Got my chemo port yesterday

I had to go in for outpatient surgery to get my chemo port installed on 12/30/13. Happily I got the same surgeon to take care of my port who did my pancreatectomy/splenectomy. I liked him personally the first time around and felt like he did a great job with a major abdominal surgery. I suffered no complications and am healing quite nicely already. When someone is cutting your body open for any reason, it is good to have confidence in them!

  Three times in the last couple of months I have had to fast for procedures or surgeries. The first time was for an endoscopic ultrasound. That procedure was not scheduled until 3:30 pm. It was hard, but I knew it was necessary. The second time was for my surgery in November. Mercifully, my surgery was early and I had to check in to the hospital at 7:30 am. My nerves let me forget about things like food and caffeine. This time around, my surgery wasn’t until 11:30 and I was losing my sense of humor about being denied coffee in the morning. I know, I have much bigger fish to fry right now, but it really is the little things that make life more pleasant!

  We got checked in without a problem. The outpatient clinic was hopping. This was the same clinic where our younger daughter, P, got her tonsils and adenoids out, a few years back. So much of it was familiar from back then. I remembered waiting with her back in a room, P in her surgical gown, hair net in place, and her stuffed penguin sitting along side her, wearing his own hair, or maybe feather, net. I remembered images of puppies on the door of the room we waited in with her.

  I saw my surgeon, chatted with him, the anesthesiologist, several very nice nurses, and then it was time to go. The port goes into the top of your chest. The surgeon said they can place the needle into a blood vessel in the chest, where there is a 1/100 chance of puncturing the lung. Or, he could put it in a vessel in the neck, where there is a 1/10,000 chance. He preferred to do the neck, and that was fine with me. He told me he would try to place it out of the way in case I wanted to wear a low cut dress or blouse, but I was most concerned about my sports bra. I need to be able to wear a sports bra. How often am I going to be going out dancing in a low cut dress over the next six months? I am guessing never. I hope to run a few times per week, though. A girl has to have her priorities!

  While they were prepping things in the OR, the doc, nurses and I discussed running, hiking the manitou incline, and other Colorado staples. There are certain shared experiences here that unite Coloradans and that is one thing I just love about living here.

  The anesthesiologist told me to have a nice nap and I did. I woke up about an hour later, feeling quite groggy and a little sore. I had to get an X-ray to make sure things were placed properly. After the X-ray, they brought me to a room to recover, and low and behold, it was the puppy room that P had been in for her tonsil surgery! I waited in the puppy room until they got my X-ray results back. Everything looked good. The nurse brought me some crackers and coffee, which was wonderful. By mid afternoon, we were headed home.

  This surgery was very insignificant compared to what I had gone through a few weeks ago, but it still isn’t without discomfort. I have stuff in my chest that doesn’t belong there, and they had to cut through my chest to get it in there. I am a very small female. My skin is bulging out where the port was installed. I have been icing and taking over the counter pain meds, but I didn’t get a lot of sleep the last two nights. I am guessing as my skin stretches to accommodate things, it will hurt less.


A year of running and a cancer diagnosis.

I am a 44 year old married mother of two. I started running when I was 28. I spend my spare time running the trails of Colorado with my husband and my friends. The year 2013 has been a year of highs and lows. I ran three ultra marathons this year. In April, I was fourth female at the cheyenne mountain 50k. In July, I ran my first 100 mile race. I finished in 22:33 in the Vermont 100,  which was good enough for tenth female overall. Two months later, I ran a 100k race and was third overall and first female.

Race number pick up from the vermont 100

My husband and I at the finish of the vermont 100.

  Sometime in between the Vermont 100 and the Bear Chase 100k, I started feeling very tired and felt like I had some difficulty breathing normally. I saw a wonderful doctor who sent me for a CT scan. This was when I found out that I had a pancreatic neoplasm in the tail of my pancreas. I was sent for an MRI, and then an endoscopic ultrasound. I was told that, while the doctors thought it was premalignant, it needed to come out ASAP. I was scheduled for surgery in November of 2013.

I ended up having a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy. I spent five days in the hospital after my surgery. I have an incision from my chest to my belly button. It was on the day of my discharge that I found out I had pancreatic adenocarcinoma, aka pancreatic cancer. I was “lucky” because while the diagnosis was not a good one, mine was caught early.

Here is my scar.

    Four weeks out from the surgery, I was cleared by my surgeon to start running. A couple of days before the official month mark, my husband and I went out and ran a few miles together on a local trail. It was so amazing just to get out and feel “normal” that I wanted to cry from happiness. I have been packing in as much running with as many friends as possible over the last couple of weeks because I am not sure how I will feel over the next few months.

My first run back after surgery!

  Tomorrow, 12/30/13, I am getting a chemo port inserted. I start chemo January 13, 2014. I still cannot believe I received a cancer diagnosis. This has been a very surreal experience. I know the next six months will be a challenge for my two daughters and my husband. I hope the impact on my family is minimal. I hope I can keep running through my treatment. That is my goal. I still think of myself as the healthiest person I know with a little touch of cancer.