The week before I began treatment, I had a number of appointments to prepare me for what was to come. Among these appointments were tests to measure my lung and heart function, a bone marrow biopsy, and a consultation with the radiologist’s office about my upcoming port placement procedure. At said appointment, the physician’s assistant went over all of the possible side effects and complications that could occur due to having a port.
Along with the negatives, I was also presented with a plethora of positives. I was about to get 12 rounds of chemo, and the high possibility that my veins would be completely ruined, that chemo could burn through them, horrified me. So I brushed off the low chance of any negative side effects and proceeded with the procedure to have a port placed in my chest.
I never had any problems after getting through eight rounds of treatments with my port. It seemed to cooperate quite well, and my port always flushed back blood. I didn’t even need numbing cream for when my port was accessed — I handled it like a champ!
At this point, the whole process became ritual. I went to treatment every other Thursday. I got my port accessed, blood was drawn, I saw the doctor, I waited for treatment, I sat in my chair for four hours, and then I went home and recovered. Nothing new each time … until my ninth round of chemo. That’s when I remember actually feeling scared for my life.
You see, when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s I never really considered the possibility that I’d die. I only thought I would be wildly sick, and would not be able to do anything. But the fear of impending death never really grasped me, even as a mere possibility; it wasn’t until my ninth chemo that I thought this could all end me.
Ultimately, it was then that we discovered I had blood clots in my lungs. I had been feeling a pain in my chest and had shortness of breath, which we thought was just bleomycin toxicity. However, it turned out that these pains and breathing difficulties were a result of more than one issue in my lungs. I had been holding my chest while my nurse, Heather, was giving me one of the push chemos. This concerned Heather, so she contacted my doctor immediately, who then ordered me an EKG. The EKG showed a small abnormality, so my doctor then ordered me a CT with iodine (which makes you feel like you’re peeing your pants throughout the scan).
Upon completion of the scan, which you see in my vlog, I was put in a room to wait for the results. I had the wildest hunch that something was not right. Shortly afterward, (I say shortly now, but boy did it feel like an eternity), I was told that I had blood clots in my lungs and needed to be transported to the ICU via ambulance. I immediately began blood thinner medication and was admitted to the hospital for a week.
My visit had ups and downs. I didn’t understand why, after everything I had been going through, that this needed to happen to me. I knew that if this went unnoticed I could have just dropped dead — and THAT’S what scared me. It wasn’t cancer, it was the clots.
My nurses and doctors came to the conclusion that they believe the clots were formed from a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that started in my upper arm due to my port and traveled to my lungs.
The biggest take away from this specific complication (which then resulted in more complications) is to ALWAYS vocalize any concerns/feelings/discomforts/etc. with your nurses and doctors. Constantly listen and pay attention to the messages your body is sending you! If you are your own biggest advocate, it will all be OK.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.