Surviving by a tube

Surviving by a tube

Treatment sucks.

Cancer slowly takes away so many little pleasures in life, which can make it a chore to stay positive. As a child, this is only exacerbated as it feels like your entire identity gets dismantled. From school to friends, food to being carefree, everything gets sacrificed on the road to recovery.

For me, one of the biggest causes of many sacrifices was my catheter.

In the first week of my diagnosis, both of my arms were completely bruised from all the injections and blood draws. To prevent my veins from totally collapsing after a month, my doctors surgically implanted a central venous catheter into my chest. Essentially, they placed one end of a tube into the vein closest to my heart and left the other end sticking out of my chest… imagine a juice box. This tube stayed in my chest for 3 ½ years, the total duration of my treatment.

At first, I completely despised my catheter. It symbolized everything that was wrong with my body and was a burden to take care of. I constantly had to be vigilant of infection, damage, or even having it snag and get ripped out completely. Because of all the risks associated, I had to sacrifice my biggest love - swimming.

Since I was a baby, I’ve loved the water. In the summers, I would spend every day playing in the pool. But because of the high risk of infecting my catheter, my doctors banned me from going anywhere near a pool. Cancer took swimming away but I refused to keep it that way.

Through the years of treatment,  I slowly became more accustomed to living with a catheter. It made drawing blood and receiving medication hassle-free at the clinic. I even became better at cleaning the area myself (no small feat for a 10 year old).  

But it was only after I was finally in remission, with the catheter removed, did my doctors allow me back into a pool. Jumping into the water for the first time in almost 4 years, I finally felt like I was returning to my normal self. And oooh did it feel good.

Recovery requires sacrifice. With cancer, this couldn’t be more true. But as a survivor, it was totally worth it to kick cancer’s butt. 

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