You are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about! Lets start simple, if you've never had a port you probably don't have any idea what I'm talking about.
I have the Bard PowerPort. I refer to it as my port and there have been countless occasions where I have been able to use it as a starting point of discussion. Discussion which ultimately leads to me having a quick little educational chat with the individual about cervical cancer. That is a total bonus of the port for me, since I am focusing on advocacy. That is obviously not the reason I choose the port in the first place. I choose the port because it was going to help me beat cancer!
I can remember vividly when I was told my cancer had returned and I would need to start an aggressive treatment regimen including chemotherapy and radiation. One of the first things I thought about what was all those needles! You see, when I had my trachelectomy in 2012 the nurse went to put my IV in my hand for surgery. I remember that when she went to hit the vein it "rolled". Instead of pulling the needle out and starting over again she twisted the needle. It has mentally scarred me, to this day. I knew that I wasn't up for an extensive treatment plan which included having to be poked repeatedly with needles. I signed off then and there to get my PowerPort placed. My gynecologic oncologist 100% agreed with my choice and got it scheduled right away so we could get started with treatment. We talked about how it would help "save my veins" because the chemo wouldn't be running through them. We talked about how I could use the PowerPort as my access point for surgeries, hospital stays, and scans. I was on board!
So, what is a port? A port is a device which is placed under your skin and directly connects a small flexible tube into a blood vessel. It is implanted under your skin and then accessed via a special needle. This access point is used instead of an IV access point. You can receive chemotherapy, fluids, medication, IV infusions, and have your blood drawn all through your port.
How is a port put in? Mine was placed under my skin in an outpatient procedure in May 2014. It was a very quick procedure. My gynecologic-oncologist scheduled it with a surgeon who specializes in this type of surgery.
Will I notice it? Looking at my picture in this post, you can see my port. It is above my right breast near my shirt line. When looking closely, you can even see the protruding bumps which are telltale of a PowerPort so the needle can be placed accurately. If you look really closely you can even see the catheter that runs into my vein. Everyone is going to have a different comfort level with this. As I said, I love my port. It signifies that I am not just going to sit around and let the cancer kill me. It gives me an easy way to transition a conversation into a piece of advocacy. It is a part of me, and I embrace it.
Will it hurt? Thinking back to when I had my PowerPort placed in May 2014 there was some tenderness. I can remember wearing tank tops with one sleeve down during the healing process so that it wouldn't be irritated. I can remember back to a time, when my port was newly placed, at the park with my son when we were racing and I felt like it was "bouncing" under my skin. Not pain, but absolutely a strange sensation. Now, I rarely notice it is there during normal activity and when wearing normal clothing.
Why should I get a port? I know women who didn't get a port, who don't regret it. I know women who didn't get a port, who do regret it. I think that this is a personal choice you need to make with your healthcare provider. However, personally, I would get the PowerPort again in a heartbeat. Everyone expects their cancer experience to go as planned. No one expects to be the small percentage that has a complication or has the cancer return. I have had my port accessed countless times. Thinking about my course of treatments since I had my port placed in May 2014 I've had chemotherapy, PET scans, radiation scans, IV infusions for weeks at a time, hospital stays, blood draws, and surgeries. All of these times I've been able to use my port as the access point.
Cindy Johnson Boudoir Photography & Gretchen Boyd Photography