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Lifting After Cancer Surgery

It’s been awhile since I posted on here. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer this January and had an open partial nephrectomy in March to have it removed. The recovery has been slow and painful but I’m getting better. Right now I’m looking ahead to when I can start training again.

I was wondering if anyone hear has had kidney surgery or any type of major open surgery that cuts through the abdominal wall (I’ve got a ten inch incision going through my lower abs and back). My doctors normally only deal with people in their 70s and 80s and haven’t been able to give me much advice on getting back into athletics.

The last thing I want to do is herniate the stitches. But considering that I weighed 175lbs. before the symptoms from the cancer showed up and now I’m barely 120 I want to be able to lift again. If you guys have any stories or advice on weight lifting after surgery it’d be greatly appreciated.

sergius

[quote]Sergius wrote:
It’s been awhile since I posted on here. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer this January and had an open partial nephrectomy in March to have it removed. The recovery has been slow and painful but I’m getting better. Right now I’m looking ahead to when I can start training again.

I was wondering if anyone hear has had kidney surgery or any type of major open surgery that cuts through the abdominal wall (I’ve got a ten inch incision going through my lower abs and back). My doctors normally only deal with people in their 70s and 80s and haven’t been able to give me much advice on getting back into athletics.

The last thing I want to do is herniate the stitches. But considering that I weighed 175lbs. before the symptoms from the cancer showed up and now I’m barely 120 I want to be able to lift again. If you guys have any stories or advice on weight lifting after surgery it’d be greatly appreciated.

sergius[/quote]

I really dont have any advice as such to give about coming back to lifting after such major surgery…

But I just wanted to say FAIR PLAY! and I admire you for going back to the Iron and going again, as where most would have not bothered. I’m sure you can get to where you need to be.
Good luck and I wish you well.

Oh! and fair play for beating cancer and kicking it’s ass! a brave feat in anyones book I think.

Congrats on beating the big C! I also had cancer but haven’t had abdominal surgery. I had breast cancer so they cut thru my pecs. It took me about 8 weeks to return to the gym and I had to start with 5 - 10lb dumbells. It was definitely a humbling experience.

But truth be told, I did a strongman contest (lightweight womens division) 7 months after the 2nd surgery.

Good luck to you! Keep us posted on the recovery/rehab!

Hot AZ, that’s amazing news on your comeback! Did you do any kind of rehab before getting back in?

Thanks
sergius

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I had abdominal surgery only about 1.5 months ago. The doc told me no lifting for at least 8 weeks or risk a hernia. Well, I waited about 6 weeks and have stuck to isolation lifts that do not recruit abdominals. I really do want to get back to DL & squats though.

A reason they might not be telling you how long to wait is out of fear that if you end up with a hernia after waiting however long they told you to wait, you’d sue them. Just a thought.

I was lucky enough to find doctors that allowed me to continue to train. The first plastic surgeon i saw told me I could go back to the gym and get on the treadmill but that tire flipping and truck pushing were out of the question.

The drs I ended up using were all totally cool, they allowed me to continue to weight train and my plastic surgeon came into my room after recovery and made me put my arms over my head less than 12 hours post op. Since I was only 34 when i had the surgery, i bounced back better than most of the breast cancer patients who are usually 15+ years older.

The only rehab i did was on my own, in my garage. I honestly started with 2lb dumbbells and worked up from there. I still don’t do much direct chest work because of the reconstruction/implants but everything else seems to be fine.

I’m on tamoxifen which as a women, kills your metabolism. Even so, I am planning on competing in a Figure contest in 12 days!

I’m excited to watch you progress back into the gym. Just be careful and listen to your body, that’s the biggest thing I can say. You’ll know when you’ve done too much…

I feel for you and Good Luck,I had the lymph system in my groin ,lower stomach area removed about 4 yrs. ago because of cancerous growth.i tried to start working out as soon as possible but i remember it took about a year to year and a half to be able to do sit ups,pull ups without my incision feeling like it was pulling apart.

also just did body weight squats, lunges, step ups etc. for lower body.the radiation treatments really affected my colon ,gave a lot of pain and made it feel like it was going to explode,Could only work out on days when felt good.now can do pretty much any exercise but once in a while incision still gets tender and have to take it easy.

I was fortunate not to lose much weight actually started to eat to much when Doc said i had cancer because a lot of old guys that i worked with got it and shriveled up and were gone pretty fast.I figured if i gained weight that would give me more time if they could’nt get rid of it.

I did Mentzer’s routine ,rotating squats ,stiff deads ,dips and reverse grip pulldowns,calf raise for 2-3 sets depending on energy level,on day one. And on day two deadlifts ,overhead press ,pulldowns ,calf raise for 2-3 sets in giant set fashion.then when i could i added other exercises here and there.Good Luck!!

Hope everything goes well for you.I’m 48 so it takes me longer to come back now than it use to.

Thanks for all the support and advice guys. You’re definitely making me feel better about my decision to go with open surgery rather than laparscopic–while lap would have been a lot less invasive the chances of the doctors succeeding in saving the remainder of the kidney were lower,

wings_931–Thanks for the kind words. And nice choice of phrase, “fair play.” I don’t hear that too often in Manhattan.

Wookie–I see what you’re saying about the doctors not wanting to put a concrete date out there. They did say though that most patients resolve all of their post-op symptoms after about 6 months. The only thing I worry about is that my body has a history of scarring excessively and I hope that that hasn’t happened around the incision.

Hot AZ- I’ll probably be doing exactly what you did when I start back out. A friend of mine is a student resident advisor at my school, and he’s let me put a bench and home-made rack in his dorm. That way I’ll be able to lift my 2lb. weights in private. Best of luck in getting back into competition. You’ve already beaten your toughest opponent.

ron33-The fact that you were able to do Mentzer style training to failure after a surgery like that is a testament to how much the human body can recover. Thanks for the inspiration. When your incision does get sore is there anything you do to help it relax? Massage, ice, Traumeel?

Yes ,Just as you mentioned,a little massage,ice and some over the counter non allergenic body lotion that my wife uses.Again ,Good Luck!!!

Hey Sergius, just wanted to wish you well on the surgery recovery and the road back to 175lbs. I suspect it won’t be long before you’re right back there.

I had colon cancer surgery when I was 20. I had a 10" incision running vertically through my abdominal wall to the left of my navel. I went into the hospital at 205lbs and came out 1 week later at 185lbs.

It was 1 month after surgery before I started training again and I had to take it slow. But like I said, I was 20 at the time. I guess it depends on how old you are. I think you can eventually get back to where you were with your training, just take it slowly and get a lot of good nutrition to help your body heal.

Good luck.

Did any of you guys experience muscle atrophy in the region below the incision? I can still flex my lower abs on the left side but they are definitely smaller than those on the right. I’m really hoping that this is just short term and I haven’t lost the use of some motor nerves.

I’ve talked to my surgeon about this and he said that most nerve damage form the surgery resovles itself after six months. Did you guys go through anything similar?

p.s. Unfortunately, I’m not going to begin lifting again as soon as I hoped. Some of the scar tissue from the surgery caused a blockage in my kidney. Now I need two more surgeries to remove it.

thanks for the support
sergius