyone had complications due to the emphysema and/or smoking? How long was your hospital stay? We have a home-based business. How much recovery time is needed if my husband just has to handle phone calls?

Thanks for the info. The surgeon has explained some things but there's nothing like getting the information from people who have "been there."

Skipper85

z's picture
z
Posts: 1320
Joined: May 2009

Hello, Sorry you have to be here. I had the VATS procedure for a right lower lobectomy on 9-23, and returned to work on 10-26 with no restrictions. I was in the hospital for 3 days, and the only pain was from the chest tubes for drainage. I quit smoking on 5-4-09, due to another cancer. If your husband has the standard lobectomy where they have to make a large incision on the back and possibly seperate the ribs the recovery time will be I believe up to 6 months due to the ribs being seperated and a longer hospital stay. I sure hope he will be having the VATS procedure, as this is less invasive and quicker recovery time. If he were to quit smoking his healing time will be faster. I quit smoking due to the 1st cancer because the dr told me the healing time is faster, and I have not smoked since. I wish you and your husband the best outcome of the lobectomy. Lori

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I had a lower left lobectomy in May and was in the hospital for 3 days. I had VATS so my recovery was fairly fast. I would guess it took about 3 weeks to get back to "normal" although I still have slight rib pain. Be prepared for the cough that will come after this surgery, it can linger for months. My onc told me the coughing was due to the irritation from the surgery, but also was helping to expand the remaining portion of my lung. Some have said how painful their VATS was, I did not have ANY horrible pain, just tenderness. Suprisingly it was best to lay on the side of the surgery while sleeping. Best wishes! Anita

skipper85's picture
skipper85
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

Yes he is having VATS. He had previously had Stage IV throat cancer. This lung mass was diagnosed at the same time but the doctors felt he should finish the chemo/rads for the throat cancer first. He finished treatment June 16th and it has taken him this long to make a decision to have the lung surgery. I am still working on getting him to stop smoking or use the lozenges or patch until well after surgery. So far he's not been cooperative about it. The surgeon begged him to stop smoking but that didn't even make an impression. Amazingly my husband does have incredible recuperative powers but you can only punish your body so much.

Thanks for the feedback. Hope you are all doing well.

Skipper

z's picture
z
Posts: 1320
Joined: May 2009

I used the nicorette gum which I recently quit using. It helped immensly, he just has to want to quit, and I know its hard. I used to get mad when people told me to quit, but with the cancer dx it was easy to stop with the gum. I wish you both well. Lori

groundhog
Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

I had the VATS procedure, upper left lobe gone, I was told I had to quit smoking for three weeks BEFORE they would even do the surgery. My surgeons assistant said they also would not do surgery if I had COPD or emphysema. I was told they would check the nodes first, and if cancer had spread they would not do the lobectomy. I had previously cut down on the smoking one at a time until I could go 2 hours, then 4 hours, etc; when I got down to 2 or 3 per day, it was easy. You don't start smoking at a pack a day, your not going to quit that fast either, its foolish to think you will. My recovery was quick, 3 days total in hospital. The home recovery was a little slower but your husband should do fine answering the phones and small stuff. Big difference within 3 weeks. He should consider giving up the smokes anyway and I figure I owed it to my surgeon to stay clean after he saved my life, thats the least I can do to show some gratitude.
Best wishes, good luck, and keep us posted.

groundhog

groundhog
Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

Oh, and be sure to use the Spirometer!! This will help a great deal (before surgery).

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I agree re the Spirometer, and add that is very useful POST-SURGERY as well, along with a couple of other toys they give you (I don't know their names but one looks like a rubber porcupine :)).

I also want to point out that you are the first I have read here who had the same experience, or at least related the same experience, re smoking: I was pretty much advised that I HAD to quit smoking (and this was for the original head/neck, two years before the lung cancer diagnosis) or the surgery would not be performed. I also had to go through the litany of breathing tests to confirm I could make it through the later lobectomy (VATS, lower right lobe) and still manage to breathe.

In any case, if that wasn't enough to encourage me to quit, I began to concentrate on the fact that the guy who made the cigarettes that were killing me was probably a non-smoker out on his yacht somewhere enjoying the profits while I was laid up in a hospital minus part of my tongue and, ultimately, part of my lung. Thinking of him did the trick (if the tongue reconfiguration did not :)).

Smoking-free for more than five years, although if it is far enough away, I admit, the smell can still entice.

Take care,

Joe

Art1023
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2010

The surgery will go well , and the recovery is short , but please get very involved with follow up care . Ask for chemo after surgery and insist on CT scans every 3 months , these are the mistakes I made with my lower right lobe surgury . I now have Stage IV lung cancer because I was not educated with cancer care . Good Luck Art1023

skipper85's picture
skipper85
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

Unfortunately the CT scan my husband had before surgery showed a mass in my husband's left lung. Lobectomy was to be for the right lung. They did a wedge resection of the left lung and it was cancerous. This didn't appear lit up on his PET scan previously, but apparently it had been there at least 2 months. Anyway, my husband is now Stage IV (either lung cancer or head & neck cancer cells are in his lungs - we'll find out on the 30th when we see the surgeon for follow-up).

Lobectomy is no longer an option. I don't know if he'll be able to get radiation because he has emphysema and radiation would further stiffen his lungs. I don't know if he weighs enough for chemo. He stopped drinking the Ensure but says he'll start again today and he will start using the spirometer today. Of course he's stoned because of the pain pump and other pain meds he's taking, so I don't know if he means it or not. He's been able to work at home (telephone) but he is weak and tired. I let him sleep as much as he wants and I encourage naps. He is using the nicotene patch right now. Once he gets off some of the pain meds and can drive again he may go back to smoking. I hope not but I guess it doesn't really matter at this point. Surgeon was vague on prognosis - 6 to 24 months - depends on treatment and other variables. I'm praying that he doesn't suffer like my sister who is in hospice treatment for breast cancer. She has lingered for a couple of months and it's heartbreaking. It's also a great strain on her immediate family who are her caregivers at home.

Thanks for all your input. Now all I ask is that you keep him in your prayers. You all will be in mine.

Skipper

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Skipper, I just joined and posted a thread asking if there were anyone on here that had the cancer start elsewhere. It sounds like your husband's situation is similar to mine.
do you mind telling me how they determined if it was a primary lung cancer or a spread from the head/neck cancer?

thanks, Debbie

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