Melissa’s Story: Restoring normal blood flow
As a young mother filled with aspirations for herself and her daughter, Melissa was devastated when she was diagnosed with a terminal cancer at the age of 29. Given only four months to live she was determined to somehow fight and overcome this rare cancer. In order to begin chemotherapy treatments a port was implanted under the skin on the left side of her chest through which Melissa would receive treatments. Over the next few months, she received the necessary life-saving treatments and was soon in remission. Concerned that the cancer might reappear she decided to keep the chemotherapy port never realizing the effects of that decision.
Melissa soon after began to experience severe swelling in her upper body, bloodshot eyes, restless sleep and flushing or fullness in her face anytime she exerted herself even during simple and every day activities such as bathing or getting ready for work. She also had unexplained weight gain. One morning she woke up and her symptoms had worsened overnight. She was rushed to the ER where it was determined that the port needed to be removed immediately. But the symptoms persisted for two years, during that time she was unable to find relief from the pain and anxiety she experienced daily. She was determined to beat this but couldn’t help feeling hopeless at times until she found an online support group where she found comfort and encouragement from others who had had a similar experience.
Melissa was referred to Dr. Syed Rizvi, a vascular surgeon with PVA whose expertise lies in the arteries and veins of the body, after she was diagnosed with a blood clot in one of the main chest veins. Upon her initial visit, Dr. Rizvi was able to diagnose what was happening and the cause of her symptoms. The chemotherapy port catheter tip by its prolonged presence in the superior vena cava had irritated the inner lining of the vein resulting in scar tissue formation. This scar caused the blockage of the main vein returning blood from the upper half of the body into the right atrial chamber of the heart. With an over 90% blockage, flow impedance was such where blood return was being backed up instead of flowing freely. The congestion worsened with any activity or even bending over often resulting in a suffocating feeling while lying flat. Dr. Rizvi conducted an outpatient procedure where he inserted a balloon inside the superior vena cava allowing blood to once again flow normally.
Today, Melissa is in her fifth year of remission, she is beyond grateful for the expert care she received from Dr. Rizvi. “He changed my life. I went from not being able to do anything including putting on my shoes, taking a shower, or putting on my makeup. Now I’m able to live a normal life again.” She does not take for granted the simple daily tasks that were once a struggle.