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Merle Haggard home following surgery

  |   Nov. 9, 2008 at 10:37 PM
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BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Country music icon Merle Haggard has returned home following lung cancer surgery last week at a hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., a publicist said Sunday.

Haggard -- whose hits include "Okie from Muskogee," "Mama Tried" and "Workin' Man Blues" -- had surgery Monday after it was discovered during an earlier biopsy that he had non-small cell lung cancer. That type of cancer has a better cure rate than the small (oat) cell cancer, Haggard's publicist said in a news release.

Surgeons were able to remove the affected tissue by removing the upper lobe of Haggard's right lung, the release said, and Haggard's recovery went well enough that he was discharged from the hospital Saturday night.

His publicist said when Haggard, 71, awoke after his surgery, he opened his eyes, yodeled and smiled.

"Due to the surgeon, Dr. Peck, the Tylenol pushers on the fourth floor of the Memorial Hospital, and most of all, my wife Theresa, I'm feeling good … better and better each day," the Country Music Hall of Fame member said. "If not for the love and wisdom of my wife, I might not be around today."

Haggard is a two-time Grammy Award winner and was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

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