I am looking forward to tomorrow. I will be going to the hospital for an outpatient appointment. I am going to have the port-a-cath removed! If you do not know what a port-a-cath is… let me explain. It is an appliance let’s say that is a very convenient thing for us cancer patients. It is a small disk (about the size of a quarter) that has a spongy plastic type raised dome on it with a small tube at the end of it, I guess the tube would be approx 12 inches in length or close to it, I didn’t really examine it that well on the day that it was put inside me. It was surgically embedded into my chest just above my right breast. The tube part of it actually goes inside one of the main veins that supply blood flow to the heart. It’s purpose is to allow a safe way to have chemo administered, blood drawn and other meds given. A nurse will poke a special type needle into the dome, of course your skin is punctured each time, but this port-a-cath has been great. I have been able to shower like normal, go swimming, etc and basically other than the small raised part of skin that you can see, as well as a t-shaped scar, and finding it when I accidentally scratch too hard or bump into something in that area…I don’t even know it’s there. The other alternative to a port-a-cath is to have a pick line put into your arm for chemo adminsistration. However with a pick line I think you have to be careful of keeping it dry. Port-a-caths can remain inside of your body for months or even years, depending on the circumstance. Although I haven’t had chemo since April, I have had to maintain the port on a monthly basis. It has to be flushed every 4 weeks when it isn’t being accessed.
A nurse comes to the house once a month and flushes it with heparin (blood thinner)and saline, by means of injection of a needle. This flushing keeps the line clean and open for future access. So why am I having it removed?
Even though I may need the port in the future, I asked my doctor if I could have it removed. (if I need it again, it can always be surgically re-implanted if the time comes) I want it removed because shortly after it was put in a year ago, I developed blood clots in my arm pit and upper arms (which I am told is rare), blood clots most often occur in the legs. So I agreed to be a part of a study with regular check ups to help others that have this happen. I had to also start with daily doses of warfarin which is a blood thinner medication. Warfarin has to be monitored often. Foods we eat can affect how the medication works. For instance, I have to be careful not to eat too much foods with vitamin K, which are foods that are actually good for me, cruciferous veggies and dark leafy green veggies. Colon cancer patients should eat lots of vegetables and foods with fiber and basically heatlhy clean eating. I feel like I have been a slave to this warfarin medication by having to go for blood tests all the time. Sometimes I go every 10 days, sometimes less often, but most often once a month unless I eat too much vitamin K or other things that affect it. Also, what bothers me most is that if you look in your local Canadian Tire store or garden centre or whatever, if you are looking for something for pest control you can see a box with a big title of Warfarin on it. It is used for rat poison! So why would a normal person want to continue putting this in her body each and every day? Not me. I am done with it. I have to fight cancer first and fore-most, putting rat poison in me is not my idea of doing healthy things for my body. I am not a doctor, but I feel this is the best decision for me.
So tomorrow I will go see the surgeon, put on the usual hospital gown and prepare for another scar. Get this thing out…. no more meds for me. Just vitamins and supplements and healthy foods. I am told I will be black & blue for a week and it will hurt, but this is minor league stuff. It’s funny that despite how many times I have sported a hospital gown, I feel like I am not a patient and I just don’t belong at a hospital and that this whole trip in cancer-land just isn’t real. I have the scars and the pains both physically and mentally that remind me every day that I am living with cancer, but it just doesn’t seem real. Perhaps because I haven’t let cancer penetrate my soul.