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Pneumonectomy and Exercise

Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2010

I had a full pneumonectomy of my left lung 4 years ago due to cancer and was curious if there is anyone out there who has been without a lung this long and been able to exercise? I am survivor over 50 but not yet a senior and am still enjoying living life but have gained more weight than I care to think about. Is there anyone one like me out there? Thanks.

hdbilly1's picture
Posts: 24
Joined: Nov 2010

i have nsclc and had a lobectomy (upper right) then chemo. even though i don't have the lung capacity that i used to, i find that dancing at parties & such really is good exercise for me. i gained about 35lbs. during treatment and have now lost about 20 to 25 lbs just from dancing and enjoying life. (i never used to dance at all) hope this helps you and i'm here if you need to talk, bill

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

There is a lot of research out there showing plenty of great effects of exercise on reducing cancer risk, improving survival time, increasing mobility and making positive mood changes. I had the middle of my right lung removed in 2006. It took two back to back operations for the surgeon to get the right diagnosis and finish up, so I was pretty weak after the final operation. I started with walking in the house. Friends and family later drove me to an empty nearby mall where seniors, pregnant moms, and folks like me "exercised". It was all I could do the first couple of times to make part of a mile. Eventually I got to where I could walk fairly normally and at a pretty good pace. When I got up to a mile, I knew I would be able to walk outside without falling (a real possibility and not one I wanted to experience!). After I could walk a mile outside fairly well and could drive, I headed back to the Y. But at first all I could do was walk on the treadmill slowly. When I got up to 2 miles or so without getting winded, I started back to classes. My trainer wasn't so sure I was ready after I slipped on the bike spinning the first day...but soon I was able to get back in my habit of daily classes. I have spinning on Monday (5:30 AM), weightlifting on Tuesday and Thursday (5:30 AM), cardio classes on Wednesday (5:30 AM) and yoga/pilates on Friday (5:30 AM). Sundays I've tried out the afternoon Zumba class though I skipped out today thanks to a bit of a cold. Saturdays I usually do yard work and that's enough exercise for me. I adopt things and make them easier as necessary, but I keep pushing the limit as far as I can. My exercise pals are friends with a guy who was born with only one lung and climbs mountains for fun, and they keep reminding me that we can live with one lung. It just takes time to build up what's left. So don't jump into a marathon. Gradually start off with something doable for you whether that's a walk around the house or a walk around the mall. Build up bit by bit doing things you enjoy. I like classes and a regular routine. Other folks prefer sports. Some like swimming. Some take dance lessons. Some want something different all the time. The gym isn't for everyone and that's okay. But exercise is good for everyone however you get it.

You may want to talk to your doctor about your plans before you jump into anything. Ask him or her about consulting a nutritionist too for a diet that will help you with the weight goals. Exercise helps, but not nearly as much as diet. Good luck!

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2010

Prior to surgery, removal of upper left-lobe, chemo and radiation -- I swam 4-5 days a week with a group -- between 2700 and 3000 yards -- then had a routine CT scan on a heart mumor where they found the tumor - so I had no symptoms - in good shape and 63 years old at the time. Chemo started in January and ended early April -- while going thru the chemo I tried to swim with my group --- down to about 2 days per week --- by the end of the chemo I was back up to 3 days but not a lot of stamina --- radiation started in June in combo with more chemo --after 3 weeks there was no way I was making it to the pool --- by the end of the treatments I had bad burns etc etc --- got back in the pool in September -- no stamina at all --- the loss of lung really came into play -- not only was I out of swim shape I was just pure out of shape but managed to swim 1500 - 2000 yards -- after 3-4 weeks I could tell my strength was coming back -- now it's Dec and I had to stop again for surgery to carotoid artery !! I was beginning to feel the lung capacity return -- not nearly 100% but certainly good enough to get in an excellent work out. If you can't swim -- buy some fins - cut some of the length off and go for it -- use a kick board as well -- Happy New Year

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