January 24, 2015

It’s real.

Not that I ever thought my cancer wasn’t real, but having a port in your chest makes it physically real.  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s uncomfortable and actually hurts a bit that makes it more real.

A port (mine is a mediport) is an implantable device, placed under the skin used to give therapy or withdraw blood.  It’s a small reservoir with a rubber septum that can be repeatedly punctured with a special type of needle.  There’s a catheter (tube) which runs from the reservoir into the superior vena cava, a nice big, short vein that will spread the chemo drugs quickly

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The port, while a little bigger than a quarter in diameter, sticks up from my chest a lot more than I would have thought.  Right now it hurts, and itches like the devil.  Tylenol is my friend.  I’m hoping the pain will go away as my body adjusts to it; experience tells me it will.

The procedure to put the port in was quick and easy.  It took more time to get me all prepped than to do the actual install.  It was also done under conscious sedation, similar to that of a colonoscopy.  I fell asleep, but there was none of the grogginess or nausea which accompanies anesthesia, and for that I’m grateful.  I was talking to all of the nurses during most of the procedure, but once they put the drape over my face to sterilize the install area, I just closed my eyes and slept.  I never even laid eyes on the doctor who actually performed the procedure.

I had a long conversation with Dr. Priya on Thursday morning which I forgot to mention.  I want to make sure that my doctors are in sync with delaying surgery until mid-August.  I hadn’t actually heard if Dr. Priya had talked with Dr. Ching, so I called Jennifer, the nurse educator, to find out what she could.  (BTW, it’s really great to have someone I can call for things like this – someone who can  help navigate the system for me.  PAMF is pretty great.)

Long story short, Dr. Priya said that Dr. Ching is a by-the-book doctor, and yes, current protocol is that my surgery should occur no later than six weeks after the end of my chemo treatment.  However, Dr. Priya pointed out that something could happen during chemo treatment – I don’t tolerate the drugs well and we have to change them, the treatments could take longer, etc – any number of things which could extend the end of my chemo treatment.  If by chance my chemo treatment ends on time at the end of May, then Dr. Priya said that I am still the one who can decide what should be done. She offered to delay the start of chemo by a week, but was uncomfortable delaying it by a month, because the cancer is still actively growing.  I declined – I’m mentally ready to get going, and I’ve got everything set at work and with my sisters for rides and company.  Let’s rock and roll, I say!

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