Tag Archives: lung surgery

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PeggyPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  This is her last blog, a year on from her diagnosis of lung cancer.

 

My last CMAJ blog was written and posted in April, 2015, when I was anxiously waiting the results from a CT scan of my lungs, following surgical and oncology treatment for non-smokers’ lung cancer. I’m overjoyed and relieved to write that the CT scan shows that my lungs are clear, that there is no evidence of disease. Now, I am emotionally free to get on with my life, to try to overcome the residual side effects of chemotherapy, and to regain some of the strength and fitness that I have lost.

I wish it were just that easy! As happened thirty years ago, following treatment for breast cancer, I now find myself asking, “Why me?’ not the unanswerable Why Me? that one asks when first diagnosed, but the Why Me? that follows successful treatment ...continue reading

Peggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  She is now post-surgery and post-chemotherapy.

 

The waiting room for my Thoracic Surgeon is much like any other. The unspoken, unwritten ‘Waiting Room Rules’ seem to apply: No Eye Contact, No Conversation, Appear Calm. With unfocused eyes, patients flip through outdated, uninteresting magazines, or scroll through previously read emails on smart phones. Outwardly, all is calm, quiet and relaxed. However, a rapidly pulsing crossed leg says otherwise....

In a few weeks, it will be my turn to deal with my stress in this waiting room. I will be trying to follow the rules, but the reality is that my anxiety levels will be off the chart. My appointment will be to receive feedback/results/information from my most recent CT scan. ...continue reading

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Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  She is now recovering from thoracic surgery and undergoing chemotherapy.

 

My kind and generous friend, Gary, lives on the bank of the Gatineau River, looking half a kilometre across the water to the rolling Gatineau Hills on the other side. All summer he welcomes me to paddle his boats, especially his Outrigger Canoe (OC). On land, this boat looks cumbersome and awkward, but once launched, its pencil-like hull makes it a sleek and responsive craft. Last July, on the day that I was diagnosed with ‘highly suspicious tumours’, Gary helped me put the OC in the river and I paddled downstream to where the river widens even more, and in the vast solitude of open water and endless sky I wailed and raged at the universe, seeking guidance, grace and the courage to begin the next cancer detour in my life.

Now, nearing the end of February, I am half way through my chemo. The Chemotherapy Treatment Centre at ...continue reading

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Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  She is now recovering from thoracic surgery and undergoing chemotherapy.

 

For years, I have proudly worn my swim club team T-shirt. The slogan on the front reads:

You don’t stop swimming because you get old,

You get old because you stop swimming!

In early January, as I was pulling into the Ottawa Y parking lot for swim practice, the radio announcer said, “For your morning commute, the time is 6:15, and the temperature is -27.”

I wasn’t alone in the pool that morning – there were 15 of us, and another twenty at the later practice. As usual, we moaned to our coach about a kick-set that is too long, and groaned about too many 100 IMs. But the brief bantering is part of the culture, part of the fun, and the coach takes it with a smile. Four mornings a week, for 22 years, I have been going to the National Capital Region Y Masters Swim Practice to start my day. Some of the swimmers who founded the club 34 years ago are still swimming; others devotees have joined more recently. One is an octogenarian. ...continue reading

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Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  She is now recovering from surgery.

 

My Surgery was November 12. I came home from hospital on November 18. Today it's more than a week later and I have a lot to fill you in on!

I am home, physically safe, but perhaps not mentally sound, and in recovery mode. The hospital experience was indeed an adventure! I can only tell you my story from my layman’s point of view. Remember that I am not a medical person, or even a scientific one. So if you, dear reader, are a medical practitioner, please excuse my non-medical explanations!

I predicted that I would have a moment of peace and faith just before entering the OR. Not so. With bed-side visits from a nurse, an anaesthetist and a surgeon, tons of reality avalanched on to me, bringing a flow of tears, even as each one assured me that everything would be fine. I was wheeled in to the Operating Room where a scrubbed and masked medical army introduced themselves and told me their role. Trying to absorb their voices, the gleaming chrome, the tubes, screens and wires, the needle going into my back, I drifted off to never-never land. My opportunity to claim that moment of faith passed.

The procedure, as I learned afterwards, was incredible! Briefly, in non-medical vocabulary, and probably with some inaccuracies, this is it: ...continue reading

Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete.  She will be going for surgery this week.

 

The date: August 6, 2014. The place: Montreal...
Grasping for air and my heart beating out of my chest, I grip the pool gutter for a minute before I can drag my depleted body out of the pool after completing the 200m Individual Medley* at the World Masters Swimming competition. Then I swim down in the warm-up pool, to flush the lactic acid build-up in my body. (That’s a lot of ups and downs in swimmers’ jargon!)

After two days' rest, I will reset my goals and decide what I’m training for next. My "next" events might be another swim meet, dragon boat races, cross country ski loppet, a bike trip, a triathlon or open water swimming season. Thankfully, there’s always the next great event to anticipate!

Flash forward to today....
...and my next event is Lung Surgery, scheduled for Nov. 12, so I reset my goals accordingly.

Since August 6, I have been ‘in training for surgery’. I have been determined to be as strong, healthy and fit as I can be, before going into the operating room. I think there are many commonalities, and stages, between training for a 200m IM swimming race and training for lung surgery. ...continue reading

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Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete, currently in training for major surgery

 

The quiet “little deaths”
of everyday existence
are mourned as much as those
of resounding magnitude,
for grief makes no comparisons nor judgements
and has no understanding
of degree.

These words are the foreword to a small book called To Heal Again: towards serenity and the resolution of grief, by poet and family counselor, Rusty Berkus. The paperback cover, mystical pictures and vivid colours would lead you, perhaps, to think it is a child’s picture book, but it is not. It is a book to help adults along the road to emotional healing.

I don’t remember when I first got this book, but I remember well that I have used it many times. I have cried at each page as I grieved over my parents’ gentle deaths, both age appropriate in their nineties, and over the untimely deaths of cherished friends in their fifties.

In my life, I find that grief is not restricted to the death of loved ones. ...continue reading

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Peggy_newPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher - retired after 34 years in the classroom - and an athlete, currently in training for major surgery
 

I’m Pissed Off!
I’m really, really Pissed Off! It isn’t Fair!
Shall I tell you how I really feel???
I’M PISSED OFF!!! IT ISN’T FAIR!

There, I’ve said it out loud, and in black and white!

Here’s the story of how these two urchins finally penetrated my stability barricade.

Recently, I had my ‘Pre-op’ appointment at the General Hospital. This was a day where ten soon-to-be lung surgery patients were being prepared. First, we had an excellent two hour presentation by a nurse, called ‘Lung Surgery Education’, giving all the details of preparation for the surgery, what to expect during the surgery day, and recovery both in the hospital and at home. Then, individually, we met with a pharmacist, a nurse and an anaesthetist. The purpose was to exchange clinical information and also possibly provide an opportunity for the staff to assess our level of craziness! Would each of us be a compliant patient, or a difficult one?

At my final meeting with the anaesthetist, she did a thorough clinical question-and-answer session, again asking for my previous experience under anaesthetic, and telling me what to expect.

She ended with, “Do you have any questions?”

My burning concern about all of my upcoming treatment has been, “What will my lung capacity and lung function be after 25% is removed?” ...continue reading