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Surgery Monday...again

impactzone's picture
Posts: 542
Joined: Aug 2006

Hello all! Just wanted to send an update as some have asked. Surgery is scheduled on the 16th bright and early.

I liked what C. Hitchens said recently and to paraphrase some of it here: In return for at least the chance of a few more useful years, I had agreed to surgery. So here’s the wager: you might stick around for a bit, but in return Stanford says we are going to need some things from you. These things may include, your organs that do not regrow, your breath holding ability, your ability to concentrate, your ability to digest, most of your future, your mobility, your strength. This certainly appears to be a reasonable trade. Unfortunately, it also involves confronting one of the most appealing clichés in our language. People don’t have cancer: they are "battling cancer". No well-wisher omits the combative image: You can beat this. It’s even in obituaries for cancer losers, as if one might reasonably say of someone that they died after a long and brave struggle with mortality. You don’t hear it about long-term sufferers from heart disease or kidney failure.

Myself, as a coach, I do love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a terminally endangered patient. When I take the first few very difficult shallow breaths after waking up in fog of ICU, the image of the ardent soldier is the very last one that will occur to me. I feel swamped with passivity and impotence.

I met with surgeons and did pre-op last Monday and it looks like this one is really a nasty operation. They have the room booked (hospital not operating) the entire week so I am not sure when I would leave. Basically because of the two previous lung surgeries they have to do some goofy lung ventilitation stuff where they deflate one lung, tie part off, reinflate, and repeat the process. After this then they do the cutting. They have to do an open thoracotomy which involves lots of ribs and cutting and wiring and stuff... The Dr's exact words to me were "Major and Complex" (I have found out this means in surgical speak.. a very painful recovery). I enjoyed that moment... Always sobering when they want a copy of your advanced directive and tell your wife to make sure all things are in order… I’m sure he just wanted me to tell her the passwords to the computer….right……

Actually Julene and I have had too many, "Chip, show me how you do that so that I know how to," talks. It is so important for her and practical but it really stings and is awkward showing her some of the tasks I do, (clean the jacuzzi, tech stuff, wills, death info, very modest home repair, where tools are located, etc.), I show her because there may be a limited time left. She realizes that the odds are not good at all and she must plan for the future as well as enjoy the present. I do not know what I would do without her.

The surgeon asked if I was getting an epidural and I said yes and he said "Good, that will cut down on some of the pain." I asked him what about ALL of the pain. I know those buttons they make you push for pain are just like crosswalk buttons that really aren't connected to anything but make you feel better that you are doing something. Somewhere I know the nurses have a competition counting which room patient pushes their button the most. Here's a hint to all of you...bet on me.

As I left, I thanked him for his positive bedside manner, putting the patient at ease, etc. As I walked out I thought I always wanted my obit to read something like.. "Died after a long happy life in a violent, druken, casino orgy near the buffet table," not, "Never woke up from rectal surgery..."

I am actually in a pretty bad place mentally and am frustrated, hurt and down. I honestly feel like I let people down and I hurt them when I have to go in for this "Mother of All Annoyances". Sorry, I wish I could stand up, go in and come out smiling but the fight like hell gene is missing right now. Julene and the kids are great and have really helped me and we have drawn much closer. I love them all so much and the pain that I feel I give them because of this is so extreme that it sometimes paralyzes me. Mentally, I understand and get it and am grateful surgery is an option, but there have been too many major surgeries and too much worrying and suffering.

The school staff and volleyball team and many students made a wonderful card for my room that is a huge poster. That made me cry. They office gave me a signed hockey stick becaue this surgery is not just regular season hockey it is playoff hockey. (Harder hits, every shot counts, bigger checks...). That made me cry. In a few hours, I will really be crying...

Lots of Love to All

Chip Fenenga

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

You have our best wishes and hopes for a good outcome. May your surgeon be inspired.


Kathleen808's picture
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words with us. As a spouse it is important for me to hear the experience of other people dealing with cancer. It is so true that people talk about a battle. Sometimes I think Dick finds that motivating and other times I think it makes him tired.
I will be holding you and your dear family in my prayers. I will say special prayers for your wife as she waits for you to come out of surgery. I am praying for your doctors that they bring their best game for you.
You are a brave man Chip and I know your family appreciates everything you do to stay with them.


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Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

I had similar feelings when I was going through surgery, radiation and chemo, for some reason I just couldnt help but think about what I was doing to my partner and my child. I dont think it compares to your situation exactly but I do understand how you feel. Today I still struggle with alot of things about this beast, but with the help of some good books, counseling and God, I am starting to see that even though we may feel like we are hurting them (our family), its not US that is responsible, its the cancer that is hurting them. I know some will say its a play on words but truly it is not. We would never hurt our families like this or see them suffer, but cancer will, and its cancer we all need to be angry at, not ourselfs, thats for sure.

Not sure I am making any sense here, but just wanted to let you know that I know how you feel..

You will do great tomorrow, I will be praying for you...and waiting to hear how things went...and how many times you push that little button...*smile*

Be strong, keep the faith..and know we are here for you...


462lt's picture
Posts: 118
Joined: Jun 2010

Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Laura

Posts: 965
Joined: Nov 2008

I loved your post. I am thinking of you a lot today and I am hoping for an uneventful and successful surgery tomorrow.

I was thinking about your sports analogy. The day before my liver resection my loving brother-in-law (who I have known since I was 8 or 9) clocked out of work and drove all the way to our house to give me the movie "Rudy." He likened that movie to the surgery and to my illness in general for the main character in "Rudy" never gives up, regardless of his setbacks. You have probably seen this movie already, but if you haven't, maybe check it out from the public library.

All the best Chip...


geotina's picture
Posts: 2123
Joined: Oct 2009

Wishing you nothing but the best outcome with your surgery and recovery. You are back in the battle, you have been there before, one step and one day at a time.

Best to you and your family - Tina

Kerry S's picture
Kerry S
Posts: 607
Joined: Dec 2009

Yeah one does get a little nervous before surgery. About as nervous as a woman of ill repute sitting in church.

We just have to muster up the positive attitude to know we will get thru this crap. You have not lost the fighting gene you just have not looked in the right place yet. It is still there. You just have to get your fighting face on to get it fired up and going.

Hang in there and fight like a street fighter. There are no referees to call a foul in this fight.


Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

you feel needs to be done. Looking for good results Chip and tho recovery will, as you acknowledge,be painful, you will recover......steve

jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

I sometimes wish I could just push the "like" button.
Just hang on, life isn't over yet.
Jo Ann

jillpls's picture
Posts: 241
Joined: Mar 2008

I will be thinking and keeping you in my prayers. It is very scary and the thoughts of how much we are doing to our family body and mind is
overwhelming. I too hate the look I get from my kids or husband or sisters whe I'm in the hospital or feeling really sick. I keep saying I'd rather get hit
by a mac truck and get it over than to put hem and me Through the pain of watching me die slowly. Keep fighting though because in the end we still
have a stronger desire to live than to die. We want just one more day.....

HollyID's picture
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

Thanks for your words this morning. My prayers and good thoughts go out to your wife and to your doctors that they know what's best for you and that your recovery will be swift and uneventful.

Love and Hugs,


Posts: 295
Joined: Apr 2010

I too pray for you and your family. My husband is a teacher and a coach also. I am sure it is a wonderful feeling to have the support of the players, students and staff. Go in there and kick butt! This is only temporary. Your life is worth it! Go through this surgery and in a month or two come back stronger and ready to go again.

Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

Chip, as you face this most recent hurdle, now that we all here are rooting for you and if it were possible that our wishes could come true that you will have a speedy and pain free recovery.

Yes it is very difficult for our loved ones as we go through the surgeries and treatments, but you know that no matter the hurt and fear they have, they would not consider for a moment being anywhere but with you and supporting you in any way they can. As my mother told me, that is what family does.

It sounds to me like you have lots of folks who are right there for you and giving you all the strenght they can by their good wishes. You are very lucky, and you best plan for a big thank you bash once you are recovered from this latest procedure!

Prayers, good wishes, good vibes, what every you call it...all coming your way.


sharpy102's picture
Posts: 371
Joined: Apr 2009

@Chip: GOOD LUCK!!!! I'll be thinking of you on Monday...and let us know please how things are with you as soon as you can come up to the board...don't hurry though..take your time, rest, and heal! All the best!

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6715
Joined: Feb 2009

Hoping and praying that all goes well tomorrow. You have every right to be in the place you are mentally. Facing what sounds like a big surgery is always mentally draining. Please let us know when you get a chance as to how you are doing.


Posts: 211
Joined: May 2009

I will be thinking about you and praying for a successfull surgery and easy recovery. I agree the mental part of this battle is the worst. I am a teacher and have been lucky enough to work since my stage IV dx in March 2009. I had to miss some days for chemo , but not much. I think every day about how cancer has affected my 14 year old daughter. It is so hard to deal with. I got dx when she was in 7th grade which is the grade I teach. Her and all of her friends loved having me there. Then I had to be out for chemo and appointments, while everyone was talking about it , and my daughter was there without me. She will be in 9th grade (High School) this year ! Teaching is a great job. Good Luck. Brenda

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Chip

I've been wanting to talk to you since I've heard of your upcoming surgery. Your post made me think a good deal about the "mother" of all surgeries as well - mine was pretty major as well, but only #2 for me on the lungs - I know this is the 3rd time for you.

The problem with repeat surgeries on our vital organs is that we fully understand from the 1st time, what we have to do and what is expected of us. You are fully aware of what the drill and routine will be with lung surgery - as am I. You can't fool either of us...what we both don't know is what the extent will be, we make our best guesses and then when surgery happens, we find out what really happened. Like, this time, I lost 2 of my ribs that I was not expecting - and then the tumor was up very close to the spine so we could only go so far. And there will be treatments to follow as the surgery is only the first step.

I understand the heaviness in your words - I can truly say I feel your pain and share your apprehensions and concerns. I know right now, you are searching for the fighting gene, as you say. I can honestly tell you, by the time they have you cabled and are ready to take you down to the O/R, you will have found it.

And when you awake, I know there will be pain. I woke up with my hands tied to my side and a ventilator down my throat...it was one paralyzing feeling and I had to get my mind right - and quick. I know those first few moments as you're trying to dial back in will be difficult. But, I know, you will handle it as well as I did - just from what I know about you, I know this.

I stayed in the hospital 13 days with a pain incision ball sutured in, and a couple of chest tube drains. I was ruled out for an epidural, because we were close to the spine, so I elected for the pain incision ball. And BTW, those pumps aren't fake, as you know. They are metered to go over 10 minutes and I knew to the second when that was. I lit it up so much, that I was out on my feet sitting straight up. Morphine does help the lung patient.

So, I had just wanted to know that I was thinking about you and it hurts me physically to see you have to go through this - it brings back memories of my recent surgery - now almost 30-days out. I stopped taking pain meds and am just gutting out the pain with my mind only. It's a hard way to go, but I stay on the treadmill 3x a day and am trying to rebuild my lung capapcity back to something. I was told I could have been on a ventilator for life - at the very least, I was supposed to go home with supplemental oxygen - but I beat both of those odds and walked away with neither.

You responded to my hospital post with these words: "Stay to the right of the green." I think that advice will serve you well too.

Like you, I know that each of us leaves a little more of ourselves in the O/R each time we go in. But our spirits still soar. I stayed in good spirits and laughed and joked with my surgeon, his entourage, and all of the great nurses who helped me. They love it when you are a good patient.

So, it's "Playoff Hockey" tomorrow - the best of luck to you and I hope you will think of me as a guide to help you through this, when the going gets tough.

I'm a half mile ahead of you, but just yell and I'll stop and wait for you to catch up:)


idlehunters's picture
Posts: 1792
Joined: Apr 2009

Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery.


herdizziness's picture
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

Chip, my dear, may the Lord hold you in his hands. I'm sure he will and all will be fine after your surgery.
I will be thinking of you and your wonderful wife tomorrow.
My thoughts and best wishes your way!!!
Winter Marie

Crow71's picture
Posts: 681
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks for this post. I really relate to a lot of what you said.

I also feel like I have let people down. I hate for my family to see me down - so weak and pathetic. I couldn't sit up by myself for a month after surgery. Once, my 10 year old daughter was standing by my bed, and I had to sit up. She took my hand and pulled me up. My little girl had to help me up. I've never felt so ashamed. I said, "I hate for you to see me so weak." I'll never forget the look on her face. She was surprised and puzzled. "I don't think you're weak Dad. I can't believe how strong you are." It had never occurred to her that I was weak. (It was like a scene out of a country music video.) I don't know why I'm telling you this. I guess I'm feeling your frustration, and I'm thinking that your family feels the same as my daughter. They hate what is happening, but they know that you are strong and wise. Chip, we can all tell that you are strong and wise.

The flounder floats gently with the waves and tide. The salmon fights against the current of the rushing river. Cancer has taught me that I can't always be a salmon. Sometimes I am a flounder. Sometimes my surgeon is in charge. Most of the time Kim is charge. Sometimes my kid is in charge. Sometimes I have to float with the waves for a while. I always bounce back. Your "fight like hell gene" may be missing for now, but I promise you it will be back.

Remember Chip, you DO "suffer for a good cause." YOU. And all the gifts that have to share with your family, students and team.

I'll be thinking about you tomorrow and sending you great sparks of strength.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Hey Buddy,
Game face on...Gonna be fine....I got a feeling your gonna score the winning goal, and come out the hero in all of this.....You are a teacher, a teacher worth their salt gives their all for their students. I know of nothing more a loving human could do but show their fellow alumni, students and fellow survivors how to face their fears as you are and to know that you will through research and study will prevent someone or someones child from going through what you are facing...I have known you a while and can see the anger in the fight you have to put up with but also the kindness that shows in your heart to your families well being.....That's what I want for mine as well, to know that no matter the outcome I will be remembered as the best Dad and the best husband ever....To me that is satisfying in itself....I have no other worries and since I have come to terms that my wife and kids are and will be fine, all now that I have to do is work on getting better, and I know that you share the same feelings.....It will be done tomorrow evening, you will be in and out all day, but remember when you hurt, all of us will be hurting as well, but when you heal and are feeling good again, we will breathe a sigh of relief and start the smiles again because we know the feeling that you will have in your heart, and that feeling will warm us all.....Tell the wife and kids and know for you as well that we all will be thinking of you in your journey, and know, that this too shall pass ....Much Love and Hope to you and yours, Clift

Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

I am thinking of you as you go through "playoff hockey". Remember we are all there with you when the puck is dropped + the "game commences", through the hard hits, penalties etc. We are the crowd in the arena, cheering you on. Take good care, I wish you a successful surgery + best recovery. Thanks for updating us.

Aud's picture
Posts: 480
Joined: Oct 2009

holding you in the Light for a quick recovery from surgery, healing, hope, and strength.

nursesheri's picture
Posts: 50
Joined: Jul 2010

and lots of positive thoughts coming your way for a successful surgery, and a speedy recovery!!!


tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5065
Joined: Feb 2008

Hey, Chip.

I hope I am not too late for you to have a chance to read my message before you try to rest before your morning ordeal. Right! I have a feeling there won't be much rest for you this night.

Your posts have always impressed me. You have such a kind manner and such a great attitude. It always comes through showing that you must be a wonderful husband, father, and coach. It sounds like the people in your life are all very much in your corner on this one.

I will pray that we'll soon be able to hear from you saying that you made it through the operation in good order. I can only imagine what an ordeal it will be.

Your family here loves you and is waiting expectantly to know you're okay.


slamb58's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Chip,
You will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers this next week, and in the coming weeks of recovery. I want to wish you the best through the surgery and a speedy recovery. I am a hop skip and a jump from Stanford and if there is anything I could do for you or your family, please let me know. I would be happy to run any errands, make deliveries, or whatever to help, and I am only to happy to do it. My email is slamb58@sbcglobal.net. I know you are in good hands, and we will be cheering for you!!

Posts: 163
Joined: Apr 2009

A month ago I went thru what you are scheduled for tommorrow.I feel terrific ( minus 2 lung lobes) despite all the dire words about long recoveries ( I am 70) the more surgeries we have bla bla bla. I had THree lung met surgeries in 3 years after 2 crc surgeries etc with a broken hip surgery and brain mets in the mix. And yes, I feel terrific now just a month later.

Doctors seem to feel like they need to be crepe hangers to cover their butts ( pun intended?) and do the avoid malpractice two step. You are still working, raising a family, not old, a good survivor. Whats not to like about that.

You have been a model to all of us on the board. Big hugs for that.

After 4 years of stage four we do have a different perspective, huh. However, lets reframe the MD doom and gloom and get this surgery over with, out of this hospital and do more days of living....you have a right to feel stressed but your inner strength is incredible..
.What saved me this summer from the overwhelming overwhelmingness of repetition of pain and stress was..........they wouldn't be doing the surgery nor would the insurance company be paying $100,000 K for it if it didn't have a good chance of being SUCCESSFUL.
Maybe if you hold on to that it would help with the depression.
I hate the word "battle" especially since people don't seem to be "battling" other diseases.
You are a survivor Chip, have many to teach from this and this is test anxiety to the max
Best prayers for minimum pain, fast recovery and complete healing.

ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

But there are no perks ,no leave,no time off for good behaviour. It is what we do mainly because the alrernative really sucks. We are a tough bunch but no one can be tough 24/7. Look at the down time and tears as just a bodily function just like a trip to the loo or a good feed,once you have had it you no longer need it. You have always rolled with the punches Chip. Just hang tough my friend we all need you here.Ron.

pepebcn's picture
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

In a couple of days you will be happy tinking how lucky you where to can be operated and in a cuple of weeks again enjoyng life ,familly and friends!
Get up chip!
Best and my prayers for an smooth and easy recovery!

Sonia32's picture
Posts: 1078
Joined: Mar 2009

Thinking and praying for you that everything went well

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