Cancerversaries and Chest Tubes

I’ll start with the bad news which was that I, a relatively young, otherwise healthy never smoker, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. So, still reeling from being told of this devastating diagnosis, I found myself in a hospital being prepped for a lung resection.  The days between learning that I had lung cancer and the operation were and still are a blur. All I remember is going through the motions of those days as if I were in quicksand. The “good” news was that it was operable. So on September 1, 2005, 11 years ago today, I had my upper left lung lobe removed because there was a small cancerous tumor in it.  In medical terms it was classified as 2A. There also was a lymph node involved, and it along with 15 others were removed as well which resulted in me having clean margins. (The surgeon delivered this news as if I won the lottery.  He was so happy, and it was good news. My lungs are still cancer free. My lung cancer prefers to live in my liver.)

I don’t remember much about my stay in the hospital as I recovered from the surgery. I do however, remember the chest tube.  The horrific chest tube.   Now, the chest tube was inserted when I was anesthetized and I didn’t even know it was there until it was time to have it removed.  Now that I remember!  The nurse stopped my morphine drip, said she would be right back, left the room and then didn’t come right back.  During that time, the pain gradually got worse and worse. Now I’m pretty tough, but I had dissolved into a mess and was writhing in pain by the time the nurse returned.  My poor mother was doing her best to comfort me, but the pain was excruciating.  I love nurses, but not that one!  She got distracted and forgot about me!

Finally I got home to my own bed.  It felt so good!  My parents were staying with me during that time, and things were going very well until I had to get up that night to use the restroom.  During the day, I had help to get up.  After all, I had a fresh incision in my upper left chest which was very sore. But it was the middle of the night and everyone was asleep.  I tried and tried to get out of bed, but I couldn’t.  I called out for help, but no one heard me. I ended up lying there laughing at how ridiculous the situation was and laughing made it hurt worse.  I finally managed to roll myself out of bed.  Oh, the things one remembers.

I guess technically this is the 11th anniversary of my lung resection which was days after my diagnosis, and I guess it warrants recognition.  I don’t view it as celebratory though. What I do celebrate is the extra time it has afforded me,  how it has made me grateful for all that I have,  how I’ve learned to stop sweating the small stuff,  and how much more I cherish my time with my children and grandchildren.

Remember……Someday is Now




10 thoughts on “Cancerversaries and Chest Tubes”

  1. You share a very familiar story. I was dx in 2010. Had a lobectomy, woke up in intensive care 2 days later with chest tube. Going on 6 years, never thought I would still be here. Hope I go another 6. Cancer Sucks!!


      1. yes it does! I’ve had 4 chest I also had the complication of a pneumothorax when I was just charge from the hospital. Half of my body blew up like a great big balloon because it was getting in they told me to come to ER where I had a brand new resident try to insert another chest tube giving me nothing for pain I told him if he was going to place that inside of me he better get something now I think I would rather have a baby then a chest tube


  2. I am glad you were able to laugh at yourself! I slept sitting in a chair the first several nights. I forget who suggested that, probably a nurse. Definitely made my life, and hubby’s easier.

    Great blog post! Congrats! 👏😀💜


  3. Bless you dear. The 11th anniversary of my lobectomy will be on Sept 21st. And yes, I too remember it in detail – especially the removal of the chest tubes!


  4. I have had for chest tubes after 2 months surgery I was discharged from the hospital and had a pneumothorax on the left side I woke up and looked like a giant balloon on my whole left side is air was leaking in the surgeon told me to come directly to the ER where the new Resident would Place Another chest tube he was not going to give me anything for pain I told him if he was going to insert that he better give me something for pain I would rather have a baby then a chest tube


    1. I agree. That chest tube pain was the worst, and I’ve been through a lot including having babies. At least with babies, you had something to show for it. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot and I hope you got pain meds for that other test tube and I hope that you’re doing well now.


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