Thursday, September 23, 2010

To Port or not To Port

I am supposed to start Abraxane on Oct. 1st. When the infusion nurses called to schedule, they were very concerned that I didn't have a port and strongly encouraged me to get one. Apparently, Abraxane is very hard on the veins and I have to do this treatment weekly (once a week for three weeks and then a week off).

But I don't want a port. (Aside: just had a funny thought. Remember the saying, "any port in the storm"? I started seeing images of ships and sailors. Because I am single now, maybe I should get a port!!)

"Port" is short for "portacath" and is essentially a catheter that is inserted under the skin that goes into a vein for easy infusions. Many cancer patients get these ports inserted into their chests. Some get a P.A.S. Port in their arms.

I don't want a port.

It's a visible reminder of being a patient. My strong reaction to not having a port reminds me of how strongly I wanted reconstruction. I don't want to *look* like a patient. Plus there are horror stories of patients getting infections from their ports and other complications. Then again, I know of a few patients whonare very happy with theirs.

It's just one more thing, you know.

Okay. No more whining.

The decision now is which one I should get. I really prefer the arm port. My chest area has been traumatized enough with three surgeries and radiation and it is tender. But because both axillary (I.e. armpit) regions are compromised (lymph nodes taken from the right side 8 years ago and cancer and a weeping wound on the left), I am not sure if I should have the arm port.

So I want to talk to someone about the pros and cons before making a decision. Anyone know more about this than I do?


Caroline said...

Having a port saved my veins during chemo. I would have had an awful time after chemo, my veins are very small and hard to access. I have friends with very corded veins now. I had a PowerPort in my chest. I am not sure about arm vs chest ports. I know sometimes people have ports in their abdomen as well. I would talk to the nurses and doctors about options as to where. Good luck!

Dee said...

Thank you, Caroline! I appreciate knowing about the cording. Didn't realize that coiled happen as a side effect.

Connie said...

I also have a PowerPort in my chest..going on 10 mths now and no side affects & i forget it's even there most of the veins started to blow(flat)right from the beginning of treatments(a yr in Dec) due to 3 weeks on & one week off..alittle to much for my ity bity veins..and i don't like being poked more than once lol..good luck in what you decide De

Joanna said...

Hi Dee,

I had my Power Port put in within 3 days of being diagnosed in 2008. It is very non-obtrusive. My port quit giving blood about a year ago but I still get my Herceptin through my port.

I had my port put in on a Thursday and I was able to play tennis that Saturday. It was a non-event and has been useful ever since. My port is on my non-dominant side about two inches below my clavicle. My scar is small and I never worry about it.

Have your veins been easy to access to this point? My veins were hard to access right from the beginning.

Take care. I hope your treatments go smoothly and are super effective.


Caroline said...

I had my port in for about 10 months and at the end of chemo insisted that it come out - I had a love/hate relationship with the damn thing. I loved that it saved my veins and made chemo so much easier but really hated having it in me - it didn't hurt or anything but it was an alien thing in me... But very worth it.

Betty said...

Go with a port. I have had mine in for 14 months and the good news for me is I get to have it taken out in 2 weeks. I'm really glad I had it as it made over 25 chemo/herceptin treatments easy. It never bothered me. Mine was in my chest below the collar bone under the area where my bra stap was. I got a numbing cream which I would put on 30-45 minutes before accessing the port and it the port needle just slid in with no discomfort at all. My port never bothers me sleeping or doing any ohter activity, and when hooked up to the IV pole it is really nice having both hands free. Good luck....

cyn said...

I'll add my voice to the pro PowerPort side. Mine is also below my collar bone, on the right side because my cancer was on the left. Most of the time I forget it is there and I've had it in for almost a year. I will have it removed soon as I am due for my last Herceptin in a couple of weeks.

If I had it to do over, I would ask the surgeon to give me a sedative prior to the procedure because it was unpleasant feeling and seeing what he was doing. But recovery was pretty quick and living with it is a non-issue.

Good luck!

Dee said...

@Joanna, Caroline, Betty, and Cyn, I really appreciate your comments. It makes me less resistant to having a port. It is always nice to hear straight from the horse's mouth.