March 3, 2011

Piccolo piccolo

Because my greedy tumour is big and invading other parts of me, I need to have chemoradiation therapy for six weeks. It is hoped that these two treatments will shrink the tumour and make surgery easier.

Chemotherapy before surgery is different to chemotherapy after surgery.

The role of chemotherapy before surgery, when used with radiation therapy, is to sensitise the tumour to the radiation. In my case, the chemotherapy is a low dose and needs to slowly enter my body 24-7, for six weeks.

For this you need a PICC line. A PICC line is like an iPod crossed with a drip: It is funky looking, based on cool technology, and strapped to my arm.

PICC stands for peripherally inserted central catheter

It is peripheral because the tube carrying medicine starts outside my body and then dives inside a vein in my arm. The inserted bit refers to the fact that a doctor has to feed the line in and this is done under sterile conditions, like a mini-surgery. It's central because the tube is fed all the way to a major vein right near my heart. Catheter is another word for 'tube into body'.

The tube stays in place because of a funky piece of engineering that sticks to my arm and clips the tube in place. In the olden days they used to have to stitch the clip into the arm, but not now.

The clip on my arm that holds the PICC line in place, I can't help seeing animals where others see man.

Right, but what does it feel like?

I can't feel the tube inside me, and I didn't feel it making its way to my heart. I had a local anaesthetic in my arm to numb the skin where the tube was first inserted only. The point where the tube enters my arm is a little sore but that will go away.

The thin tube enters a vein in my left bicep, travels across my chest and stops in a major vein that enters the heart. 


  1. If you were into such things, that 'butterfly' clip would make an awesome tattoo. Such a delicate piece of equipment as a symbol of your strength through all this. And think of all the chicks you'd pick up!

    "That? Oh, just something that helped me kick my cancer's butt..."

  2. Ben, how's your feeling when the doctor doing that?

  3. I didn't feel anything actually, I was busy watching the ultrasound and xray screens.