When I went through chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s 15 years ago, ports were not standard. So this part of treatment was completely new to me. Basically, the port’s function is to provide easy access for blood draws and to save a patient’s veins.
On February 10, 2016, I became the proud owner of a Bard PowerPort. Click the link if you are interested in some really official sounding information from the manufacturer. The port is fairly small, about the size of a quarter. It has a silicone circle, called a septum, in the center. This is where the needle goes for chemotherapy or drawing blood. The three bumps outlining the septum allow anyone accessing your port, doctors, nurses, techs, etc., to identify which port is installed and its precise location. The port connects to a catheter which then connects to a large vein in the chest or neck. So what goes into the septum, goes into the catheter, then flows into the vein to disperse throughout the body.
The port is placed on the arm or chest. Because I had cancer in my right breast, my port was placed on the left side. It is usually placed on the opposite side of the cancer site. Both the chest and neck incisions were covered with surgical tape. I was pretty sore for about a week. Every movement seemed to “pull” on it, but really, it was the tape that drove me crazy. My surgeon had told me to not pick at it, to just let it heal. However, the edge started to peel up. So it not only itched, but my compulsion to pick at peeling tape drove me crazy—which I do anytime I see a peeling sticker or tape because
IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED peeling is annoying. In a way, I was fortunate that I started with chemo rather than surgery. I would have been very unhappy having surgery on both sides at the same time.
I was given a Lidocaine cream to apply one hour before chemo. This numbs the area. For me, I could take or leave the cream. It is simply much less painful to access the port than it is to access a vein in my arm. I didn’t even feel a pinch! Having done this before, I can honestly say that the port makes chemo a better experience. The port can stay in pretty much indefinitely.