It’s Time to Let Go of My Relationship With Cancer

I remember six years ago laying on a stretcher in an operating room waiting for my chemo port placement. I was preparing to be in a battle with cancer after being diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer with a six-month regimen consisting of two forms of chemotherapy. One form was called Xeloda (capecitabine)and the other form was oxaliplatin. Each chemotherapy’s job was to kill my existing cancer. That is what we hoped would be the outcome after my months of treatment.

The port placement was done as an outpatient procedure, but it made everything seem so real and up close. Until this point, I was just going through the motions with my cancer diagnosis. I just recently had surgery to remove a 7-centimeter tumor from the sigmoid region of my colon and was in the healing stage from that surgery.

I think I had totally blocked out the idea of having to endure the six months of chemotherapy because of the three cancerous lymph nodes found during the surgery. I think when I got the call from the scheduler to set up the port placement procedure that is when it hit me that this journey was truly just beginning for me.

I remember being scared to death going through what was the simplest form of procedure and even more so than the tumor removal surgery itself. I suddenly realized that what I was going to endure for the next six months was hopefully going to save my life. I chose to do the procedure with a local anesthetic and the numbing of the area for the port to be placed. All I remember from the procedure was joking with the surgeon that it felt like he was putting a battery pack in me. I asked him if it contained a AA or AAA battery, and he got a good chuckle from that joke. I have a feeling it probably wasn’t the first time he heard that one and was just humoring me at the moment. 

After the port healed for a few days, I made the appointment to set up my first chemo. It made my life easier because I had a really hard time having an IV placement done in my arm. My cancer center used the port for everything from my chemo treatments, blood draws for tests and contrast for CT scans for my follow-up appointments. I remember feeling the first sting when the nurse attached the chemo line to the port with a needle and then the cold water flowed through the line to hydrate me before the beginning of my chemo treatments. Then I couldn’t wait for the treatment to be over so they could flush out the line and I could go home. I lived for that process to be over with each session that I had endured those months.

After the chemo treatments were over and I found out I was NED (no evidence of disease) I decided to keep my port because I knew the cancer center would continue to use it for follow-up appointments. The device had become an odd comfort for me at times because I would run my finger from the port under my skin to the line of the vein that was connected to my body. It seems to help me with the anxiety I would be feeling at times during my survivorship. My oncologist was good with me keeping my port for a few years because we knew there was a real risk of me having a recurrence of my cancer.

Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to my oncologist after a five-year relationship because all my scans had been clear over the years and my blood work showed NED. It was time to accept the fact that I was cancer-free. We had spent much of my last appointment reminiscing about my cancer journey and my recent work with a few cancer advocacy projects including my work with Our goal as an organization is to help men not to feel so isolated because of a cancer diagnosis and I currently serve as the COO of the nonprofit organization.

The other day I realized after touching the area that the port was gone. It was like a friend I truly missed but accepted the fact that it was best to live life from a distance because of the literally toxic relationship we had formed over the years. It’s a relationship I hope to never be involved with again in my lifetime and it was truly time for me to let go.

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