For my chemo infusions, I have a PICC line, which is just a 20 cm, 1.5 mm diameter catheter inserted into a vein in my right arm, taped down by a butterfly bandage. Otherwise, you have to rely on your veins, which are not reliable, or have a port inserted in your upper chest cavity (I didn’t want one).

Vascular surgeons really don’t like these to be in there for more than about 5 months, 6 at the absolute limit, and mine has to last another 4 weeks (I’ll be hitting the 6 month mark). Any foreign body runs the risk of causing infection, and that’s the big risk with this baby.

It’s a little red around the incision site, so I’m on giant antibiotics for the next 10 days. The vein inside looks good tho – my vascular surgeon looked at it via ultra sound…but if I spike a fever, the PICC has to come out and that will be a major pain in the ass for me. I don’t know if I can handle 4 chemos in my crappy veins without the PICC. But I won’t spike a fever… and I will be careful, and it will be fine.

Everyone goes on vacation in July too! Bah. My vascular surgeon will be on vacation when my PICC Line needs to come out, but he said anyone can do it in the oncologist’s office, or one of his colleagues. In fact, he told me I could do it myself, really. Of course it might be a bloody mess, so I guess it’s not something to try at home, kids. So I won’t. But I’ll watch them pull it out, I think.

So… I have my last chemos scheduled and my surgical follow up. Last chemo is July 19 (I have 4 more to go). And my follow up is July1 – just to make sure the location formerly known as my tumor is behaving. Looks good to me, but I can’t see what’s going on inside. Still, you can hardly tell anything is missing. That’s the good part of lumpectomy. The bad part is… well, you have to have radiation there, and you have to figure out if you’re comfortable with keeping your breast or whether you view it as a time bomb. I choose the former.

This does me think about the relationship between breast size and surgical decision, all things being equal. If you have tiny breasts, it’s probably not worth the lumpectomy. If you have large breasts, masectomy may mean reconstruction and heavy prostheses. Being the bennificiary of considerable boobage (that would be the technical term), and with a relatively small tumor that was well defined, lumpectomy made sense to me. And I’m happy with the result.

Apparently lots of breast cancers are in the left breast, upper outer quadrant, which makes lumpectomy convenient (if such a thing is ever convenient) if you want to preserve the breast. The survival rates after masectomy and lumpectomy with rads are the same. Obviously you’re at greater risk for a local recurrence in the same breast (given that it’s still there).

So think good thoughts for my PICC line and my arm, which looks a little less red today. And my stomach, enduring 10 days of enormous antibiotics. Lots of yogurt, too.