Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Long Overdue Post-Chemo Post

Hair has been growing. Energy levels are back to normal. Life goes on!

Nearly six months have passed since my final chemo treatment. Wow! Time has flown.

I've been meaning to post updates about life post-cancer. Because, it's a bit weird. My oncologist informed me that it was natural to have anxiety as a cancer survivor, and yeah there are days when the possibility of a relapse scares me and I wonder about my future. Ultimately, I can't worry about it, because the future isn't written yet. Gotta keep living!

I still need check-ups every three months to make sure everything is hunky dory, both in terms of watching out for long-lasting chemo side effects (of which I have none so far) and potential relapse (also none so far). Luckily for me, Hodgkin's lymphoma has a low relapse rate and most HL patients are cured with first-line chemotherapy. All of the statistics are in my favor. Hurrah!

As for other updates...

First, the sad news: back in November, my oncologist told me she would be relocating. I'm happy for her, moving on with her career and all. Sad for me. I could not have asked for a better oncologist to help me through the tumultuous journey. I was able to see her one last time before she moved in December.

The good news, also back in November my port was explanted!

I'm grateful the device made receiving medications easier, however I am super glad it is gone. If I had kept it in, I would have had to revisit the infusion center once a month to get it flushed to keep the catheter clean and clear. Considering how accessing it each time made me nauseous—with or without chemo—because of my reaction to the saline and/or heparin, removing it was the best. It also signified an end to my cancer adventure.

On Friday, November 21, my Aunt Debbie accompanied me to the hospital. We arrived at 6:55am and left around 10:30am. The procedure itself lasted just over an hour.

I have learned to be more vocal about my needs and desires, so prior to the procedure I had a few questions/requests:

1) Can I be more conscious than sedated during the procedure, like last time during the implant

Answer: Yes! Woohoo!

2A) Can I keep the port? 

Answer: No, because it is a biohazard. =(

2B) Can I take a picture with the port? 

Answer: YES! (see below)

3) Can anything be done about the nasty little scar* from when the port was first implanted?

Answer: The doc wasn't sure. Usually they make a second incision or something. He said he would take it into consideration and see what he could do.

*Side note: Funny story. Sooort of. When the port was implanted, there was a little mix-up about when it would be okay to remove the surgical glue. The take-home instructions claimed it would fall off on its own within seven days. On day eight, the glue was still stuck in place so I removed it, which apparently was too soon (the nurse practitioner later told me fourteen days was the ideal wait length; um...that would have been nice to include in the instructions). When I removed the glue it was obvious the incision had not quite healed and I had to return to the interventional radiology department so the nurse practitioner could tape it with surgical strips. This technique was not very effective and the scar healed weird. Every time I looked at it, it reminded me of a slug.


Returning to my explant procedure story, as requested I was mostly awake, although the nurse increased my sedative at one point because she said she noticed I was wincing. All in all, I remember about half of the procedure: the set up, an x-ray, a blue drape, the prep, the stinging lidocaine injection...

A different doctor performed the explant, not the doc I met during pre-op. New doc and I had a great chat during the procedure. Unfortunately, I don't remember most of it. Apparently she gave me a lot of great life advice. Guess I'll have to fill in the gaps with my imagination!

Bonus: She removed the scar tissue as requested! Yay! The new scar is longer and just as wide as the old scar, but it looks a lot cleaner and less slug-like. I'm satisfied with it.

Me + Port
Yellow bruise a few days later.
The bottom line is the new scar.
The top line was more bruising.

Those are all the updates I have for now. I hope more will be forthcoming, but I make no guarantees.


No comments:

Post a Comment