Kathy's Revelation after Cancer
- Comedian Kathy Griffin shares on social media how her cancer diagnosis changed her, and how it’s made her more aware of expressing her feelings to loved ones, she says.
- Kathy was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer earlier this year and had surgery to treat it.
- Kathy’s voice is noticeably more raspy in recent videos; surgery for lung cancer can cause hoarseness in patients, reports the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.
In a new post to Instagram, the comedian shares with fans and followers how cancer changed her behavior, particularly when it came to chatting with loved ones. She says, “Ever since my cancer surgery, I’m one of those people that says “love you” all the time.”
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In the video, Kathy’s voice sounds raspy – likely a byproduct of her recent lung cancer surgery – and she looks glowing and happy, standing in the sunshine with the wind blowing through her trademark red hair as she wears hip sunglasses. Kathy even notes in the caption how she’ll say “I love you” in various circumstances, “Even after discussing potential hairdos. #hair.”
Kathy’s Cancer Journey
Kathy was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. She’s a non-smoker and was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer. A stage 1 lung cancer diagnosis indicates that the cancer hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
Symptoms of lung cancer typically include:
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Constant coughing that becomes painful over time
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in voice or difficulty speaking without getting winded
- Pain in the torso, mid- and upper-back, and shoulders
- Discoloration or a sudden change in color of mucus and saliva
Lung Surgery’s Impact on Vocal Chords
Lung cancer surgery impacts the body in various ways. It may cause fatigue, leaving the patient feeling weak and tired. There’s also the risk of infection after surgery. Signs of infection after lung cancer surgery can include: shivering, feeling nauseous, swelling or redness around the surgical wound, and fluctuating temperature. Speak with your doctor if you experience any of these things.
Breathlessness is also normal after lung cancer surgery. Long-term pain can present as well. Kathy’s raspy-sounding and hoarse-sounding voice – which, prior to her cancer was quite raspy as well – may be an effect of lung cancer surgery.
A study published by the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery examined the risk factors of vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) following lung cancer surgery in patients. The study found that 86–100% of patients reported hoarseness after surgery following RLN paralysis (a nerve injury that has the potential to occur after surgery for lung cancer). And in 45% of the patients studied, hoarseness was the only symptom of VCD after lung surgery.
Understanding Lung Cancer
There are two main types of lung cancer. And the type of lung cancer a person is diagnosed with will inform their treatment path, as well as the predicted progression of the cancer. The two types of lung cancer are:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and makes up about 85% of cases
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is less common, but it tends to grow faster than NSCLC and is treated very differently
Lung cancer is a serious cancer, but fewer people annually are getting diagnosed with this disease because of a decline in smoking rates. Additionally, advancements in treatment options exist, too, which means better prognoses for some patients.
Treatment options for lung cancer can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments. New treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted agents, are dramatically improving the prognosis and quality of life for people diagnosed with this disease.