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Information after lung cancer surgery.

Donna Lynn
Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2009

I had lung cancer surgery on Aug. 10th. After the surgery, no one told me how I was going to feel, not physically, but emotionally. Every time I sneeze or cough, now, I'm so scared that the cancer has gone somewhere else. How can I stop being so scared? I have my first Cscan tomorrow, 3 months after surgery.
After reading all of your submissions. Thank you all for being there.

Lovebird
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2009

I think we all are pretty scared that the cancer will pop up somewhere else.
This is still early days and I think after a while you will calm down. At least after tomorrow you will have a clearer picture. I had surgery August 12th and have not yet had a follow up CT scan. Forums like this are very helpful, just try not to let this disease rule your life.

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

Donna Lynn,

It is a shame that your doctors did not give you at least SOME information about what to expect, but with respect to how you would feel emotionally, they may have been reluctant to for at least one of two reasons: (a) while we all experience at least some of the stress-related issues regarding a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, there is no real way to determine how strongly one is going to react in either a positive or negative way; and (b) I believe they often want to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies, that is, they are cautious about suggesting possible reactions because perhaps by planting ideas in your mind, they are opening the door for some experiences that otherwise might not have occurred.

In any event, Lovebird's advice is spot on. It is not abnormal to feel anxiety following a diagnosis and treatment for cancer. It is not abnormal to suspect that every little ache and creak and sneeze, as you suggest, might be related to a new uprising. It is not abnormal, even, for there to be some stress and tension in relationships with family and friends, although I hope you can avoid it. It is not abnormal to feel fatigue. And, of course, it is not abnormal to seek out a site like this where you hope to discover others who can understand through first-hand experience of their own what you are going through.

The best advice I can give you, Donna Lynn, at least, I think it is the best advice I can give, is to remember that while cancer is biologically disposed to take certain things from us (parts of our lung(s) in some cases, for example), it is not designed to take our happiness, our sanity, our families, our lives. When we let it take those from us, as it does, regrettably, on occasion with certain folks, then we are letting it have more than it is 'entitled' to.

I suspect that for at least your first year following the surgery, Donna Lynn, those 3-month CT scans will be a regular thing. While it is also normal to be very edgy and worried each time one of these pops up on the calendar, please try to think of them as VALIDATION of your status as cancer-free rather than confirmation of some new episode.

In between, as Lovebird suggests, do not let it rule your life. 99% of the time those sneezes and coughs are there for exactly the same reasons they were BEFORE you discovered you were a survivor.

Welcome to CSN, Donna Lynn, by the way! It is a crummy club to be part of when you consider the 'requirements', but the people are among the friendliest, kindest, and most helpful you are likely to find anywhere.

Take care,

Joe

marc1957
Posts: 79
Joined: Oct 2009

Donna

I am a lung cancer survivor from 1998. Every time I see my oncologist, my neck stiffens up, my blood pressure rises, and my pulse increases. Its natural for me I guess. I would further guess that everyone is different and likely, our minds are playing littles boys fear in dark rooms with us. I dislike it, usually I am a logic thinker and play mind over matter, but this is one tragic event in my life that I can not overcome with that attitude.

In the meantime, I try to think of happy events of my life when visiting.

For me, the worse part was the waiting between cat-scans and the results, the not knowing.

another time, chest x-rays indicated a possible tumor ( 7 yrs post surgery ), so a cat-scan
was ordered, then I had to wait a week - almost ran me into the ground thinking about that one !

Hang in there and think positive.

-marc

cabbott
Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

When I was in my early teens, I developed a really stubborn case of plantar's warts that needed cutting out. Unlike cancer where you are unaware of what is happening, I was wide awake and in pain to a fairly significant degree during various procedures to remove those things including cauterization, freezing, and cutting. A shot of novacaine wasn't much better than the procedures because having a needle stuck in the sole of your foot isn't pain free either. I am a big baby when it comes to painful procedures and tended to get rather dizzy and faint when the cutting started. My mom did everything she could to help me keep from passing out (definately not an in thing to do when you are a teenager!). The best thing I remember her doing was planning something fun to do right after each doctor visit (there were many!!!). We loved ice cream, so during the trip over the mountain(40 minutes!) we would plan out what kind of ice cream we would order this trip. During the procedure, she would talk about our ice cream plans while I tried not to move or pass out. And of course, no matter how it went (I only needed the smelling salts once...), we always went out for ice cream afterwards. It made the lengthy ride and uncomfortable procedures much nicer.

Skip to adulthood and cancer. I am still in the habit of treating myself to something nice right after doctor visits, tests and procedures. Sometimes my husband and I go out to a special restaurant after the check up that takes place 100 miles from home. If alone on those visits, I head to the shopping malls! When I'm alone after CAT scans done locally, I usually treat myself to an extra special cup of coffee. Sometimes I go out to breakfast. Big or small, expensive or not, those treats make the day a better one.

Cancer tests and visits are needed, but the fear is not. Make the day a good one by planning something fun or special right after each visit or procedure. Learning to make the most of each day was a good lesson I learned from my mom.

As for the "I can't sleep because I'm not sure if the cancer is back" kind of fear, I had to give that to God. He was big enough to handle it and I wasn't. Time passing helped some too as did meeting long term survivors. Now it has been almost four years since the last bout and I'm still doing well. I wasn't sure I would make it a month when this started. So hang in there! It gets better!

C. Abbott

C. Abbott

nanaof7
Posts: 127
Joined: Feb 2009

I am feeling the same way my shoulder and my ribs have been hurting for 3 weeks now and I am resisting the urge to run to the dr. because I am worried about cancer spread. how do I know when it is a legitimate reason to go. What are Dr. suppose to do to look for mets. how do they find them and what are the symptons.My dr. only looks at my chest what about my liver bones and brain how will I know if it has spread

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soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

If you are experiencing persistent pain, nanaof7, I would suggest that that is a quite legitimate reason to see your family doctor/general practitioner and would be even if you had never become a cancer survivor.

He or she should be able to assuage both your pain and your fear and, if not, refer you to someone who can.

With respect to your concerns about metastasis, nanaof7, as I and others have pointed out, following surgery and/or other treatment options, you should be seeing OncoMan periodically, following a visit to CatScanDo (with apologies for my unnecessary and silly names for people, places, and things :)). In my case, which I think is fairly typical, for the first year you can expect a scan every three months (along with that visit to OncoMan to assess results); the next year may see those scans stretched out to a six month gap and then, ultimately, to once a year.

As Marc indicates, when you see OncoMan you should also be having some bloodwork done that they use to test for certain markers among other things (they are probably checking your white and red blood cell counts, among others).

Otherwise, if cancer takes off for other ports, it will let you know eventually, as you very well know.

Take care,

Joe

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

Welcome back, Ms. Abbott! I thought you had abandoned us.

Good to see you.

Take care,

Joe

marc1957
Posts: 79
Joined: Oct 2009

Your doc should be doing blood work/cat-scans/x-rays periodically. Hopefully if there is something wrong, it would show up in the blood work. Typically there are a ton of nerves that are cut ( assuming between the ribs surgery ) and they need to heal & grow back together - sometimes that is painful, I had that for about 6 months. It seemed to take my breath away when it occurred. The frequency of them occurring was less as time went away.

I feel your pain about the worries. In the 12 months directly after my surgery, we had a baby. Then I had a kidney stone & I was P'ing blood, I thought of cancer, nope. Then 2 months later, I had a hemaroid(sp?) and was pooping blood, I thought cancer for sure, nope....

but each time there was a trip to the doc, a cat scan/xrays etc..............

The bottom line for me was, dont worry about what you cant control, I know, easier said than done :-)

Good luck !

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