What is a lobectomy?
It is a surgical procedure that removes one lobe of the lung that contains cancerous cells. In my case, I had the lower right lobe of the lung removed and pathology test shows it was 70% cancerous, but the cancer was contained within that lobe only and not the borders or surrounding areas outside of the lungs. (The right lung has 3 lobes, the bottom one was removed-The inferior Lobe). My surgery was on May 10, 2016.This was not your traditional surgery but was a video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). During this procedure, my surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Port https://weillcornell.org/jeffreyport
makes three small incisions and one larger incision around the surgical area. He then insert a small camera in one of the incisions and uses the other for surgical tools. This allows the doctor to perform the lobectomy without having to open the rib cage. Once the problematic lobe is identified, it is removed.
This is a pretty routine operation performed often. My hospital stay was 6 days and recovery is about 3-6 months. Several medications for pain were administered and exercise programs, including physical therapy and breathing therapy. These begin right away. I had to start walking the very next day! And I had to cough too…boy was that challenging, but I did it with a smile or a tear or two. Let’s not even talk about laughing!
I am recovering now since it has been 2 months. My surgery was on May 10, 2016 at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. Preparation began the week before the surgery with blood work and vitals checked. A procedure called Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) was also needed to ensure my lungs are ready for the operation. I was all set and cleared for the operation.
I did not think it would be difficult and the actual operation was of course painless, other than the first needle. However, the recovery that followed was not. I had to take pain medication and medications to lower my heart rate for a few weeks. Sleeping on my back became a challenge. Getting in and out of bed seemed to take forever. I switched to Advil about a week after leaving the hospital. Once in a while I am forced to take a pain pill if the pain becomes unbearable. There has been a few times where the pain became unbearable.
I returned to Florida after the operation on May 30, 2016 and was back at work the next day. It has been somewhat challenging, but I have help at home from my family. What a blessing to have them help me. I currently exercise about 30 minutes a day, pain or no pain. I cry when I need to and rest a lot when I am not at work. I eat well and tend to my home and garden when I can. I mostly rest in my bed or the recliner.
I had to go to the hospital once for a 3 day stay. The surrounding area around my lungs was filling up with fluids, known as Pleural Effusion. This had to be drained, by a process called Thoracentesis. That white area in the x-ray indicates fluid presence. The draining is done in radiology where they inject your back area with numbing medicine and then insert a very tiny tube in that area and drain the fluid into a measure bottle. It is done in an extremely sterile environment to prevent any chance of infection. I had this done twice. However, on July 7, 2016 when I saw my Pulmonologist he said the x-ray shows very little fluid buildup and no draining was necessary. Yeah!!
I had my first of 12 rounds of chemo as part of phase II of my continued treatment on June 27, 2016. One chemo every 3 weeks is the current plan. Every other treatment is a different set of medicines to attempt to kill any remaining cancer cells that may exists. The latest scan showed active cancer cells floating around in various parts of my blood and lymph nodes, to be on the safe side, this is the next treatment steps. So, I am losing my hair again, but for now, I am celebrating my growing short hair for as long as I have it. This hair was starting to grow on me! I hate to see if go.
I am under the care of a dynamic team here in Tavares, Florida at Florida Cancer Specialist. Dr. Maen Hussein is my Florida Oncologist working in tandem with my NY Oncologist, Dr. Popa. Together we all make a great team. With Dr. Hussein’s help I am confident that making the decision to continue treatment here in Florida is the best thing for me at the current time.
I am enjoying each day and celebrating any small successes. I try not to focus on my pain and try harder to manage the pain, when it becomes unmanageable, I just pray and think about other things such as writing my blogs and going for a walk. I do not venture far from home or work. I have not really done much outside of that. I try to go to the movies once in a while. I am just taking it easy and not stressing. I want to extend thanks again to my amazing family for their continued help and support. Without them, I may not be alive today. In the meantime, be safe, be healthy, have fun and enjoy the warm weather all around us. Take care until next time I blog again.
Some more pictures taken on this special experience. Thanks Jennifer Singh, my beautiful niece, who took the time to capture my journey.