Today I had my chemo port removed. That's one more step toward getting back to where I was before my life was upended by cancer.
I finished my chemo treatment in June. During my first appointment after chemo, my oncologist asked when I wanted to remove my port. Being cautious, I wanted to wait for a couple of scans first. I was a bit nervous about having ended chemo. When I was receiving chemo, I felt that the cancer was being kept away. Chemo was sort of a lifeline. Those just starting chemo don't understand, yet, but ending chemo is a brave new world. I wanted the option of resuming chemo quickly if needed. The first week of November I had my 3rd scan, which was clean. My oncologist asked about port removal again, and I'm actually a bit tired of being flushed every 6 weeks, so I agreed. I will miss seeing the chemo nurses that I got to know so well, but not having to flush all the time is nice.
Port removal was easy, but I'm really sore right now. Wide awake for removal, just like insertion. My wife was in the room when it was being removed, so it really is no big deal. Took about 30 minutes. I wondered how removing the line from my vein would go, but the doctor kept pressure on the area for a couple of minutes and that was all that was needed.
It started hurting a bit when I got home - the numbing shots were wearing off. I took a hydrocodone I had left over from my liver surgery last year and went to sleep. Woke up, and my shoulder area where the port was is fairly sore. I was given instructions to keep the bandage on for two days and let the steri-strips and dermabond wear off.
While it's one more step to getting back where I was, I'm still left with reminders of chemo. My fingers and feet are still pretty numb from Oxaliplatin more than a year after I ended that toxic sludge. I'm having arthritis issues from over a year's worth of Avastin. I apparently will never have to worry about constipation for the rest of my life. I have developed a small hernia in an old incision that will need to be dealt with soon. Butt - I'm stage 4 and still alive, so I'm not complaining. Nearly two years after diagnosis and I'm NED. That's worth celebrating.
And I celebrated by buying a new truck and by taking my wife home to Philippines for her first visit in 2 1/2 years. A wonderful country, full of the friendliest people you will find anywhere. And it was nice to travel somewhere other than for another round of chemo. My scans are now every 6 months instead of 3 months - yet another milestone.
To those stage 4 that are just starting your journey, there is hope for the end of treatment. I never became worried, or depressed, or even considered any other option except to be where I am today - even at initial stage 4 diagnosis. A positive mental attitude is SO important. I also received prayer from more people than I can count - prayer does wonders! Just get yourself to a major cancer center, do what your oncologist suggests, and stay with it. The road can be rough but hang in there. You can survive this.
3/11/16 Colonoscopy - 9 benign polyps, 1 large cancerous tumor in right ascending colon
3/23/16 First meeting with Oncologist
4/19/16 Right colectomy
4/21/16 discharged from hospital
6/3/16 Two liver spots detected, added Avastin to Folfox
10/5/16 Oxaliplatin stopped after 10 rounds
12/20/16 Liver surgery. Pathology shows no active cancer cells
1/18/17 Mop-up chemo, Folfiri + Avastin
2/7/17 Baseline CT and MRI show no cancer - in remission and NED
6/7/17 Final chemo
12/5/17 Port removed