Making a decision

After reviewing the information presented and the comparison chart, discuss with the doctor his opinion about the merits of each catheter. Talk over the pros and cons with your child if she is old enough. Then make the rounds of the cancer ward, asking both parents and children which type of catheter they chose and why. You will probably hear many opinions on the benefits and drawbacks for each catheter.

When we asked one of the young children on the ward which catheter she had, she pulled up her shirt with a big grin to show us her Hickman. She had a coil of white tubing neatly taped to her chest. My husband's face turned as white as her tubing.

My 4-year-old daughter loved ballet and was extremely interested in her appearance. Her younger sister was very physical, and we were worried that if we chose the Hickman she would grab and pull on the tubing. We chose the Port-a-cath so that she could wear her tutus without reminders of cancer, and so the children could play together without mishap.

We chose the Hickman for Shawn because we didn't want any needles coming at him. He spent almost the whole first year in the hospital, so it saved him from so many pokes. The line was a blessing. He went three years and three months with no infections. We thought it was just a beautiful thing.

The nurses in the clinic and on the ward are another source of valuable information. They will have seen dozens (or hundreds) of children with catheters, and will be able to give excellent advice, given your family situation. There is no right or wrong choice, just different options for each unique child.

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