Recovering from a lobectomy: Hi Everyone... - Lung Cancer Support

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Recovering from a lobectomy

SOBALSO profile image

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the site. I am a 78 year old man with COPD, otherwise healthy and asymptomatic. In Sept. 18, I went through a routine CT scan to keep track of the nodules in my lungs. Changes were noted nodule grew to 2 centimeters. The Radiologist suggested that I repeat the test in six months but my family MD wanted me to repeat the test in one month. (She saved my life) One month later changes were noted again and was sent to do a PET scan. Only place that was lit up was the nodule in question. Next step was a biopsy which came back as Stage 4 lung cancer and markers placed it as originating in another part of my body. After numerous further testing it was the opinion of four different doctors that the markers were wrong, no other cancers were found. In Feb 2019 I had a lower lobe lobectomy plus a resection of the middle lobe (robotic) and all lymph nodes were clean but the tumor was now 7 centimeters when removed. I was now classified as Stage 2 B adeno carcinoma and because of the size of the tumor preventative chemo should be taken. I might add that the surgical pain itself was not that bad and most of the pain had subsided by week three.

Sorry to bother you with all the above details I just thought it would be easier for someone to relate to the entire episode. My questions: My Doctors tell me I am too weak to take the chemo, I have no energy and am constantly fatigued, blood test all come back normal and the Doctors tell me I look great. The slightest exertions also has me out of breath? Has anyone else had this and what was done to alleviate the symptoms? Forgot to mention that they think I am depressed and started me on Lexapro three days ago.



23 Replies

Hi Sobalso

Welcome on the site. It is very interesting what you have said. I have one module but may have been there for years and they were not sure if it was benign or malignant but mine wasn't lit up so i have not had it removed. I think it depends a lot on who looks at the scans and at what angle as mine had various sizes but having said that I will probably bite my tongue.

I had chemo as a preventative. So far so good...that was in 2012!

Keep in touch and let me know how you get on and sorry if I couldn't be more helpful but there are a lot of us on this forum that Will help you and obviously sre supportive to one another.

Best wishes


SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to hedgehoggy

Thanks Hoggy and I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Hi Sobaloso, I have been where you are at , but at the time just 61 years old. My advice is to slowly start moving/walking/exercising just a little bit more each day. Only after you get yourself stronger and feeling better would I have the go/no go discussion on chemo. ( Chemo can be quite harsh, especially on compromised immune systems) . I would also suggest they do another PET scan prior to any chemo, because if it comes back ok, I would definitely refuse chemo at this time. I personally have had maximum radiation, top right lobe lobectomy and 2 years chemo. Best Wishes, judg69

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to judg69

Hi judg69,

I'm 9 weeks out of surgery and I have been doing the pulse breathing exercises and walking but it's difficult. I have always been active and have bounced back quickly after an illness or previous surgery but this has me on my knee's. No pain, just SOB and fatigue. I agree with you on the no chemo until I get better. Thanks for the advice.

Hang in there, friend. I am glad to hear you were open to taking the lexapro—you can’t expect to be able to simply “look on the bright side” when going through what you are (not to mention the physiological drivers of depression, not just situational). I have been taking it for years and increased the dose a bit when I was diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC.

Once at stage 4, surgery is not typical protocol, so I cannot respond from personal experience about your current recovery. But it sounds to me like they removed some of at least two lobes of your lungs. Recovery from that will take patience, perseverance, and TIME for you to regain your lung capacity and energy levels. (That’s why surgery isn’t typical if chemo is going to be required...a body can only take so much assault). Recovering from chest tubes and a pleural effusion were extremely difficult for me simultaneous with chemo at otherwise very healthy age 44 at the time, so I expect your doctor has reason to be concerned about your starting it right now. I am fearful on your behalf, though, because of how much that nodule grew so quickly. would a second opinion be possible for you? Be kind to and patient with yourself. Keep asking your doctor questions. When are you scheduled for another scan?

I’ll pray for you tonight.

Hi Jennifer,

I was reluctant to take the Lexapro but our family MD convinced me to try it. I guess it takes about ten days for it to work. I'm on day five. I have actually had four second opinions all from competing medical centers and they all agreed that the markers were false and the cancer originated in the lung. All recommended surgery which I had done at the Cleveland clinic in February. I had a CT scan done about two weeks ago. Thanks for your thoughts.

I pray everything works out well for you and your family.

It sounds like you are covering all the bases. The only negative side effect from the lexapro for me was weight gain (5 what?!). I look forward to the day when mental health is cared for as well as physical health. I couldn’t live with the challenges of cancer treatments without the mental health treatment (i have terrific onco-psychologist at my cancer center, utilize prayer and other meditation, and take lexapro simultaneously with the chemo.)

best wishes

Hi and welcome! I am wondering if you are on oxygen therapy. I was put on oxygen 24/7 by my pulmonologist, and have to say it has made a big change in the amount of energy and decreased the SOB. In addition to regular daily vitamins, the addition of b-12 has also helped with the energy. Exercise is important - start small and work your way up - also, spread it out through the day instead of exercising all at once so that you don't tire yourself out. I did not have surgery, instead they used a massive dose of radiation to kill the largest tumor. The other two largest tumors, along with multiple smaller ones have remained stable since. Like you, it was recommended that I wait for the 2nd scan, and instead I sought a 2nd opinion - it saved my life. Because the oncologist was so awful, I fired him and have an oncologist who now stays on top of things. Praying that everything works out in your favor and you can quickly return to feeling better.

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to anrean

Hi Anrean,

I guess I forgot to mention that my oncologist put me on 24/7 oxygen from day one but on last weeks visit he told me to use the oxygen only when I exert myself during exercise. To be truthful I didn't see any difference using the oxygen. I had a B12 shot 3 weeks ago and it seemed to help, I'll ask again. I take 1 a day vitamin along with Ensure Max daily.

I'm glad to hear your tumors are stable and you are doing well.

anrean profile image
anrean in reply to SOBALSO

Hi My mother had lung cancer 28 years ago. Now has emphysema and COPD. Her doc has her on O2 and although she says she doesn't think it helps, he stressed very strongly that even though she doesn't think it helps, it very much does! He calls it "brain food" Also, please pray - she is at the doctor this afternoon because of a sudden huge lump in her breast. I'm a 2x breast cancer patient, so there is a strong history. NO injury to the breast or falls. She is 84, and very active.

I agree with anrean, if you are not already on oxygen maybe you should be. Being low on oxygen can cause lack of energy, and feeling tired all the time (among other issues). Walk as much as you can tolerate, even if its just around the house. Your'e only 9 weeks post-op, give yourself time. I also agree with judg69, chemo is very harsh and very hard on the body, so maybe take a little time build your strength up beforehand if at all possible.

Almost 6 years ago at 56 I was diagnosed with mild emphysema as well as LC. I lost the upper left lobe to stage 2 squamous cell LC, took me about 3 months to start feeling like me again. Three months post op I tried chemo just to try to kill off any cancer cells that may be lurking and waiting to strike. April 2018 I lost the upper right lobe to stage 1a. That time I came home from the hospital on oxygen 24/7. It took me about 3 months to get my breathing to the point that I no longer needed the oxygen. It still hurts a little to take a deep breath (but I'm still kicking). I am now 62.

Hi Katherine,

Please read my reply to Anrean. So sorry that you had to go through 2 lobectomies. Can you tell me how well you are getting along now and if you have any limitations on what you can do? I wish you future good health.

It sounds like you are getting good medial care, I'm glad because that is important. Give yourself time, do as much as you can as often as you can.

I'm doing okay, like I said..still kickin. Breathing sometimes get sucky depends on the weather. I also have sleep apnea, but had to stop using my CPAP machine shortly after the last surgery, had a hard time exhaling against the machine. I was walking 3,000 + steps a day, but my leg and knee would start to ache so I had to slow down a bit. I also just found out I need hip replacement surgery. But I'm still here, still above ground, so life is good.

I hope you are doing better.

All the above replies are full of excellent advice. You have just lost 2/3 of a lung which greatly reduces the amount of lung tissue to provide oxygen to your body. On top of that you have COPD which also reduces the ability of your lungs to provide your body with oxygen. This might explain your shortness of breath. It can take time to slowly rebuild your stamina. Oxygen might also help.

My surgery was 4 years ago and I never returned to my pre surgery state. I easily become short of breath, but function fairly well.

I hope your symptoms resolve soon and you feel more energetic.


SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to JeanE41

Hi Jean,

Sorry to hear you never returned to your pre surgery state. I'm probably pushing and expecting too much too soon. Thanks.

JRuth1945 profile image
JRuth1945 in reply to SOBALSO

Yes . We need to come to accept our "NEW NORMAL"

Sometimes that is easier said than done..

I had a lobectomy over four years ago . Never had any breathing issues. Its my understanding that serious breathing issues can result from nerve damage from the surgery itself? something to possibly consider

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to gingerale

Thanks Ginger, I'll bring that up on my next visit.

Denzie profile image

Lots of good advice about starting a gentle exercise program already so let me bring up pulmonary rehab. If you haven’t had any rehab lately request some. Insist on a new baseline pulmonary function test.

You’ve experienced ‘trauma’ with scarring to two of your lobes. I like pulmonary rehab because of the close supervision you get while starting this. They’ll check your pulse, respiration’s and bp several times during the course of each session.

I wish you well and send hope that you build the strength you need for the chemo. When you do please let us know and we’ll help you with some suggestions for dealing with side effects.

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to Denzie

Thanks Denzie,

Good advice and my family MD suggested that on the last visit.

Good morning

Sablso I’m a 49 year old female

Was diagnosed with the same type of cancer in 2016 and also copd I had a right upper lobectomy I did 4 rounds of chemo and I understand the being tired all the time even this long after surgery also was told depressed and I actually agreed but who wouldn’t be with all of that going on. I guess I’m just letting you know your not alone in your fight . Your basically the first person I actually have messaged on here about the cancer I never say my cancer I don’t want it lol who does right. Ok so I actually have other nodules in my lungs they keep an eye on it’s been awhile I graduated to 1 year appointments so we will see in October if it’s back ok I’m going to stop bugging you for now just remember your not alone in all this craziness I hope this has kind of helped keep your chin up

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to Shell311921

Hi Shell311921

Thanks for the kind words. I too have other nodules in both lungs which I get scanned for. I once told my doctor that if I don't have cancer I certainly will get it with all these scans. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) for me the very next scan picked up one nodule that was growing rapidly which lead to my operation.

I'm sorry to hear you're still tired but I'm glad that your oncologist sees fit to promote you to a one year appointment.

My shortness of breath has not improved as yet but my total fatigue seems to be letting up a bit. Hope it continues.

Thanks again.

SOBALSO profile image
SOBALSO in reply to Shell311921

Hi Shell311921,

It's now the end of October and since our issues are pretty similar I was wondering if you had your 1 year appointment as yet. I had four rounds of chemo this summer and finished up 11 weeks ago. My CT scan will be completed the day before Thanksgiving, ironic right?

I feel really good right now but still get short of breath and I am still on night time oxygen.

I hope you are feeling better and pray your news was great.

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