On Ports & Things . . .
Yesterday I went into Massey to have a port removed that it turns out we probably won't need. Dr. Boardman and I had agreed that if she found during the surgery to remove the tumors that my cancer was at least stage 2 (and would require chemo) she would go ahead and put a port into my belly that we could use for that. I was fortunate to get accepted into a clinical trial at Massey, though, and that requires a chest port instead. So for the last two weeks I've had two ports going on.
For those not in the know, a port is a little plastic device that gets implanted just beneath the skin, that allows nurses and others to start an IV without actually having to start and IV. They just stick a needle into the port and you are good to go. When I had chemo for my Hodgkin's we didn't use a port because we thought I would need less chemo than I actually did. In the end, both Dr. Ginder and I had wished we had used the port. Since my veins have never really recovered from all that chemo - and getting an IV started requires miraculous effort, about 5 sticks, and two nurses every time - I was on board with the port plan from the start.
Anyway, the belly port was causing me a ton of pain because I have lost a lot of weight and there was nothing cushioning it between my skin and my ribs, so Dr. Boardman and Dr. Carter both agreed it could come out. I was happy not only because the pain would be gone, but because it indicates to me that they feel strongly that we wont need to do other chemo through the belly in the future.
It was a long day. The operating room was backed up and by the time I saw Dr. Carter they were running about four hours behind. I was starving and dehydrated and in a lot of pain. My abdomen was so swollen I couldn't see my feet and there was literally no possible way to get comfortable. I thought the swelling was from surgery, but apparently ovarian cancer can cause fluid to collect like that, even after it has been removed. Dr. Carter assured me that this doesn't mean the cancer is coming back, just that chemo is usually needed to make the fluid stop building. She was somehow able to pull strings to add to our operating room time, and she was able to drain my abdomen of 7.5 liters of fluid in addition to removing the port. When I got home from surgery, I weighed 10 pounds less than when I had left. I am not exaggerating. I felt like a new person.
* * *
It is day 2 of oral chemotherapy and so far it is going well. With the fluid gone, my appetite is finally starting to return. The only thing my body seems to want is red meat - which is odd given how little of it I eat typically. I had planned to start a vegetarian diet post surgery, but I have lost so much weight that Dr. Carter and my nurse are encouraging me to eat anything my body wants right now to help gain some back before changing much diet-wise. I am a little groggy from the anti-nausea medicine that accompanies the chemo, but other than that, most of my not feeling great right now is still related to recovering from surgery rather than from the oral chemo.
Tomorrow is the first IV chemo infusion. I have so many mixed feelings. I am afraid of what it will do to my body. I can't quite get my head around the fact that I will be logging hours again in the same treatment room I spent so many in 14 years ago. I'm afraid it won't work.
I know once we get through this first week long round and I know better what to expect that things will feel much easier. This week, every single step feels unchartered and scary. I go from feeling at peace to overwhelmed in the passing of a second. Its unsettling.
I think I've realized that while I've known, and written on, and spoken about how high my risk for this was, I never really thought it would happen. I certainly didn't think it would be at 37. Before I had a chance to have a family. I always thought that these years were safe. And walking in there tomorrow kind of confirms for me that they're not. Even more than the actual losing of my ovaries seems to have. Its something i have to grieve, I guess. The whole loss of a future you had hoped for and that now feels stolen away.
So tomorrow will be a hard day. But each day is one closer to the end of this journey. I'm just trying to keep that in mind.
Peace and blessings,