Friday, September 4, 2015

Another milestone

This past Tuesday, I had my port removed.

Another milestone

This past Tuesday, I had my port removed. Just so everyone knows what that is, I got the description below from Wikipedia:

In medicine, a port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical "needle stick."

Over the course of my treatment, I got a lot of different medicines, had a lot of blood drawn, and had to get blood and platelet transfusions. Having the port kept me from having to get an intravenous needle in my hand or my arm every time I needed treatment. My port was kind of a tricky one and sometimes the nurses at CHOP (except the oncocology nurses that got it right the first time, every time) had a hard time accessing it. My parents figured out early on that if my port needed to be accessed, we needed an onco nurse to make it happen. They open ports all day every day and they never missed.

Getting my port taken out was kind of a big deal. After my post-treatment scans (which were all clear… YEAH!!!!), my doctors said I wouldn’t be needing the port anymore and it was time to take it out. It was a pretty short procedure on Tuesday morning. I got to CHOP at about 6:45 a.m. and went in to surgery about 8:00. My parents met me in the recovery room before 9:00 and I was discharged by 11:00.

I couldn’t eat or drink anything for several hours before my surgery, so when I woke up my mouth was really dry and I wanted a slushy. One of the nurses went to get me one from the machine in recovery, but the machine was broken! She came back with a cherry popsicle that did the trick. Definitely gonna need to get that thing fixed; the kiddos in recovery really look forward to a slushy when they wake up.

Dr. Mattei said that my port came out pretty easily but he could see why it was difficult to access: it was in my skin pretty deep. My port served me well, but I’m glad it’s out. That’s one less daily reminder of going through cancer treatment.

After getting discharged, my parents and I went to visit my friend AJ Mattia and his mom. I met AJ while we both were in CHOP. His mom read my blog and she reached out to us for advice and support when we were both in treatment a few months ago.

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About this blog
Rachel Kovach, 12, is a seventh-grader at Mother Theresa Regional School in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. She lives in Highlands, N.J., near the Sandy Hook national seashore, with her parents, Mari and Kurt Kovach.

Since first grade, Rachel has been swimming with the Monmouth Barracudas, a year-round competitive United States Swimming Club program. She hopes to continue competitive swimming after her cancer treatment; if not, she envisions coaching someday or maybe a career in medicine. Figure skating and jazz dancing have been big parts of her life. One of the things she hates about being in the hospital is missing her dog Cocoa and her many friends.

Rachel's doctors

These are the key physicians overseeing Rachel’s care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

Naomi BalamuthNaomi Balamuth, pediatric oncologist, specializes in treating pediatric sarcomas, a subset of solid tumors.



Richard B. WomerRichard B. Womer, pediatric oncologist, led studies of the latest chemotherapy treatment protocol for Ewing’s sarcoma.



John P. DormansJohn P. Dormans, M.D., chief of orthopaedic surgery, is an international expert in the surgical treatment of musculoskeletal tumors.


Timeline of Rachel Kovach’s Treatment

Dec. 3, 2010: Pain in Rachel's right knee is initially diagnosed as tendinitis.

Jan. 20: An MRI reveals a tumor in right leg.

Jan 24: Rachel sees John Dormans, chief of orthopedic surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Jan. 27: A biopsy confirms Ewing's sarcoma.

February to mid-April: Regimens of chemotherapy alternate every other week. The three-drug regimen is given over two days; the two-drug regimen is given over five days.

May 3: Surgery replaces most of the right femur with a prosthesis.

May 5: A Children's Hospital team will help Rachel get out of bed.

May 10 to September: Alternating regimens of chemotherapy are to resume.

Around May 10: Physical therapy will begin in the hospital and continue for at least several months after Rachel goes home.

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