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Plueral effusion

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello, I normally post on the Peritoneal board but I have a problem that concerns my lungs. I thought there may be someone on these boards who may have experienced
something similar to me.

My cancer was diagnosed after I suffered double plueral effusion. I underwent 3 chest drains within 2/3 weeks of each other before I started on my chemo regime. 4 weeks into my treatment I was back in hospital having my 4th chest drain.

The irony of this was like a kick in the teeth as I was a road runner and used to run half marathons. My biggest concern throughout all of these procedures was not "the cancer" but was "Will I still be able to run?" I was assured by my surgeon that "yes, having a chest drain will not impair your lung function"

However now I have been given a break from chemo and am desperately trying to get back into my running. I had a 5th chest drain last Christmas and after my last CT scan was told I had scarring from all of the procedures.

So, I am trying to build up my running. I know my fitness is getting back in shape as I am able to swim. I went running last night and found myself breathing really hard and at times was struggling. I stopped at one point to be able to get my breath back. It feels like I have a steel band around the bottom of my lungs where the diaphram is and now, today, I just feel bruised.

Sorry to go on, but what I am trying to ask is, has anyone else had:

1. Problems with plueral effusion?
2. Had reoccuring soreness, pain or tightning of the chest after a chest drain?

I ask my oncologist but he is not a lung specialist and all he can say to me "Are you struggling to breathe when you are going about your normal day to day life" When I reply that I am fine and I can manage all of my normal activities he is not concerned.

Tina xxxx

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: Mar 2011

... but I have had the experience of trying to get the exercise regimen (biking, in my case) going again after treatment and compromised lung capacity. I was never Lance Armstrong, but I will tell you that you have to work into it slowly. Expect a lot of weeks where you feel like you're static and just barely getting it done. I've been at it pretty faithfully, stationary and road, since a month after my last radiation and chemo (last July), and just about two weeks ago I felt like I tapped into a new level of capability to go harder and faster against more resistance. Before that, I was half exhausted for at least the first mile, and it didn't feel like I was making any progress at all.

Also, expect ups and downs. Even Lance in his book spoke of being blown off the road by overweight, out-of-shape people when he first got back on a bike.

I still haven't got back into the pool yet, my main sport before. For some reason I have a fear of it, even though the docs would like to see me get back into it. Maybe after next scan.

Bottom line: It will take some time.

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

Thanks for your reply. It is so frustrating to have reached a really good level of fitness for your sport and then to have to let it go and lose it through no fault of your own. As I said I used to run half marathons but I can only manage to run for about 2 minutes now. My legs are itching to go but my lungs scream out "nooooo". I also have the added problem of having gained 2 stone whilst I have been ill and on chemo so I have 2 things to overcome.

I will take your advice and not give up but keep on plodding in the hope that soon I can build up my time. And yes, at my running club there are people there bigger than me and slower than me who can leave me standing.

You should try the swimming. I used to be able to swimm about 50 length before I got ill. I have been back in the pool about 3 months now and built it up to 40 lengths. It boosts your confidence no end and it is enjoyable.

Yes things take time but time is a luxury I'm not sure I have. But I will not give up as I used to like who I was when I was exercising.

Take Care Tina

Posts: 46
Joined: Feb 2011

I had a pleural effusions a few months after my lobectomy. I was short of breath for several weeks after I had the effussion drained.

mamacita5's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Tina I think your level of fitness put you in a position to cope with the effects of pleural effusions better than the average person might. Consider yourself lucky that you were apparently in prime physical condition to begin with. If you take it a little at a time I think you will start to see a difference! I have been 1 year post lobectomy and I still have sore ribs, some shortness of breath and lack of stamina. But I am exercising and have noticed a huge difference over where I was 6 months ago. Keep at it and you will be a roadrunner again!

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank-you for your response. I guess my fitness has been a great advantage to me during my treatment and recovery from the chest drains. I have rested completely since I "over did it" and I must admit I feel so much better. I am just not used to in-activity and find it hard to stand and watch my fellow runners without taking part. But hey ho, life will be forever changed now. I will go back and start at the very beginning again and see if I can just manage a short distance.

Thanks Tina x

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