portacath and swimming

I had a portacath fitted on Thursday last week and my first chemo (FEC X 6) on Friday. I would really like to swim as soon as possible as I have a frozen shoulder which is at the stage where swimming for exercise is advisable but I understand that there are times in your chemo cycle when this is not advisable. Does anyone have any advice for me please ?

Very interested in this post 4 leafclover because I was told i couldn’t swim at all during chemo due to infection risks. I tried to have a conversation with some of my nurses about the rationale and evidence base, which quickly turned into an alarmist discussion about life and death infections. I found it very frustrating because I wasn’t trying to ‘rebel’ or ’ do my own thing’ just make an informed decision, since I have always enjoyed swimming for fitness and wanted so very much to keep it going after my breast surgery. I couldn’t see why it would be so risky to swim on the third week for example, especially as i have access to a quietish pool… As it happens I haven’t been swimming at all. please let me know what you have been advised.
xx carmel

Hi there, I was told not to go swimming at all during chemo as the risk of infection is even greater via water. Believe me you don’t want to get an infection … I’ve been there and the enforced stay in hospital is grim! (No offence to the nurses and doctors … it was just the loss of freedom!)

Shelagh x

Hi there-can I join in this one please as I too swim regularily and rely on it to keep swelling in my legs under control (a result of a previous gynae cancer leading to lymphoedema). I was diagnosed in October-have had 2 lots of surgery, managed to get back to the pool between times and hoping to get back again next week. However I am waiting for an app with onc with probability of chemo to come, and had hoped (maybe unrealistically?) to continue swimming if I felt ok, and now wondering if this is going to be possible.
I saw the interview (controversial, I know) with Tricia and she spoke about someone who had swam during treatment-running is most definitely not an option…!!
Lyn x

Hi all

I have a Portacath and have been swimming during chemo with no problems (I’ve got lymphoedema too, Elsie, so O like to do it regularly). I didn’t receive any advice to the contrary. However, I was fortunate to have access to a private pool used by only a few other people, so I presume the risk of infection was lower.

I think ‘informed decision’ is right. If you are happy with the state of the pool you want to use and can find times when it is at its least crowded…? I don’t know… medical staff will never advise you to anything they feel is risky, but on the other hand you could swim for months and have no problems. Perhaps a compromise could be to avoid the pool on the days your resistance is at its lowest?



Yes Bahons that sounds a sensible suggestion. Don’t have access to private pool but would be easy to find out quiet times and probs first thing in the morning when the filtration system has been working all night-also no kids!!! boost!
Intend to dicuss it with onc when I eventually get my appt! Also looking into accessing quiet gym at local school once the kids have left-am friendly wiht the PT so should be ok. Will keep you posted as to how I get on. xx

Hi there,
Bahons, I was most interested in your suggestions which seem very sensible and very rational to me!. The alarmist discussion i described above really put me off but im going to give this some thought again. I really wanted to work out what posed the most risk… the actual water born lergy even amoungst the chlorine! or the volume of people frequenting the pool. I feel we can address the later issue as you’ve described by swimming at a less crowded pool… any avid scientist out there that might be able to shed some light on the logic of water being more infectious than air…maybe it is to do with the heat of pools and pool side atmosphere?? … Anyway info was all i was after in the first place from the ‘experts’. I really miss my swims…
Elsie do let us know how you get on with the onc.
b/w carmel

Will do if I ever get appointment in!! Waiting is awful. In the meantime I have the new session timetable for the pool and intend getting back in tomorrow after 4 weeks away-can’t wait! It’s not just the physical benefits of swimming I like-psychologically I always feel better and more positive about everything when I can swim regularily-I put on my swimp3 and then switch off for an hour, which is very difficult to do just now when your mind is all over the place!!
Wednesday I am off to an exercise and relaxation seminar run by BCC and taken by a Dr Anna Campbell, so if I get the opportunity I will ask what her take on it is.
All the best girls and keep posting if you find out any more! Lyn xx

I would like to know about swimming too. I was told not to while having chemo, because of the risk of infection, but someone else told me that they did swim. Is the risk of infection higher in water? For me doing some form of exercise makes me feel better. I am not working at the moment and I have started going for a walk whenever I can because it makes me feel better. I am only on my 2nd chemo so maybe I will get less able to manage it but at the moment feel OK. Has anyone else done any form of exercise throughout treatment?

Hi all, one of the BCC nurses has written this post to provide you with the information you have asked about. I hope you find it helpful.

Best wishes
Sam (BCC Facilitator)

The advice not to swim while having a Portacath in situ is to avoid the risk of infection when the immune system is compromised during chemotherapy. Some people do decide to swim, during chemotherapy, but the general advice is to avoid any situation where the risk of infection is increased.

As the risk of developing infections is different from person to person and chemotherapy regimes also differ in how they affect white blood cells, it would be important for individuals to speak to their own specialist about how their blood counts have been so far if they wished to go swimming. A specialist may also be able to suggest whether there is a better time to go swimming during chemotherapy i.e when white cell count is the highest.

If an individual does decide to go swimming whilst on chemotherapy or with a Portacath in situ, then general health advice when swimming suggests that drying yourself and your hair as soon as possible after swimming or wearing a swimcap might also lessen the chances of infection, as would wearing shoes such as flip flops when not actually in the pool.

Thanks for that… so it seems to me that the blanket advice may be unpicked a little after all. These are useful comments and Im going to discuss this issue with my doc. Im not sure i would have swum much on the EPI but now im on xeloda and feeling a ton better, swimming would be great for me… a gentle way back into exercise.
Loo, I think its great that you are walking as and when you feel up to it. Some people on chemo can’t manage any exercise at all because they feel so weak and sick but others, from what iv read, manage to run and climb throughout treatment. I guess we are all different. I, like you, walked throughout the EPI… more than anything to help me manage horrid SEs. I found that even on my sickest days a half an hour stagger around the park (sometimes hanging onto someone) lifted my spirits and actually made me feel better. Each to their own though and I wouldn’t presume to recomend or suggest to anybody… On my good weeks I would go for longer walks in the countryside with friends. Only by cycle 4 did i feel too depleted to get out and about in this way. Now im much stronger im exercising every day, either a walk or gentle pilates/ yoga type exercises. Because iv put on quite a bit of weight through the surgery and chemo, this is helping to feel a bit better about myself… like im going in the right direction now…
All personal i suspect, but good luck with the walks and i hope you manage to continue if its helping you.
xx carmel

Hi Everyone on this thread.
Thanks Carmel for your encouragement. I agree that we are all different and understand how exercise can be difficult for some people but like you, even just going for a walk makes me feel better. Before all this I was quite active, not super fit or anything but swam and walked a bit. I am already putting on weight and with everything else - having a mastectomy, losing my hair, It makes me feel better about myself too. I will give the swimming a miss until chemo is finished though, would rather be safe than sorry.
Good luck to everyone else with whatever you decide to do and lets all look forward to the day when we can just swim, walk, run, or just sit at home and eat chocolate without any worries.

Hi everyone-great to read comments and get different viewpoints. I normally swam 3-4 miles a week prior to diagnosis. Went back in Monday night as was feeling very low and anxious-did 50 lengths and felt great physically and mentally! I also walk as much as possible as with being off work I too am putting on weight!
Finally got my onc app on Monday so will bring up the question of swimming-ideally I would like to continue but if it means being at risk from infection then may well give it a miss. Seminar I was at on Wednesday didn’t help on that question as she was basically non-commital but from the point of view of exercising through treatment where possible it confirmed what I had felt myself, though in reality as I have no idea how I am going to feel once it all starts it’s a matter of watch this space!
Keep posting girls and let us know how you are getting on. Lyn x

I have a Portacath and have been swimming in the work of chemo with no issues (I have got lymphoedema , Elsie, so O like to do it regularly). I didn’t get any advice to the contrary. However, I was lucky to have access to a private pool used by only a few other people, so I presume the risk of infection was lower.
I think ‘informed decision’ is right. In case you are happy with the state of the pool you need to make use of and can find times when it is at its least crowded…? I don’t know… medical staff will never advise you to anything they feel is dicy, but on the other hand you could swim for months and have no issues. Perhaps a compromise could be to keep away from the pool on the days your resistance is at its lowest?