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Everyday Support

Dear Iris: The Pool with a Port

Dear Iris,

When my friend and I met up last week I told her that I have cancer. She was convinced that I’ll need a port for treatment like her mother did. If this is true, does it mean swimming is out of the question for me this summer? That’s one thing I can’t imagine giving up. 


Dear B,

I’m sure your friend was trying to be helpful by sharing this information with you. Many times, those closest to us try to give advice when there’s nothing else, they feel they can do to make a situation better. But know this: not all patients who receive chemotherapy need a port. And having a port does not necessarily mean no swimming. These are both things you can discuss with your oncologist.

Certain chemotherapy treatments may require a port because they can be damaging to the peripheral veins.  Other patients may choose to get a port because they will be having frequent treatments and blood draws are uncomfortable with lots of needlesticks.

If your medical team does recommend a port, know that once it’s healed you CAN shower, swim, or exercise. There’s no need to cover a well-healed port when participating in water sports or activities. You just need to remember to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of infection such as redness, swelling, or fever and alert your doctor if there are changes.

So don’t count yourself out for break time yet! 

Missed last week? Dear Iris: Are My Grilling Days Over?

Christie Frick, BSN, RN, OCN

Senior Oncology Nurse

Iris Oncology

Christie Frick is an Oncology Certified Nurse with over 13 years of experience in hematology-oncology. Her career has taken her across oncology settings, including time spent in pediatric oncology, bone marrow transplant, clinical trials, and infusion. Christie has a passion for comprehensive, culturally competent care that takes into consideration the whole person and their unique experience with cancer. 

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.