Cancer Lesson #34: Any Port in a Storm

Cancer Lesson #34: Any port in a storm

If you’d told me, oh maybe three years ago, that I’d someday rave about having a “drum-shaped device of plastic, stainless steel, or titanium with a silicone septum” (description from American Cancer Society Website surgically placed under the skin of my upper arm. I wouldn’t have believed you. I would probably have nodded politely and scuttled away.

But cancer changes things.

If you’ve read Cancer Lesson #13, you know good veins are invaluable for treating cancer. Alas, I have none. And, since my surgery included a lymph node dissection, only my left arm can be used for that sort of thing now, which meant my choices were limited.

This goes a long way toward explaining my enthusiasm for any method of dodging the poking and prodding that I came to associate with visits to my oncologist.

A port sounded great. Hell, I’d have taken a whole port city if it meant avoiding some of the jabs of a chemo regimen.


Is More Always Better? by Dr. Shelby Terstriep

Sneaking this one in even though it’s not an official “Cancer Lesson.”

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a blog post by Dr. Shelby Terstriep, an oncologist affiliated with the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Terstriep wrote about a practice doctors call a “curbside.”  This is basically an informal second opinion where one health professional asks another her or his opinion on a treatment protocol. I hope you’ll take the time to read that blog post because it’s relevant for anyone receiving medical treatment. You can find it here:

I left a comment agreeing with Dr. Terstriep, and sharing my own experience. When I was diagnosed, I reacted by researching treatment options and learning about the disease. As a trained librarian, I felt qualified to judge whether the information I found was authoritative and accurate. Since the choices my doctors offered me were in line with the ones I found in breast cancer literature, I chose not to ask for a second opinion.

Dr. Terstriep responded by asking how one could judge whether or not medical information was authoritative.  I replied with a brief description of how to evaluate a source, and she asked my permission to feature those comments in a blog post.

Here is a link to that post: It’s worth a few moments of your time, not because I contributed to it, but because the information presented is rarely found outside of library school.

If you need help finding material about your condition, a reference librarian at your local library can help you get started.