Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nupogen scoop

This post is in celebration of my final Nupogen shot! Hoorah!

So for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about - allow me to enlighten you:
In basic terms - Nupogen is an injection that stimulates white blood cell count. When undergoing chemo the white blood cell count has to be at a certain level and if it isn't the treatments are too risky in terms of susceptibility to infection. The vast majority of people who are on the chemo regime which I am on are required to take this drug in order to stay on track with treatments. So the long and short of it for a huge amount of people on chemo is: No Nupogen no treatment.

Depending on the chemo regime, folks take between 4 and 7 injections in-between their treatments. I have been taking 5 injections in between treatments. I get up and haul my butt to the CCAC (community care access center) at the Guelph hospital once a day for five days and one of the kind nurses there gives me my injection.

The kicker: the major symptom from this injection is a "full body bruise" feeling. Like chemo isn't bad enough!! Anyway for 2 days or more my back, shoulders, arms, neck jaw are super tender and feel bruised underneath the skin. Good times!

The other kicker: This little vial that they prick you with which makes you feel like crap costs approximately 300 dollars a vial. Most people need approx 7 of these twice a month. You do the math. Keep in mind what I mentioned earlier - "no Nupogen - no treatment".

The irony: You may be wondering how a poor artist such as myself might be able to pay for this. Thankfully I'm not. Since I don't have any drug coverage I am saved by a government funded "compassionate care" program which covers ALL of my Nupogen along with other very expensive drugs that aren't covered by OHIP. If had any coverage at all - then I would have to pay whatever was not covered. For a lot of people who have partial drug coverage this can still add up to a LOT of money per month.

Don't get me wrong - I am beyond grateful that I am being covered for these drugs since, quite frankly, I have NO idea how I would be paying for it otherwise. It's just crazy to me that this shot for so many people, could be a matter of life and death, and somehow they have to come up with between $1500 and $2100 just to make sure they can continue their chemo treatments, depending on what kind of coverage they have.

It's definitely a bit of a mind bender for me. Then when I think of the stress of cancer patients south of the border...who have no government support and are facing a life threatning illness.
I can't even imagine what a truly scary prospect this must be for so many.

There was your little Nupogen tutorial.

So today I walked into the clinic and received my shot for what I hope was my very last time. Super amazing feeling.
I write this from bed, feeling a bit bruised but smiling large.

Good-bye Nupogen!! You served me well, but you shan't be missed!

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