Portacath and first round of chemo

I am newly diagnosed with her2 breast cancer caught at mammogram screening, I know they’ve caught it relatively early and so prognosis is good. 

but I have some questions

I have to have chemo before surgery to try and prevent it spreading more and so I’m having a portacath inserted a week tomorrow in readiness for first round of chemo. I’ve spent the last 7 weeks terrified that treatment is taking so long to start and now I’m terrified it’s starting. Rolling eyes

for anyone with a portacath, is it noticeable? I can’t envisage what it’s going to look and feel like, will it get caught on clothing, can you feel it all the time?

and on chemotherapy my cancer nurse has told me I’m likely to feel pretty awful for the first 10 days with day 7-10 being the worst. Have I got that right? So much to take in.

have you managed to continue to work through your chemo?


  • i had one put in after two rounds, its a small bump around collar bone and a tube that runs up vein in neck, no it doesnt get caught on things, it makes all infusions so much less traumatic. they also take bloods from mine two days before infusion.

    it was simple surgery, they did mine under twilight and day surgery in an out. now down yo two more and looking forward to removal, just because im almost done. they only need to be flushed once a month if you are not using, but because treatments rare one to three weeks apart, low stress, while picc lines need weekly flush.

    u can google port cath and see pics of peoples, so e women get tattoos near them after, i am considering one myself

    but theyfade quite well, small line

  • Thanks for the reply, I have been reluctant to Google but I’ll be brave and have a look. 

  • Morning - I have a pic-line so I can’t comment about the port.

    I’m now through 4 rounds of my chemo (2 left) and haven’t worked during.  I find I’m feel awful for the first week, the 2nd week I’m ok but it’s advised to keep from socialising due to a weakened immune system and then my 3rd week involves blood tests, any other hospital appointments and the next chemo session.

    Everyone is different with how their bodies cope with the chemo so take one day at a time.

    I wish you well with your treatment, Jules

  • Hi Mumofthree, I have an arm Portacath. It’s toward the top of my arm just on the inside. You can see a slight bump but nothing major. No it doesn’t get caught on clothing. It’s so easy to access for chemo and bloods. You don’t feel it either. It’s a little sore for a couple of days but I was told to take paracetamol straight away to mitigate it and it did. You won’t be able to get it wet for a while until the skin has healed. I was given a cuff to wear over it for showers and it worked perfectly. 
    Depending on your chemo, I had EC and docetaxel and with the EC yes I was rough from about day 3 but generally by day 7 I was ok, occasionally it lasted till day 10 but after that you perk up. You should be given anti sick meds, don’t wait until you feel sick to take them. I was told to start in the evening (middle of the night)  of my chemo day. I would take them for 3 days as per the instructions. 
    Keep well hydrated and drink plenty of water. Eating little and often can help too. Swap normal tea and coffee for decaf, it helps to stop dehydrating you.
    Wishing you all the best.

    Hugs from cuffcake x x x x x

  • Thanks so much cuffcake that was all really useful information. My Portacath will be in my chest near my heart apparently. I did Google it and was expecting something more matrix like but it’s kind of a lump, fancied myself as Trinity. Rofl

    I think my boss might be expecting something more predictable for treatment but it sounds like it’s best to play it by ear and see how you react. She will be fine with that, she’s like me she just doesn’t have experience of this. 

    I need to look up the meds I’m being prescribed as everyone is so knowledgable about what they are taking. Have a call with my bc nurse on Monday so I’ll ask her to go through those again. 

    I will definitely up my water, don’t drink a lot of caffeinated coffee and tea so that’s good.  

    thanks again x

  • Hi joules,

    well done on getting 2/3 of the way there on your chemo. That makes sense on the number of appointments as I have a lot dropping in my calendar from the hospital already. I will bear in mind that there are additional appointments on top of the chemo. I had probably been thinking, chemo then 3 weeks off to work but I think I need to reset my expectations on energy levels. My job is very full on and so although it will be tough I think I might need to step back for a bit. 

    thank you for your insight it helps me get prepared for what’s coming. Heart

  • Work have been amazing with the support they have given me and all they want is for me to get better.  

    I have been signed off since July when I had my mx and not due to go back until the new year.  I’ve now got my work laptop so I am now able to sift through my unread emails to ensure none were missed as they’ve been monitoring them once a week.

    When I had been first diagnosed the plan had been mx and then radiotherapy- unfortunately that changed for me once they did the op.  At the end of the day it is what it is and I have to stay as positive and I will get better and the chemo will be over just in time for Christmas Christmas tree 

    My hospital did advice being off work atleast the first session to determine how you feel - I found when I had my chemo on Friday I’ve been ok Sat & Sun and then I’m knocked for 6 for a couple of days.  As I changed from EC to Docetaxel my body struggled more with this and the one thing I hate about this one is I can’t taste anymore and food tastes yuk atm !

  • Forgot to say, it’s worth keeping a diary and make notes everyday about how you feel etc. that way you will see a pattern and be able to plan things easier. I did this throughout the whole of my chemo and radiotherapy Thumbsup

  • I had a portacath fitted in May 22 and I still have it as my cancer became metastatic. It sits under the skin in my upper left chest. It’s never given me a moment’s bother. I can swim and exercise as I like with it. The infection risk is very low as it’s a brief job for them to dock with it / undock and it never bleeds. You can see it in the mirror and it would show if I wore a low neckline, but my bigger concern was to keep it above where a sports bra would sit 

  • Great goal to be all finished with the chemo by Christmas. And fantastic to hear that your employer is supportive. 

    Change of taste sounds awful. But not long now you’re almost there.