To my port:

Today marks the end of an era for me.

A little over a year and a half ago, I was told I needed to insert an IV, or central line, through the skin of my chest, in order for my chemotherapy drugs to flow through my veins with ease. I have always had thin veins which would easily collapse and would be hard to find, and because of this I was advised that the port would make the process of chemo a less painful one for me.  

On October 25th, 2018 at 7:30 am I was on the operating room being sedated to get my port and begin my first session of chemotherapy straight after. That weekend is quite unforgettable to me, for obvious reasons. Yet, it also became memorable because I had a rare complication from my port insertion, after a day or two of the procedure, I started to feel shortness of breath, palpitations and a general uneasiness. As I visited the hospital a full 3 days after the procedure, complaining of not being able to breathe well, an X-ray revealed that my right lung had completely collapsed as it had been punctured during the port insertion. I had to undergo another two procedures to re-expand my lung, as well as 11 x-rays, 1 CT scan and 12 nights in the hospital.

Needless to say, my relationship with my port did not start well. It caused me a lot of pain and discomfort at the beginning. It was this thing sticking out of my chest that made me very self-conscious and consistently afraid of it coming out of place and causing me any more pain. I was already dealing with so much, and those 12 nights in the hospital were an awakening. This was going to be my life now, in and out of hospitals consistently with silent threats looming before treatment had even begun. My pain tolerance was being tested from procedure to procedure, at that point with a catheter inside me (the port), a small valve on my chest and another catheter through my right rib in the many attempts to get my lung back to normal.

It was a frustrating time. I was afraid and felt I was being treated so unjustly by life. I didn’t only have to deal with the cancer treatment, and a recent recovery from my breast mastectomy a mere one month earlier, but also, I was being asked by life to remain patient as more obstacles were appearing in my path. Obstacles, like the sudden collapse of my lung, a delay in my treatment, and an enormous fight with the hospital over who to blame for this complication which I was unaware could even happen.

Amidst the pain and as my hair began to slowly fall, during those 12 days there was always someone to hold my hand. I had an incredible group of friends, and they created a rotating schedule to ensure there will always be someone holding my hand in each one of those 12 days (and the many months of treatment to follow). It was because of them that the most painful moment of my life also became the most enlightening. I was surrounded by love, support and understanding from my friends and family and it was their light that carried me through the darkness.

My port caused me a lot of pain, and yet, it was because of it that I realized how much genuine love I have around me. It reminded me that I was worthy of love and that I wasn’t being punished. It revealed and reassured me that I had chosen the right people to spend my time with and trust my life with. It also saved me from what could have been a very painful 6-month chemo treatment with consistently collapsed veins.

Today I sat for a 45-minute surgery to get this little catheter, that had been a part of me, removed. It was the one small thing standing between me and the end of my cancer journey. Today, I am cancer free. I am port free. I am treatment free. I am so grateful that I can put all of it behind me. I am so grateful to God and life to be alive, healthy and thriving.

To mark the end of this era in my life, I wanted to list out the people I am grateful to and grateful for and who have had a huge impact in my life and have helped me heal, in different ways:

Dr. Fadi Mikhail, Dr. Annett Al Hamadi & Dr. Yasser Khattab at Mediclinic City Hospital as well as the team of incredibly kind nurses: Anette, Gladys, Roulette and Sini.

Dr. Lina & Dr. Bassit & Dr. Omaria at Dubai Hospital as well as the team of powerful and incredible nurses: Shila Sajjan, Maria Shyla, Vinu, Dayana, Bandu, May and Aida.

My mom, my dad (rest in eternal power and peace) and my brother Samy who flew within a week of my diagnosis to be with me for 3 months. My niece Sophia for giving me strength. My cousin/sister Marcela for being my backbone, as always.

Kickass survivor Maria Manzoor for being my guide. Thank you.

My chosen family and treatment companions: Rola, Angelika, Rehana, Maya, Rawan, Bruno, Nada, Butheina, Noor, Mel, Leila, Sareh, Azza, Soroor, Yousra, Cesar, Zamin, Pilar, Elizabeth, Alia, Tina, Nur.

I am truly grateful to so many loving people who helped me and had an impact on me through a gesture of kindness, love and support. There are too many to list (how lucky am I!!), but you all know who you are. Thank you for feeding me, being there for me, sending me messages of support, listening to me, guiding me and giving me a hug when I needed it.

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you. May God multiply in blessings the kindness and love you all gave me.

Here’s to a new era 🙂

Oh, and fuck cancer.

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