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Someone explain this pump thing I am going to have to have

Posts: 41
Joined: Feb 2012

I went to the doc today and I have to wear a pump, someone please tell me how to handle this, and if there are problems I might run into , scared.
The pump will be put on after I have a round of chemo.just need a friend to talk to me about it. Thanks !

RoseC's picture
Posts: 558
Joined: Jun 2011

It's not as bad as it sounds. What happens is that you'll go for out-patient surgery and they'll put what they call a 'port' under the skin in the fleshy area under your collar-bone. The surgery doesn't hurt - the area might be a little sore and feel weird, but it doesn't hurt.

On the two weeks that you'll have chemo, they give you a fanny-pack to wear. The fanny-pack will contain a small pump and the chemo medicine. A very small diameter tube will connect the fanny-pack-pump to the port in your chest. That's how the chemo is delivered to your body.

You'll wear the fanny-pack for 4-5 days. It's weird and a little cumbersome, but it doesn't hurt. Taking a shower is the biggest problem, and you can either do sponge baths, or if you're brave, leave the fanny-pack-port-thing outside the shower. We can help you with hints on how to do things more easily. After the first week of chemo, the tube-thing will be disconnected and you'll be free of the pump till the second round of chemo.

It's scary but we've all been through it and will be glad to answer any questions you have.

Posts: 41
Joined: Feb 2012

Thanks I know I will have a million questions and for some reason talking to others that have done gone through this is much more comforting than talking to a doctor.

mp327's picture
Posts: 4148
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Tybtym--

I don't have much to add to the above comment, as that's pretty much it as regards the pump. It's really not a big deal. Mine fit in a little bag with a strap so I could wear it around my waist. The tubing from the pump to the port went under my shirt and wasn't visible when I was out and about. It's a little cumbersome when going to the bathroom and I found that sink baths were the easiest way to bathe for the few days I had to wear the pump. The port placement is an easy procedure and done all the time, so don't worry about that. You'll do fine through this--we're all here to reassure you, so ask any further questions you might have.

Posts: 12
Joined: Oct 2016

Great explanations from all. Just got mine off yesterday, next surgery. You will do fine.

Love and light

Dog Girl
Posts: 100
Joined: Sep 2010

If you are like most of us, you will get one infusion of one type of chemo (myomyticin?) spelling is problably wrong - which will take a few hours (3 or so hours from arrival to departure) via your port and then the 5FU chemo will be hooked up as the others have described. (I had to go to the hospital chemo lab for the M, I believe because of shortages (this was back in 2009), and then I went to my Oncologist office for the 5FU and pump.)

I used a backpack type of purse for my pump as it wouldn't fit in a fanny pack and as Martha said you can run the tubing up under your clothing and it is not very noticable at all. I worked that first entire week with it and besides forgetting to pick up my purse a couple of times when I was getting up from sitting and getting a little bit of a jerk on the tubing I did OK.

I was also OK to shower. I put a stool just outside of my shower stall to sit the pump/purse on and my tubing was long enough for me to shower. I kept my back to the shower for the most part and used the hand held shower nozzle to rinse off. (If you don't have a hand held shower, get one. It will come in handy later.) I don't exactly remember, but I think I also
tape part of a ziploc bag over my port too to keep it dry while I showered.

They will probably push steroids and anti nausea meds before the chemo and I only felt a little queasy, but make sure you have your anti-nausea prescription filled beforehand in case you need them. Take them as soon as you start feeling the symptoms of nausea.

Everybody here on this board will be glad to help you and give you tips and advice from our experiences. It is an intense, but short treatment period and you'll be through in time for a great Spring. Good luck.

lou3863's picture
Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2016

Just got my appointment for my port. Must go to Hospital for surgical procedure. I need to know if I can drive after the procedure?  Do I get a local anesthesia. Can I go to work after? I need to tell my job if I am going to be out.  Then I have to get a pump for chemo. Does that also limit showering? Have no idea what to expect.

AZANNIE's picture
Posts: 443
Joined: Mar 2011

I had general anesthesia when port was "installed" so I wasn't able to drive. I took sponge baths when I was hooked up to the pump, but others figured out a way to shower while hooked up. I was on medical leave so didn't have to worry about going to work. I'm sure others will chime in.  Best of luck to you. You'll get through this. 



mp327's picture
Posts: 4148
Joined: Jan 2010

You have asked some good questions, but it is really up to your physician and the hospital to give you specific instructions for your procedure.  I was given twilight anesthesia, not general, but I still could not drive afterwards.  The port incision cannot get wet for a certain length of time after being placed.  If you cover it with a very long piece of Saran wrap that goes a few inches below the port, over the port and up over your shoulder and have someone use waterproof tape to tape down all the edges before you shower, it will keep it dry.  My placement was not a bad procedure and I hope yours goes smoothly as well.


AZANNIE's picture
Posts: 443
Joined: Mar 2011

After reading your post, I had twilight anesthesia too and not general. I remember talking to the dr while have port installed. I had a local when it was removed so I could leave hospital sooner, but still didn't drive.


Posts: 379
Joined: Jan 2013

My port was put in me duwring outpatient surgery.  I had a light anesthesia. I was out during the procedure and was coming out of it as they were finishing up.  Because I had anethesia I was picked up by a friend when they were ready to send me home.  I was grateful for the pump when I became dehydrated and when I needed a transfusion.  It was removed in an office surgery a few months after treatment.


Lorikat's picture
Posts: 680
Joined: Jul 2011

I had a picc line instead of port.  Wore a fanny pack 5 days a weak with 5fu.  Off on weekends....   Not too much trouble....


Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2016

Hello all, I am new to this site; diagnosed with anal cancer about 4 weeks ago and am finally starting chemo and radiation therapies day after tomorrow.  The holidays delayed start of treatment.  I had a PICC line installed yesterday and the chemo pump will be attached in two days.  My question is what can I wear that will fit over the pump once it is attached to the PICC line (in my upper arm)? It is winter time and everything is long sleeved.  I don't think the sleeves will fit over the pump/fanny pack. Any suggestions?  Thanks in advance. 

Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2016

I finished my treatments a year ago. I just joined this group today after doing a search regarding "Port Flushing".

I was diagnosed with  a Squamous Cell stage 2 Anal Cancer.

I had the port put in at a Hospital and  they put me out. I wore the pump for 95 hours twice and although it was inconvenient, it wasn't painful, but whatever chemo they gave me was designed to kill all fast growing tissue, which  includes the tissue inside the mouth.

My tongue got sore, almost raw, but they gave me a prescription for what they called "Magic Mouthwash" that numbed my mouth to minimize suffering.

I received radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks, 30 treatments total.

I smoke a pipe, so each time I got the chemo pump, my mouth  got so sore I couldn't smoke  for 2 weeks.

I had an Anal Cancer so they said my smoking didn't cause it, but having the radiation treatments there made me uh ... raw in the working areas making using the bathroom terribly painful, and shortly after getting the pump the  first time I also had difficulty urinating, but they had a solution for every problem, they gave  me Flomax so I could Pee easily, and gave me hydrocortisone cream 2 1/2% for my painful areas and it lessened the pain enough  that my suffering was minimized. They encouraged me to eat and drink a lot, but the last thing I wanted to do was increase frequency of bathroom visits, so I did it MY way and lost 10  pounds in a week, but gained it back the following week after spending a fortune on donuts and those fancy though pricey meals from the natural health foods store. Nothing tasted good, but I could tolerate those foods.

It wasn't too bad, I could do it again.

I just had my 1 year ct scan  and everything still looks good with no new cancers.

After doing allof this the Cancer Center discussed having my Port removed, and  asked if I was having it flushed every 3 Months ... Huh?

Nobody had mentioned this before, and it hasn't been flushed for a year.

I'll probably just have it removed in December or January.

I'm 68 and I've been retired for 7 years. I'm  glad I didn't have to go anywhere whille enduring this.


Posts: 1255
Joined: Oct 2011

Welcome, I am glad to hear that you are doing well and it is always encouraging to share positive stories with others here. I was initially dx 5 1/2 yrs ago with Stage 3b anal cancer, a year later with breast cancer, and then last year with a recurrance of anal cancer in my lung. That being said.....I am now doing great!!

I have heard a variety of stories regarding port care following treatment, anywhere from getting it flushed (or used to draw blood for labs) every 3 weeks to situations such as yours where no flushing was scheduled. About a year after my initial treatment I had my port removed, in case you're wondering this is usually a simple and painless procedure. I did however need to have a new one placed when dx with mets and have since had it flushed or accessed for blood work about once a month. If not routinely flushed scar tissue or blood flow can be (but not always) a problem if later wanting to access and then if needed a new one may be necessary.

Best of luck to you as you continue to move forward in health!


Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2017

Can you tell me...  did you have any hair loss and if so do you think it was from the chemo pump or the radiation ? Going to start same treatment next week. 


Posts: 114
Joined: Jan 2015

Radiation is a local treatment and it will not cause  hair loss from your head; however, it may cause thinning or loss of pubic hair!

I had some hair thinning and after treatment ended, some hair shedding and change of hair texture.  Everyone experiences symptoms differently..some had no hair loss, others had some hair loss.  Hair loss would be from the chemo. I doubt that you would lose all your hair!

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2017

your diagnosis is same as mine, got port in wednesday and awaiting start of chemo and radiation on Monday.  Very nervous and anxious to get this going.  Hope all is still well with you!

Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2017

I will also be starting chemo pump on Monday for anal cancer.  I believe I am also supposed to start Radiation on Monday but so far the doctor's office hasn't gotten back in touch with me. I'm expecting a call early in the morning.  I know the two doctors' offices were trying to coordinate starting chemo and radiation the same day.   Good luck to you tomorrow Smile

Posts: 563
Joined: Apr 2011

just thinning.  No other changes.   Bald below for one year maybe more?  Unfortunately the pubic hair came back with a vengeance.  Maybe it's the b12 I'm taking.  Hair loss is more common for breast cancer patients.  

Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2016

It depends. If your white blood counts don't go down too low then you may just have thinning. If they do you will lose much of your hair. My mother had extreme neutropenia and has now lost most of her hair. The doctor was trying to not let that happen but when it did he told her that she would lose her hair. She also will have a 20% reduction of the 5fu when she has the second round of chemo next week. He said that there is no way before the treatment that you can tell how individual patients will react to the chemo. They make adjustments for the second round. 

Raven5's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2017

I was diagnosed with stage 3C Rectal cancer August 4, 2017 and I had a colostomy put in at the end of August and I had the port put in over 2 weeks ago and I started the chemo treatments last Monday with the Cadd pump. It doesn't hurt, the area where the port is is still a bit sore. I have radiation treatments in conjunction with the chemo. I go for radiation 5 days a week and the chemo pump stays on 7, I go back Monday to for more. Im jealous of all of you that only use it 4-5 days!! It comes off perm in 4 weeks and then I will have surgery 5 weeks after that. 

I dont remember what type of anesthesia they used all I know I was out like a light and woke up groggy with little pain. So far I have not been brave enough to shower!! I've been giving myself sponge baths and washing my hair in the sink! I don't work or I'd gave done the shower thing by now!! It took me a while to feel comfortable to shower with the ostomy on and now I have this. Eventually I'll try showering with it, I'll try the Saran Wrap and leaving the bag on a stool or something. I know the tubing is long but I'm afraid I'll forget and I'll pull on the tubing Or move too far from the shower door... I've gotten use to it even though the port area is still a but sore but it's not that bad walking around with the bag. The tubing goes under my shirt. its a bit cumbersome at times but mostly I forget I have it on.

it did scare me at first but like I said and others have said, it's not that bad, just the bathing part. I listen for the "whirring" sound the pump makes, when I hear that I feel it's working fine. I know I'd freak out if any alarms went off especially at night!! 

It helps ALOT to read about others experiences. I belong to another forum but its for colostomies and that's a whole other issue!! I was terrified when I first got it, I thought I'd never figure out how to use it but now I can do it with no problems. 


I havent had any nausea, thank goodness, the palms of my hands were starting to peel a bit as was the bottom of my left foot, but I used this really good lotion and it's virtually stopped peeling. I am fatigued a lot, but I was before the treatments. Haven't lost my appetite and I love to eat, but have to be careful because of the colostomy. My fingers are a bit stiff and sore, the soles of my feet are sore at times too as are my muscles in my legs and arms. If I sit too long 1 of my legs will fall asleep pretty bad, my hands will fall asleep too sometimes. Anyone have of those symptoms? I see my radiation oncologist on Monday so I'll talk to her about it and what I can do. I do use a cap when I go out to protect my head and face from the sun, I live outside of Atlanta and we still have days in the upper 80's with lots of sun and I wear long sleeved shirts to protect my arms. I haven't lost any hair. I wouldn't mind if I lost the hair on my legs, I wouldn't have to shave any more!!


mp327's picture
Posts: 4148
Joined: Jan 2010

Glad to see you here in the anal cancer group to reassure people that having the pump is no big deal.  I had one and had no problems with it.  Also, thanks for mentioning the ostomy and that once you got used to it, you now have no problems with it.  For anyone facing having an ostomy, that is comforting to know.  When I had my pump, I found taking a bath not all that difficult, as the tubing was long enough to lay the bag on the floor beside the tub. 

I noticed you mentioned living outside of Atlanta.  Me too!  My oncology group was Atlanta Cancer Care and all of my treatment, both chemo and radiation, were done in Cumming.  I wish you all the best with your current treatment and upcoming surgery.  Please let us know how everything goes for you.

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