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Help to get on the road to recovery

Holly3
Posts: 23
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi
My Dad is 56 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in Sept 2005. He had a tumour on his upper right lung. The team of doctors decided on chemo first. He had 3 treatments of chemo over 9 weeks. The doctors found then that the tumour had decreased in size dramatically, results they hadn't seen in recent times. They next opted for surgery to remove the right upper lobe. We were told they got all of the tumour out and some surrounding lymph nodes which they are now testing.
It's seems to be such a waiting game with results.
After only having surgery 5 days ago, the doctors say he is doing really well. His oxygen levels are very good, altho obviously not back to normal yet. The right lung has also expanded to fit the gap, so this decreases the chance of infection.
He may need to have chemo or radiation therapy next, to be on the safe side. We are all praying that the tissue samples they collected in surgery will be cancer free.
I just wanted to ask if anyone else has been in the same position as my Dad, and if there was anything that helped you, specifically, to get onto the road to recovery (besides chemo etc), for example nutrition, excercise, emotional support.
Thanks for your help, and best wishes to all of you.
Holly.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Holly. At age 67, I had the upper right lobe removed, after a summer of aggressive chemo and radiation. Post surgery, I had ten radiation treatments and twelve weekly chemo treatments. The post-op treatments had little/no side effects. The recovery, for me, was very slow. The keys seem to be exercise, eating well, and getting back into the routine. Walking is the easiest way to exercise. It helps the whole body, especially the lungs, and it can be done at one's own pace. Your dad will know just how much more to do each day. He should avoid driving his car for a while. I once got in a position where I drove to the market, alone, then I could not drive home. The "simple" act of steering can suddenly become very painful across the chest. Monitor him closely with regard to driving. Meals can become overwhelming, if he tries to eat "three squares" each day. Better for him if he has many small meals, served on bread and butter-size plates. He's probably lost weight and strength, so don't worry about too many carbs and calories for now. Daily activities are important, to get him back into the "swing of things". Contact with his friends and neighbors, coworkers, etc., is good. Ask his doctor to recommend breathing exercises. It's important to make the lungs work hard, in order to have maximum capacity. I am over four years out from surgery, with no significant loss in lung capacity, and I'm still cancer free. Best wishes to you and your dad. Ernie

BillDrake
Posts: 17
Joined: Jan 2006

My adventure started in April 2004 when, as part of a physical,they found the colon cancer. Had a relatively easy operation removed 2 or 3 inches and was back home feeling pretty good in 4 or 5 days. I started weekly chemotherapy treatments (scheduled for 16 weeks) to kill off any lingering cancer cells About 4 weeks into the treatment I had some congestion in the left lung which was diagnosed as cancer (not the same type as the colon cancer. They tell me having two different types is better than having one type that spreads) First part of August they stop the colon chemo, took out the lung, and started radiation treatments (daily for 28 days) for residual lung cancer cells and restarted the colon chemo treatment. Sometime in September we stopped treatment for a week or so while we ran from and recovered from hurricane Ivan. Finished all that and started Chemo for residual lung cancer cells around the first of November. 4 Treatments 3 weeks apart. While the colon chemo was easy to handle this last stuff was like putting Drano in the blood system. Took 5 or 6 hour per session followed by 4 or 5 five days of not feeling well followed by shots to make you feel better and shots to raise the white blood cell count so you do not get sick. After first of these 4 treatments I started passing put and ended up in the hospital for 3 or 4 days, Then I apparently had pneumonia for a week or so. I finished the Chemo in early January 2005 and finally got the stuff out of my system by May. . I was excited to find out that my new normal feeling w/o chemo and radiation is much better than I expected!
Bottomline: Have confidence in the doctors and yourself. Attitude is a big part of making yourself well. Good luck!

Holly3
Posts: 23
Joined: Jan 2006

Thankyou, all the way from Australia. We don't seem to have an online support group like this one. I am finding it really helpful, not just for the info, but it is also an outlet to express what's happening.
The chemo that Dad has had is an overnight procedure, i think it was quite an aggressive dose. If he has more now, after recovering from surgery, will it have more of an impact, in terms of side effects? And how long did it take the both of you to recover from chemo treatments? I understand that it is known as a cure for cancer, but i also know that it is a poison. BillDrake, it seemed to take you about 5 months, is that correct?
Thanks for advice about not driving for a while. I will try and sway him on that one! We have breathing excercises from the doctors and i'm looking forward to going for walks with him.
He has actually put on weight, quite a bit, since his diagnosis. He had lost a lot prior to that. However at the moment, after surgery, he is not eating as much. So small meals are a good idea.
Thanks for you help it has made me turn around, and once again get back to feeling positive. Which will help my Dad to have this attitude too.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi again. My pre-op "aggressive" chemo and radiation was tough, (I was age 67 at the time) but my post-op was no more than an inconvenience. I had no side effects from either chemo or radiation (post-op). Chemicals in my body seemed to dissipate immediately. I started feeling better about a month after my surgery. Any problems were directly related to surgery, not chemo/radiation. Overall, it took about four months for me to feel good, - about a year to get back to "normal", whatever that is. Yes, chemo is a poison, but I consider it the lesser of two evils. It worked for me, and until something better comes along, I feel that it's the best (only?) treatment of its type that we have. Ernie (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)

BillDrake
Posts: 17
Joined: Jan 2006

I had only 4 sessions of the bad stuff, three weeks apart. Frankly I never recovered between treatments. My final Chemo session was 3 January 2005 (amazing how/why we rember such things). Recovery from all Chemo side effects probably took 2 to 3 months. Personaly I didn't following the chemicals they used on me. However, if knowing them would help you let me know, Meds and dosages gotta be in the paperwork
Hang in there!

Holly3
Posts: 23
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi guys, again!
Just found out my Dad will have to have some more treatment as they found one of the lymph nodes (or glands??) was effected. They took out a lot, and only one was effected which i guess is better than more than one. So it looks like radiation or chemo, they'll decide this week. None of the lymph glands came out positive in the CT (or PET) scan he had around a month ago. Did either of you have any lymph glands/nodes effected by cancer?
Plymouthean, why did you have chemo after surgery? The surgeons said they got all of Dads tumour and the tissues samples were clear. Was that as a 'just in case'.
I understand that you had radiation for residual lung cancer cells BillDrake? Did you have any lymph glands effected?
Again, thanks for you time.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Holly. I had chemo and radiation after surgery. The chemo was to insure against any "bad guy cells" that may have survived the pre-op treatment. I did have one involved lymph node. The radiation was of a more accurate type than the pre-op treatment. It was more finely focused, and able to reach an area around my esophagus that was questionable. My primary chemo treatment consisted of Etoposide and Cisplatin (4 monthly cycles). The post-op chemo consisted of Carboplatin and Taxol (12 weekly treatments). The surgeon felt that he had removed all the cancer, so it was "just in case", as you put it. I felt that I'd take any insurance I could get. Stay in touch. Ernie

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BillDrake
Posts: 17
Joined: Jan 2006

Yep! Had 25 or so radiation treatments. With regard to lympth nodes. I just read the op report. They took sample of three or four. No mention of their removal or non-cancerous status.

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