Post lobectomy recovery time - Lung Cancer Support

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Post lobectomy recovery time


Hi everyone, I'm new to the site, have been reading some of the posts to assist me in learning about what to expect for post-lobectomy recovery time. I'm trying to help my 78 year old father who has COPD and was diagnosed with stage 2 lung cancer in the fall of 2017. He had his right lung bottom and middle lobes removed in December 2017, made it home for Christmas but 3 days later was admitted back at hospital with increased shortness of breath and congestion. He has been in the hospital nearly 6 weeks now and is getting depressed as his discharge date has been changed repeatedly. I'd like to give him some hope by sharing how others coped in the first few weeks/months after this surgery.

Thanks to all who reply!

29 Replies

My post op recovery was slow and lengthy. It took me 6 months before I started feeling almost like my old self and I did not have any other lung issues. I was 73 years old at the time and that was over three years ago. I have never returned to my pre surgery condition and like so many others have found a "new normal" with less stamina and energy.

I hope your father's medical issues can be resolved soon and he can return home. The recovery from lung surgery is long and different for each of us.

Will pray for his recovery and return home.


Helm66 in reply to JeanE41

Thanks for sharing JeanE41...appreciate your input.

Best advice I can give is to do ‘something’ every day, ideally getting up and about , trying to go a little further each day. Secondly, use the breathing devices such as Aerobika and other flute devices. There is no one size fits all , as we are all different. Your father obviously had complications or other issues, but still must start increasing his activity in order to get better. Best Wishes, judg69

Helm66 in reply to judg69

Thanks judg69, I agree...and I encourage him to be up with his walker as much as he can everyday...unfortunately his knees are weak and he wears a support device....he has lost strength in his legs due to the bed rest so this is a he finds using the incentive spirometer hard and is reluctant to use it. I do keep encouraging him regardless.

judg69 in reply to Helm66

Ask the nurses or respiratory therapist to get him an Aerobika or another similar device. These are much easier to use than Spirometer, and he can easily use while reading or watching tv. Best Wishes, judg69

Helm66 in reply to judg69

thanks I will look into this!

Mydadstory in reply to Helm66

He will get up and use that ventilator

Helm66, welcome! You will find support and great practical advice here and others will learn from you as well! Thank you for joining us.


He needs to request pulmonary rehab. They will also help him with some leg strengthening because “healthy legs support better breathing”.

You don’t say what the diagnosis at Christmas was. Did he develop pneumonia or pneumonitis?

Helm66 in reply to Denzie

Hi Denzie, thanks for writing. He does have Physiotherapy visits presently while in hospital and also has rehab set up as an outpatient for when he is discharged.

It was pneumonia that caused him to be readmitted, to my knowledge....and he has been on/off antibiotics a couple of it clears up then returns. He has also had 2 separate thoracentesis procedures to drain the fluid...which has contributed to the lengthy recovery so far.

I’ve had this surgery twice, first time was not a bad recovery. The second time took at least 12 weeks and even then, I was always exhausted.It has been 10 months now and I feel back to normal. Had a happy ct scan yesterday.Hang in there, everyone is different and it hasn’t been that long for him.

Helm66 in reply to 120477

Thank you for sharing your experience, I appreciate it.

Glouie1 in reply to 120477

I’m happy for you:)

Healing definitely depends on many factors, I am slowly but surely getting better every day. I do have quite a bit of post thoracotomy nerve pain below my ribs but I have been prescribed Gabapentin for that. It’s very important that your dad walk to build up his lung capacity and he should also practice controlled coughing, both huff cough and deep cough techniques. It will help clear out his lungs. I hope he gets to come home soon.

Helm66 in reply to Yogamama72

Thanks for sharing ...he is taking Tylenol for pain 3 times a day but I will mention the gabapentin to ask about with his Dr. as he does say there is still pain in his diaphragm, below his ribs.

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I lost the upper left lobe almost 5 years ago, I also have "mild" emphysema. I wound up in and out of the hospital with some sort of infection for 5 months after my surgery, it was a combination of low resistance and my own stupidity. I learned the hard way not to ignore symptoms. I had one ER doctor tell me flat out "your immune system is in the toilet", that got me thinking, and made me start paying more attention to my body's signals.

As for the Spirometer, I hated that thing. During my last hospital stay (for shoulder surgery) they gave me that stupid thing, but respiratory also gave me the Aerobika, so much easier to use, and I think it does a better job of helping to clear your lungs.

Just encourage him to do as much activity as he can as often as he can. Little by little he will build his strength back up.

Thanks for sharing your experience Katherine.

I think he is going through a bit of denial about his situation and the advice given of how to help himself get better. I asked him to tell me honestly how many times a day that he uses the incentive spirometer ...and he admitted he never uses it, says he hates it too. I am pushing for him to get the Aerobika, have asked the nurses to follow up with the Dr to write a prescription for found out it that it is available without a prescription also, for approx. $100. One way or another, hoping he will get it, and USE it.

I've shared some of the stories from this forum with him. I can really see how amazingly courageous everyone is. Good luck to all of you in your own recovery.

I too have COPD and had my lower right lung removed (8cm tumor/stage 2) I'm 2 years out and remembering back, the best advice I can give and what worked for me was I tried to do a little bit more each day or so and tried to keep busy. I have 2 grandchildren that I watch and that helped tremendously. I still get out of breath and it's a long road ahead. Good luck with him and I hope and pray he does will. Sending prayers his way and yours as well. It's even harder on those that take care of us so thank you to you for taking care of him.

Hello Helm66,

In regards to your father every one is different it depends on their health , age and situattion . I had my left lower lung removed six months ago and it has been a challenge with a few post surgical situations . I'm 58 year old young (lol) land atrying to keep a positive mind set along with health . I just completed my after surgery chemo . My thoughts go with your DAD ,,,just keep positive and let hm know your supporting him and loving him and want him to keep fighting .

Prayers are with you -- I am so fortunate --- at 64 I recently had my left lower lobe taken and then almost an exact year later had the middle right lobe taken. God has been good to me and I have had very good, short, and easy recoveries. There are times I am short of breath and trying to work on that with more exercise and breathing my doctor is giving me. So sorry to hear your father has had a hard time ---- I'm hoping to see 78 one day. Will keep you in my prayers and good thoughts. Following your post.

Thank you for your is very inspiring to hear your recoveries were short. My Dad was finally discharged on Feb 14th and has began to walk with a walker. Although he is relieved to be home, I worry about him becoming depressed as he is slowly adjusting to his new normal.

It has been exactly 5 weeks since I had my upper right lobe removed. I am 63 years old. I am still experiencing shortness of breath. I feel like this should be better by now. Thoughts?

FtB_Peggy in reply to twinsrusx2

Hi there, thank you for joining us! From what I have heard from our survivors and thrivers on this site, it is not unusual for you to be experiencing shortness of breath at this time. Are you doing respiratory therapy or respiratory rehab? Do you have other symptoms that concern you, such as a fever? Don't hesitate to call your medical team anytime you have questions or concerns! You deserve answers and reassurance.

twinsrusx2 in reply to FtB_Peggy

Thanks for the welcome Peggy. No therapy or rehab. Just a few exercises and walking. Since I last wrote I picked up a bug somewhere. Just finished 3 days of infusions of antibiotics and steroids. Hopefully I am back on the road to recovery!

FtB_Peggy in reply to twinsrusx2

Sorry to hear that you have been sick, I will pray for a quick and lasting recovery for you. Thank you for the update!

twinsrusx2 in reply to FtB_Peggy

Thank you!

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