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Port for Chemotherapy

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hn
hn Member Posts: 31

Anyone with experience of Port being placed for Chemo?
I was advised that I should get Port placed for my chemo in January.

Comments

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
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    Quite a few of us have/had ports. Once it’s in, makes chemo much easier. Some chemo is hard on the veins. Mine has been in 10 years, don’t want it out, my choice. It looks like a cyst, doesn’t hurt or bother me in any way. I’d do it again. Can start chemo almost immediately after it’s in, also can be used for labs.

  • hn
    hn Member Posts: 31
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    How was your experience with the Port placement? How are the days following the placement? I am wondering if it will be painful and if I will be able to do normal activities in the first few weeks.

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
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    It was done in a very short outpatient surgery. No pain after. I couldn’t lift my 8# dog for a few days, life went on as normal. I started chemo a few days after getting it.

  • maggiehopley
    maggiehopley Member Posts: 113
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    The only difficulty I had with my port placement was finding a comfortable position to sleep in for the first month. I had to sleep on my back, which took some getting used to, but after a month I was able to resume sleeping on my side.

    They told me to put the Emla cream on it 60 minutes before my appointment, but I found that 90 minutes is more effective for me- absolutely no feeling when they access it at all. I have had my port for 7 months now and have 7 more to go and am so grateful I don't have to use my veins!

  • sam2u
    sam2u Member Posts: 43
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    Due to some complications from other surgery, I was awake for the whole procedure-just some pain meds and local numbing. For me the surgery was not bad. However, the day or two after, I did experience some mild discomfort from the site, but nothing that couldn't be handled by OTC pain meds.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,422
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    Hello and welcome hn - I had my port placed as an outpatient procedure, but I was "put under" for it. A friend took me there and back. I actually didn't feel all that bad after I woke up and I insisted to my friend that we stop at a restaurant for lunch - she had thought I should just go home and rest. I was fine at the restaurant except for some slight "wooziness" and soreness at the site, but it wasn't bad; didn't even take Tylenol. Over the time I had it in, as some have said above, it was awkward trying to find a sleeping position and it was "always there" like a lump, but it wasn't too bad; you get kind/sorta used to it.

    What I would really like to emphasize is to get a prescription for lidocaine cream (someone above called it Emla cream). Use it like they said about 90 minutes, not 30, before your chemo appointment; even 60 minutes works pretty well. I didn't feel anything (well maybe just a tiny bit) when they accessed the port for my chemo, since I used the cream. I later read on here that if you don't use the cream, it can be pretty awful. Not to scare you but they literally "punch" you in the chest with a special needle when they access it for the chemo, and pain or no pain, I found that punch a little disconcerting, so I was real glad to have the lidocaine cream. Also, I have continued to use the lidocaine cream for years, and my oncologist has been happy to prescribe a tube for me every year. I use it for blood draws, IV's, and I even used it for all my Covid vaccines and boosters. It really helps with those needle sticks and I am a big baby about needles. No one ever told me before or when I got my port, about the lidocaine cream. I "accidentally" read about it somewhere when I was searching online for general info when I was first diagnosed. When I got to the oncologist's they never told me or offered it either. It was only when I asked about what I had read about that they offered a prescription. I was real surprised that I had had to do the research and make a special request, so do take note of the cream.

    Finally, I just want to say that when it comes time to take the port out, they say it is much easier than the initial placement, so it is almost always done in the office under a local only. Well that idea completely freaked me out, and I told the surgeon so, so he arranged for me to have it removed in the operating room and to be "put out" completely. If you're not a scaredy cat like me, it will probably be no problem for you to just do it in the office, but if you are freaky like me, it doesn't hurt to ask for more. Some do keep their ports in for years if they are going to need ongoing chemo, or just don't want to risk having to have another one put in later. I had mine in for about a year and a half, and then both my surgeon and oncologist thought it should come out. If I wind up with a recurrence or something, I will have to have a new one put in again (perish the thought, but we just never know). Overall, it is a very minor procedure, and you will do fine, I'm sure. Just get the cream. It really does save your veins and they can use it for all sorts of other things like blood draws and any other infusions (like anesthesia) if you should need it, so all in all it is well worth it. Good luck to you, hn.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
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    I was awake for my placement as the "twilight" meds they gave me didn't do anything for me. I recall being very talkative. All I felt was some tugging and pushing, no big deal. Area was a little sore for a few days, but nothing I couldn't handle. As the others have mentioned, it definitely makes getting chemo easier.

  • melbo
    melbo Member Posts: 266
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    I was put out when mine was placed, but because of issues with timing I had my port placed the same morning I started chemo. I was brought into surgery for the port first thing in the morning, went into the recovery room for a while after they were done,and then was wheeled over to the outpatient chemo facility. It was a really long day, but it was all ultimately fine.

    My port was taken out shortly after I finished chemo in the surgeon’s office with just a little lidocaine. It didn’t hurt to have it removed at all.

  • hn
    hn Member Posts: 31
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    Thank you all for your help with my question. Very helpful!

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,933
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    I am going to break my bco hiatus to add to this thread.

    - Not all ports look like a cyst as someone noted. There are a few companies that manufacture ports and while they function in a similar manner they may look different. I have a Bard Power Port. All that is visible are three tiny dots/bumps arranged in a triangle shape.

    - Skin numbing… I was the poster child for numbing overkill. I eventually dropped the EMLA (great stuff!) as my center offered a quick acting numbing spray. Then, they stopped using it! Now, I just use a bit of OTC lidocaine and don't feel a thing.

    - Literally punch you in the chest while accessing the port? Find a new center! Punching implies force and in the many things I've experienced in my 11+ years with a port, nothing remotely close to this has happened. The port is accessed with a Huber needle, specifically designed for accessing ports. Your port is placed under your skin, fairly close to the surface. The Huber needle pierces that thin bit of skin and goes into the silicone septum. No punching and, if you use no numbing at all, less pain than a traditional IV insertion. There is simply no reason to use force or punch anyone. Again, the only thing being pierced on your body is the thin skin over the port septum. Once tour skin is pierced, the needle punctures no other body part.Banish that thought from your mind as there should be only piercing of a thin bit of skin and nothing that resembles getting punched!

    So, yes, I've abandoned EMLA, use OTC lidocaine and also realize it barely hurts.

  • denny10
    denny10 Member Posts: 421
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    I would definitely recommend getting a port. 15 years ago at initial diagnosis I had chemo in to a cannula in my arm . It hardened my veins and mde it diificult 7 years later when I was dx MBC and needed regular blood tests and scans. On one occasion 5 people tried to access a vein. I had the port fitted with local anaesthetic. i could feel pulling and movement but no pain. Within a day , taking painkillers, I was ok. I have had 2 years of chemo infusions and am thankful for my port. Putting the needle in is no worse than getting a vaccination , I have never had any local pain relief. Good luck, with whatever decide.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,422
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    exbrnxgrl - OK, maybe my use of the word "punch" was a bit strong. It is a unique "puncturing" though, and I found it to be on the "freaky" side. I am sure the people at my center (Fred Hutchinson) knew what they were doing and did it correctly. As I've said often, I am a total needle phobe, so my experience reflects that. I do hope people who read what I write, take that into account when they weigh their own decision making. Many do have no problem with needles or having their ports accessed with no numbing. There are also others who are elated to learn about the numbing cream, and then there's everything in between of course. I was just relaying my own personal experience and feelings about it. We are all different, and I think that that is the beauty of this forum, i.e. that we all get to share our own personal experiences, and then those who are new and have questions, can weigh it all and see how it adds up for them, individually.

  • hn
    hn Member Posts: 31
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    I do really appreciate all the feedback and your time.
    I am scheduled for Port placement in a couple of weeks.

    Wishing good health and happiness to everyone in the coming year Smile

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,933
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    threetree,

    I totally understand! Remember, I was once the queen of skin numbing overkill. It's a semantic quibble as the idea of literally being punched in the chest, your words, implying that level of force, was pretty disconcerting and scary! Yes, it’s a skin piercing or puncture and everyone’s level of pain perception is different. Could someone perceive of port access as a literal punch in the chest? Probably but not common nor generally how port access is described. I’m a bit of a stickler for precision in language so when someone writes about a literal punch, well, I take it literally. My apologies if that was not what you intended 😊.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,422
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    exbrnxgrl - I totally understand too! When I used the word "punch" I wasn't thinking of it at all as a punch in the chest with a fist sort of thing, but with that special needle. (Wanting to be precise with language is a good and admirable trait, I might add.) Just the fact that it is up on that flat part of your upper chest, there is a "_____" you name it (smile) that is not like a usual injection or IV, if you ask me. They make a kind of forward pushing motion that is unique to the port access, and then the fact that it is that skin piercing that is different too, added to my perception of the whole thing.

    hn - Most importantly here however, is that you've gotten a lot of information that you have apparently found helpful. I think I am safe saying that all of us who have posted here for you have wanted to give you good, helpful info in anticipation of your experience. I'm glad that you found the feedback helpful and I wish you all the luck in the world with your port placement, and every happiness in the New Year!

  • clemmieluv
    clemmieluv Member Posts: 6
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    Hi...yes, I had a port and it was the best thing ever. Make sure to get some Umla cream and numb the entry before chemo. You won't feel a thing.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,173
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    clemmieluv, welcome to Breastcancer.org, and thank you for your tip! Here's hoping you'll stay connected. We would love to hear more from you.

    Sincerely,

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  • sadiesservant
    sadiesservant Member Posts: 1,875
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    Hi hn.

    I’ve had my Bard Power Port for a couple of years and it’s awesome. It makes chemo so much easier, particularly those that can burn the skin. (It was when I started on Vinorelbine that they recommended it.) I found the procedure to insert it easy, no sedation required. It was a bit sore for a day or two as they have to tunnel under the skin a bit but OTC meds were all I needed. My port does show, looks like a cyst as others have said. It depends on your physique - I’m quite slight in the chest area. As to accessing it, I’ve never needed any numbing or been offered it for that matter. It’s just a slight pinch/sting when the needle goes in and I find it helpful if they count down so that I am prepared. Don’t want to jump!

    I wish I was able to use it for everything but here it has to be accessed by an RN. Often they aren’t available when I have scans and the lab techs at the private blood labs are not qualified. Now that I am off chemo I do need to go to have it flushed every four weeks as it has a heparin seal (avoids clots).

    Feel free to reach out with a PMif you have any questions.