Port or Not to Port
Last updated: April 2023
Many know all too well the headaches that are involved when getting chemo weekly. Not only is the process long in most cases, but it’s also ruinous on the veins. Like I always say, everyone’s experience is and can be very different, but I think I can speak for many when I say that having a line drawn for their medication is never an easy process. Though there are various stages of treatment and different medicinal cocktails; most are provided in a variety of ways. Whether Dexamethasone (usually a pill), Velcade (subcutaneous shot), or a Carfilzomib (IV drip); you may adapt to preference if any at all.
My first 'ouch' moment
I always say a needle is a needle, but the complexity of how one form of the method can actually deliver the medicine quicker than other forms is something to be noted. I was on treatment if my memory serves me (sometimes I forget the exact details) for four years. The game plan was to be on a three-year plan... three years! That’s a long time. The added year was to try a new drug that actually got me to remission. The new drug was in the form of an IV.
I was fortunate or I would like to think about skipping the ups and downs or more so downs to having an IV, but this drug did not call for an easier route. It was grueling as I would be plagued with small veins, so that alone made my experience, not the most pleasant. My left arm always did me good over the years whenever blood was needed for any type of lab work. The help of a tourniquet helped pop my vein lovely for what was needed; well less than a year of chemo that changed. My vein delivery became less available, and that left me with an eagle eye (if I was lucky) finding a vein to hold the IV. Unfortunately, there were many ouch moments on more than one occasion.
What is a port?
The only thing I knew about having a port was that I would have this foreign object in my body and the likelihood that it would protrude at my skin was high. Ports are surgically implanted medical appliance that helps access delivery of chemo drugs with IVs, and or drawing of the blood. Ports are usually placed under the skin below the collarbone.1
I’ve gone through so much I knew for a fact I did not want to endure this despite the pokes and desperate search each time for a fading vein. My choices started to get limited when they would look at my hand or kept draining my right arm that had that one good go-to vein that not fully tainted. I had my limit as it was becoming anxiety-driven every time searching for a vein, and wouldn’t you know that’s when I got the news we would halt treatment as my spike was consistently at zero. I was so very elated.
Getting a port boils down to comfort and fewer hassles. Can ports hurt? I guess it depends; I’ve heard it does make the process of getting blood way easier, and administering medicine quicker. Just like anything researching the facts and asking questions of your team is the best bet to make the best decision on whether or not to proceed with getting one.
Cons (Yes, let’s start with that first)
- Can get clogged, then you may have to endure getting another one placed
- It can move around
- Not everyone is experienced handling a port
- Saves veins from becoming depleted
- No longer have to get pricked with a needle
If having a port seems scary to process, here a few tips to secure your veins in general: Warm body, Drink plenty of water and try to relax.
The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?
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