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Chemo Port Surgery for Breast Cancer Treatment

Chemo Port Surgery

January 2, 2013

Journal Dump #014

WOW what a week!  Today is Thursday and I am completely exhausted!  But the good news is that I am finally feeling better. Not so sick to my stomach, not needing pain pills, no more headache - all good stuff!

Monday - Echocardiogram

Tuesday - Drain tubes removed & expander fill

Tuesday - Chemo port surgery

Wednesday - New Years Day

Thursday - Lymphedema appointment

Thursday - Petscan

Friday - Oncology follow up appointment

48 hours ago I had my chemo port installed.  At the time of my bilateral mastectomy, the surgeon was unsure if radiation was going to be part of my treatment plan, therefore they waited to install the chemo port.  According to my doctors, it is best to place the chemo port on the right side (easier access to the vein apparently).  But my breast cancer is located on the right side, therefore I will be having radiation on the right side...  hence the chemo port needed to be installed on the left side.  Boy, I wonder if that sounds as confusing as it was to type...?

chemo port

Chemo port surgery

The surgery plus recovery time is a total of about 3 hours.  I was given "twilight anesthesia", which keeps you awake but with no pain throughout the procedure. (fentanyl and versed for anxiety.)  This is my preferred method over regular surgical anesthetic because that always makes me so nausious, although I remained slightly nauseated for 24 hours after the procedure, but nothing compared to the full - you are knocked out - anesthesia.  The surgery itself takes 2 hours but for me, it felt like I was on the table for 5 minutes.  The nurses and the doctor were fantastic and funny!  I'm all about the humor.

The small plastic port with a tube (looks like a mouse tail), is inserted into the chest and the tube is connected to a main vein.

shelly straub chemo port surgery


So they explained clearly that they would be cutting my chest just above my mastectomy surgery site, inserting a foreign object that includes a small tube, that would then be connected to the jugular vein in the neck.  THEN they said - you will be fine with just some tylenol for pain.  Well here's what I say:  Let me slice you up, insert a piece of plastic, then stitch it - and let's see how you feel tomorrow!

2 hours after I left, all drugs had worn off and I was in pain.  A lot of pain.  I could feel the plastic thing moving around in my chest and I still feel like there is something stuck in my throat - As if a piece of food didn't go down all the way.  There's a sharp pain, there's a burning sensation pain, there is pain in my back just behind the bottom of the shoulder blade on the same side as the port, there's an itchy, get this out of me, pain.  But again, there is good news -  48 hours later and the pain is basically gone.  It is uncomfortable but no pain pills needed.

They said not to move too much and not to lift anything for two days so it would give the surrounding tissue time to attach itself properly to the port.  It must have done so by now because I don't feel it moving around anymore, although it still itches.  Hope that just means that the stitches are healing.

Many people clinked champagne glasses two nights ago.  Tonight, I am clinking my water bottle and my glass of apple juice because I am so happy that this week is over.  I would like say that I am strong and have been so brave but the truth is that I cried through most of my week.  5 needle sticks, 2 incisions, and some radioactive fluid for my blood stream. Sound inviting?

shelly straub chemo port surgery

ps  Big thanks to my girlfriend Lucia for wiping my tears all week, along with my neighbor Joe who has been snowblowing our driveway non-stop.  With all these appointments, it was great to be able to get in and out of the driveway!  Sometimes it's the little things that make such a big difference.



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