Taking My Life Back

It’s funny sometimes, how just one thing can hold you back and trip you up.

 It can keep you from growing, moving forward, even just living a relaxed life. You might not even think the one little thing matters as much as it does, in the grand scheme of things, because it seems that small. Sometimes what you think is a really, small thing is really the catalyst for something bigger.

It’s like having a really small pebble in your shoe. A really small one; more like a piece of grit. It’s just big enough for you to know it’s there, but not so big that you think you need to remove it.  But, as you go about your day, the pebble rolls around in your shoe. It hurts a little bit. Maybe you can’t stop to fix it right then, so instead you press on. You find yourself walking differently so it hurts less.  But then that makes your leg cramp up or your knee hurt. By the end of the day, you are in a lot of pain, simply because you had a tiny bit of something in your shoe.

For me, that little thing was a little bit bigger, but not that much. For me that thing was my chemo medi port. A medi-port (or porta-cath) for those who are unfamiliar with the term,  is a device that is implanted in your chest and has a long tube that goes under your collar bone and up into your jugular vein. It’s used during chemo infusions to deliver the meds closer to your heart, so they get dispersed faster.  It saves wear and tear on the veins in your hands and arms, because the drugs are strong and can be a bit corrosive to your tissues. It’s a helpful device, but it’s not meant to be permanent under most situations.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I don’t really like to dwell on having had cancer. But it does come up in my blogs, once in a while. I guess it’s because it’s part of my life story now. As I go through my day, it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I go for weeks not thinking about cancer.

It does come to mind in those times when I have to have a screening blood test or a doctor visit. Unfortunately, those happen regularly, not because there is anything wrong, but just in case something might be going wrong.

That is a tough way to live. It goes against everything that I have grown to believe in. I used to keep things, just in case. I kept old tools, old wood, bits and pieces of outdated electronics, and the like. But most of the time they were never needed, or they were so old, I had no idea what they even were. Letting go of those things made perfect sense to me.

I do keep things just for when, though. Those are different. Those are things I don’t use all of the time, but I do need them occasionally. I just don’t believe in keeping things around for the sake of keeping them. Those things are just heavy weights in my mind, not useful and bring me no joy.

My medi-port has always been a just in case thing. Just in case the cancer comes back, it’s ready and waiting.

Hell, who wants that?

I have been trying to get this thing removed since I finished chemo, in July of 2019. I say trying, because my doctor felt it was better to keep it in. He admits he’s superstitious. He is a smart man, but it is a bit irrational, in my opinion, to think whether having the port in or out makes any real difference to the cancer coming back.

It doesn’t. And to my way of thinking it just adds to the stress. I always know that the port is there. It‘s uncomfortable, it pulls on my neck, and makes my chest sore. Most of the time I feel like I’m on a leash that is constantly pulling me back in illness mode. It also needs maintaining with blood thinners to keep it in working order.

Life after cancer is so full of mixed messages. You have to be constantly vigilant to what is happening with your body, just in case. You have to keep devices in place, just in case. You have to exercise the right amount, eat the right balance of foods, just in case. Keep that stress down, just in case. But then they tell you to live your life fully, embrace the day and go on with your life. It can be a real see-saw of emotions.

So, two weeks ago, at my last check up, I requested the port to be removed, again. I was honest and just said flat out said I was done with it and asked when could I get the surgery scheduled, Amazingly, it was approved. I walked out of the doctor’s office with my pre-op instructions and a July 6th surgery date.

I’m sitting here today with my port gone and a bandage on my chest.

I may be a little sore, but I feel like a new person.

For the first time since I started this journey, I feel like, me. Even my blood pressure is where it’s supposed to be. And it had been running high since the day I started chemo. Magically, right after surgery, it went back to normal and has stayed there.

I’m feeling peaceful. That is, in spite of the fact that we are in the middle of a 100+ degrees heat wave that will last another week, have a host of red flag fire warnings, our kitchen has been invaded by ants, and that I woke up to find my neighbors dog from 4 houses down had wandered in through the dog door last night to hang out with Avalanche, drink water, and eat cat food.

I knew I needed to get that port removed, but I am still surprised at this giant feeling of relief that I have. It was a much bigger pebble in my shoe than I realized.  The changes are reverberating through my soul, today. My skewed world is straightening out.

I want to remember this particular lesson, as I go forward, because it’s not really about the cancer.  It’s about life and following the path that you know is right for you. It’s about trusting your instincts, especially when you are hearing from others that you should do the opposite. It’s about saying yes to yourself. It’s also about pushing until you get it.

In order to have a joyful life, you have to life it your way. You have to follow your values, your beliefs, your personal knowledge of self, and find your own place.

It feels so good to be in that place right now.

Till next time,


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