That Port Life: Embracing My Chemo Port
“Is that a...hicky?”, my friend asked on a girl’s night, eyes fixed on my chemo port.
“Nope”, I replied, annoyed. “That’s my port.”
“Port?”, she asked, puzzled.
“A port for my chemotherapy. It is a thin tube that is implanted under my skin and attached to my vein. The IV chemo gets administered through it.” I didn’t fault her. Like most people, she genuinely didn’t know what a port was. I didn’t, either, until I had one myself.
Nevertheless, I felt self-conscience about it for the rest of the night. Every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, instead of thinking how nice my new dress was, or how my eyeliner was on-point, all I could see was my port.
But less than two years later, I found myself having it put right back in again.
Metastatic breast cancer lifer
I cried on my surgery day, knowing that as a treatment “lifer” I’d probably die with that hard piece of plastic in my chest. I felt my smooth chest one last time as they wheeled me into the operating room. It has been a few months since then, and now I have accepted my port. I am even thankful for it since it makes receiving my life-saving medicine possible.
Do you have cancer?
Recently, I had my first manicure in a long time. “Do you have cancer?”, asked the older male technician. “Yes, I do. How did you know?!”.
He pulled down his shirt a few inches. A port scar gleamed in the light. “I had cancer. Adrianycin and Cytoxan, for leukemia”.
“You’ve had chemo, too?!”. We were soon like old war buddies, swapping chemo stories.
Accepting my chemo port
“There are more people like us than you think”, he told me. Evidently he saw people like "us" all if the time. For the first time, I wasn’t just accepting of my chemo port. I was proud of it. It symbolized being a part of something larger than myself. A secret club, if you will.
I will admit, when I buy new clothes the first thing I look for is if my chemo port is noticeable. I still prefer that it isn’t, simply because sometimes I just do not feel like being reminded that I am a cancer patient. But if I really love something, I buy it even if it is noticeable. And I wear it with pride. Cancer has taken so much from me already. I won’t let it dictate my style, too.
Besides, I never know who in the great wide world I will meet who can relate. Who is a part of the secret club, too? And that kind of comradeship can never be a bad thing.
Do you live with a chemo port? If so, what is your experience like? Please share with our community!
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Friday, October 29, 2021, Danielle Thurston passed away. We know that Danielle’s voice and perspective continue to reach so many. She will be deeply missed.
Internal radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation used to treat breast cancer.