Griffin Worried About Her Voice after Cancer Surgery
- Comedian Kathy Griffin, 61, recently expressed her fears that her voice will not return to normal following damage done to her vocal cords during surgery to treat her lung cancer.
- Griffin, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and has been public about her diagnosis and cancer battle. She was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer.
- Reach out to a professional for help if you’re struggling with difficult emotions amid your cancer battle or in remission.
Griffin, who lives by the ocean in Malibu and is married to Randy Bick, 43, recently expressed fears about regaining her voice fully after cancer.Read More
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Kathy’s Lung Cancer Journey
Kathy Griffin was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and has been very public about her diagnosis and cancer battle. 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
Griffin had surgery to treat her disease, which, as she shares, impacted her voice and her 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. 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.
Voice Stress & Coping with Emotions During Cancer Remission
After a cancer diagnosis, many people struggle with having emotions like grief, anxiety, fear, anger, and even depression. Griffin sharing her fears around her voice not coming back is a good way to work through that fear; when you share your pain and fears, they tend to subside a bit.
That’s why speaking with a social worker or therapist throughout your cancer journey may be beneficial for you. If you’re struggling with anxiety about any part of your cancer treatment or remission, as Griffin is, consider getting help from a trusted professional. You don’t need to go through your battle alone, and help exists for whatever you’re going through.
Dr. Scott Irwin of Cedars-Sinai says in an earlier interview, “Depression is a really interesting topic, because a lot of people assume that, oh, they have cancer. They must be depressed. That’s actually not true. 85% of patients do not get what would be considered a clinical depression. 15% do.”
“For prescribing medications for depression in the context of cancer, I often try to choose medications with the lowest side effect profile,” explains Dr. Iriwn. “If patients are getting hormonal therapy, there’s particular antidepressants that we can’t use, because they may lower the effectiveness of that hormonal therapy. And so we choose antidepressants that don’t impact the cancer care. Depression and stress make it harder to treat cancer, make it harder to tolerate the treatments.”