Port install experience

Hello- I am 50yo woman and have been battling stage 4 nsc lung cancer for a little over a year now. I've have chemo (Carboplatin and Alimta) , then maintenance with only Alimta. The full chemo had good progress but once I went on maintenance it started to grow and the pain in my bones is coming back. They've now put me on Keytruda, and I'm praying for the best. Anyhow, all these treatments have been done by IV for a year now and my veins are shot. I'm having a port install next Thursday and I would just like to hear of other people's experience with the actual install procedure, recovery, and usage of. I should be upfront and say that I am a big, scared baby when it comes to medical and needle stuff, and all the needles this year did nothing to make me any braver towards the experience. Thanks for any responses.

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24 Replies

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  • My husband had no problem with it during or after surgery. However, he's frustrated that the VA in Atlanta as well as other places do not have nurses who are qualified to draw blood from the port. He's finished hemo for now but still has to continue having blood checked. Only complaint we have.

  • Thank you for your response. That's also what I was wondering about because i had a PET scan yesterday and asked the nurse at that facility if they would be able to use the port for all the scans i get with the dyes. She says no, and basically the only ones using it would be my oncologist's office. But hey, that's still better than all the IVs and blood draws.

    I wish you and your husband well. I hope he received good treatment at the VA otherwise. Thank you for your reply, and I thank him for his service.

  • The dye used in a PET scan contains sugars which would bollock the mechanism. My hospital accesses my port when I need contrast fluid for a CT and if I find myself in the emergency room for rehydration or other emergency services.

  • My port was put in about two weeks after my surgery (upper left lobe). It has worked well for over a year now for blood draws and contrasting CT Scans. I have had some small procedures since and it's been about 50/50. I have it flushed out about every 6 weeks if it hasn't been used.

  • By all means have the port installed ASAP. That surgery is not normally any problem at all, and it absolutely makes your chemo infusions a walk in the park as compared to having your veins jabbed each time. Kind Wishes, judg69

  • I was 51 when diagnosed and had the port done right away same chemo plan tried opdivo but didnt work for me now on taxatere and ram.... something, its working for now with side effects that suck. The port should not be used for quick labs. Too many pokes on port could cause infection. I have good lab tech that draw from my arm not bed. Make sure you get the emla cream you put this on the port once healed. Only use on treatment morning at least 1 hour before port access. use also press and seal plastic wrap put a good size amount on port then cover. when they access the port you won't feel the needle. Best stuff ever..

  • Thank you. I'm sorry you are having bad treatment side effects. I started with Platinol in the beginning and had horrible effects, but once they changed it to Carboplatin and Alimta, I have been very lucky that everything was manageable until now. I have a very good lab nurse that has hands of an angel but now even she can't get to a vein.

    I wish the very best for you! Thank you for the tips about the Emla cream!

  • Best wishes on your port. I have had 2 and have had no problems with either. I got the first on 10 years ago when I had my first round of cancer. After about a year after I finished chemo, I had it taken out. Last year I had a had another bout of cancer. The first thing I did was to get a port. They make treatment so much easier. I have small veins. This is a power port which means they can draw from it as well as putting meds into the body. Make sure you get a power port. The port is also used for injecting testing material. I think the only thing they can't inject is solution for am MRI. The only people that can access the port are nurses who have been trained for them. Not lab techs etc. I do have blood work done from my port, an infusion nurse will draw and then send it to lab. I am keeping this one for now as I have such issues with my veins. I hope this helps. FYI...it's a fairly painless procedure. Hang in there, Shirley

  • Thank you! You've calmed my fears for now, I think (Thursday morning might be a different story). It is a power port. They showed me a picture book that had a "feel me" page so you can see/feel what it will look like once healed. I do believe it's going to be for the best... once it gets in there, that is . Best wishes to you!

  • I didn't have any issues getting my port on. They didn't actually put me to sleep, kinda in and out. It only took a few minutes. The tube that went up my neck was annoying because my grandbaby liked to pick at it. All said, the treatment was much easier with it. I have terrible veins. When they initially access it, it hurts, but all in all, went well. Good luck. I'm sure it will go well!

  • Thank you! Can I ask what you mean about the tube up your neck? I haven't read anything about that yet. Thanks again and best wishes!

  • I had a port and would totally recommend it. My veins roll and blow and can be difficult to find unless I am really hydrated. Having the port allowed them to easily access my vein. Wishing you a happy holiday season and all the best in the coming new year.

  • Sorry I just read someone else's reply Indicating that they would not use the port for anything other than chemo, and that was not true for me. They would have used my port for my ct scans with contrast and any other medicine.

  • Thank you! I am hoping that would be the case for me as well, but I hear more that most people outside of the oncologist office won't touch it.

    Happy holidays and happy new year to you!

  • From what I know...people who are trained to use it can access it. I used to think it was just RN's but some of the infusion people here are LPN's. I will have to ask what the criteria is when I next see one. At our clinic/hosp here they are all under one roof so it is easier to get an experienced person. A lot of the time, the lab techs will want to do a reg blood draw for the challenge of getting blood from one of my veins. Fun...I love getting poked and coming up dry. I do think that once you get it you will like it. There is tubing that runs up your neck and unless you have a Grandchild picking at it, it doesn't bother you. My Grandkids would pick at my fingernails and try to push them backwards. Little darlings will zone in on something. I miss those days. Best wishes

  • I love my power port! I’ve kept it in -even 7 years post treatment. It’s so much easier to use and there are fewer needle pokes than having a line placed during an ER visit. I have to have it flushed every month but I’ve been known to draw that out to every 6-7 weeks.

    It’s a security blanket thing, keeping that port. I’ve convinced myself that as long as I have it I won’t need it. A couple years ago, when diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn’t require Chemo which reinforces my (unnecessary) belief.

  • I can totally understand the security blanket belief! Thank you for your insight, and I wish for you continued health into the new year!

  • Love my port! Still get my lab draws by IV but the port has made PET/CT and chemo infusions much easier. My veins are really small and it would take twice as long as it does now with the port. Best of luck!

  • Dear Lexis,

    I have had a port for 8 years now. Was 3/4 awake for it, although they usually knock you out completely if you don't fight it - I wanted to watch. It is a simple procedure with a small incision, usually on your chest. The port has been a Godsend since the day I got it! Now it is just a matter of going through a few extra steps with masks and a large plastic bandage to prevent infection to get one needle instead of so many tries - they always get it on the first attempt!! I think you will be very pleased and wonder why they didn't do it a long time ago!! If I recall correctly, it was like getting a cut on your finger and healed fairly quickly. Please don't be afraid of it, it truly makes everything so much easier. Mine is a power port, so they can do blood draws, too.

    The only caveat is that a lot of nurses do not like all the extra steps and so won't use it - hold out and know the majority of them are not telling the truth. If possible I always inform everyone that I have a port before a procedure and that I EXPECT them to use it! More than once a nurse has told me she cannot use it, but after 9 or 10 attempts in my arm all of a sudden she does use it or gets someone who can!!

    You will love the simplicity!

    Lauri-Anne

  • Thank you so much! Everyone's encouraging responses here have calmed my fears immensely. I really appreciate your reply. Best wishes to you for the new year!

  • I've had my Port for well 2 years...it's one of the best things I did. I love it and think it makes things since much easier...a true blessing.

    Good luck,

    Lisa

  • I was a bit apprehensive prior to getting my port. You really remember nothing about surgery and it is much easier having the port in.

  • When I had a double lobectomy they found 4 small lymph nodes with cancer in them and pathology said margins all negative from the 6 cm tumor but nodes had some cancer in them so my surgeon removed tumor and all lymph nodes now I'm cancer free but now the tumor board recommends radiation and 3 rounds of more chemo.... so why I am I cancer free, makes no sense

  • Sorry I got off subject

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