Hickman line experience?


My dad is due to start FLOT chemotherapy treatment next week and today he had a procedure to put in a Hickman line in his chest (where the chemo drugs will be linked up to). I was wondering if anyone has had this procedure done and how have you managed it? Both dad and I are conscious of washing/bathing and how to get around not getting the line wet. It's all such a new and worrying experience... If anyone has any advice or tips, I'd be grateful for them.

I feel after today that the whole process is feeling more scarily real and my worry levels are rising... I know dad's are too. Chemotherapy is round the corner and I hope and pray dad gets through it without too many side effects/problems PrayPray

  • Nothing is going to stop you worrying. The problem is that your journey is pretty much individual. I have not started chemo yet so cannot guide you but wish you and dad all the best.

  • I learned to love my Hickman line. It makes it so easy for the medics to take blood and give the chemo. Seeing other people who were getting Cannulas inserted into their veins each session made me grateful. It also does mean that the 24 hour infusion that is part of FLOT is straightforward.

    It did take 2 hours to put in (the first attempt went down my arm rather than my chest). I just kept it away from the main jet of the shower and everything was ok.

  • It certainly does feel real and very scary when the Hickman line is fitted ..I can remember feeling very anxious especially when my husband arrived home attached to a chemo pod we hadn’t been told about and a bag full of meds to combat side effects ! ..Your community nurses will visit weekly to flush the line through to keep it clear and to remove the chemo pod when it’s empty at the end of each infusion ..usually 24 hours later  ..There will be back up support from the CN and your hospital..We had a 24 hour number we could ring if needed ..Hope all goes well ….Best wishes to you and your Dad 

  • Thanks so much for sharing your experience JPM. Yes it's a scary time. My dad's treatment sounds similar to your husbands. I know he'll be given one drug as an infusion over 24hrs and is able to come home with that one. I was under the impression that we'd have to go back to hospital the next day to get that disconnected? But I'm guessing that will all be explained to us next Wednesday.. Hoping the FLOT makes a big difference! Pray

  • Thanks for sharing DaveHome..yes it does sound more straight forward than other means, it just scared me yesterday seeing my dad with this line now in his chest. It really hit home just how real this journey is now feeling. Thanks, I will pass on your advice to my dad. Wishing you well too!

  • We thought so too but with The Christie being 50 mins away from where we live we were happy it could be done at home .. I will be hoping with you Pray 

  • Hi JPM, 

    Can I ask did your husband have surgery after chemo? I'm just wondering if dad's hickman line will be removed before he has surgery? I'm aware it stays in all through the chemo treatment but wasn't sure at what stage they removed it? 

  • Hi,

    I opted for a port-a-cath as it gave me more freedom moving my arms around etc and was a lot easier to shower and bath with as didn’t need to worry about covering it and it made the chances of picking up and infection slimmer too.

    It stayed in situ through surgery, post op chemo and I finished post op chemo on 15th Nov ‘21 but my surgeon kept it in until mid January once all histology and scans etc had come back clear and knew it was no longer needed … so I still had it for 2 months after completing treatment.

    It might be different with other lines and other surgeons / oncologists as everyone’s situation seems individual to them but hope that helps.

  • Hi The Hickman line was taken out a week after the fourth chemo session ..He had a six week rest and then surgery ..Another Hickman line was fitted six weeks after surgery for the adjuvant chemo ..This timescale may differ with different hospitals and circumstances though