Anyone that goes through chemotherapy, knows how brutal the process is on their body as well as their minds. A beating from a bully might be better than going through chemotherapy. The reason being is that you can make a full recovery from your wounds sooner and with more vigor. Personally I prefer neither but would probably choose the latter. When seeking chemotherapy treatment, you are essentially trying to kill fast-growing cancer cells in your body. At the same time, chemotherapy doesn’t discriminate and kills healthy cells and your immune system. The immune system sees a decrease the number of white blood cells in your body which are needed to fight infections. Having a low white blood cell is a sign of a weak immune system, which increases your risk of infection during treatment. Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) helps fight of infections while your immune system is compromised.
What Is Neulasta?
So what is Neulesta (#neulasta)? Neulasta is a man-made protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells. These proteins are designed to mimic the proteins inside you that activate your body to produce white blood cells. This prescription medication is used to help reduce the chance of infection due to a low white blood cell count. The low white blood cell count are due to receiving cancer chemotherapy. This is performed by injection usually given within 24 hours after you receive chemotherapy treatment.
In order to make this protein for human use, believe it or not, it is made from the bacterial fermentation of a strain of E coli. We are talking about the same E coli that is the cause of food contamination. This strain of bacteria has been genetically altered to contain the human G-CSF gene. This is the gene that stimulates neutrophils which are forms of white blood cells.
Although careful thought was considered in the creation of this drug, there are some common side effects associated with the Neulasta shot. The most common are due to the injection under the skin which include bone pain, pain in your extremities such as your arms or legs. You might also experience reactions at the injection site such bruising, swelling, pain, redness, or a hard lump.
Other side effects which would require immediate medical attention include a sudden or severe pain in your left upper stomach spreading up to your shoulder. You can add symptoms such as severe dizziness, skin rash, warmth, redness, or a tingly feeling. Don’t panic if you encounter rapid breathing or feel a shortness of breath, just call you doctor. Also beware of signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding. Other signs of infection may include a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores and unusual weakness.
In order to counteract some of the side effects, your doctor may prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to treat bone pain. NSAIDs include over the counter medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Neulasta helps the body make more white blood cells by stimulating the immune system, which also creates histamines. So your doctor also may recommend an antihistamine. Some patients experience a ruptured spleen after using this prescription drug. Doctors need to monitor your spleen and any upper abdominal or shoulder pain.
We all know that when being treated for cancer, the hospital bills become the size of the budgets of a major corporation. This cost can basically be associated with at what price do you value human life. If you have health insurance, your ability to manage costs is protected. But what if insurance doesn’t exist. Are you willing to basically buy a house to treat cancer. By this I mean that treatment can reach several hundred thousand dollars and that is a nice house. Consider that Neulasta can cost between $5000 to $8000 dollars a dose. Consider also that you might need several doses during a chemotherapy cycle. It gets even worse if you have to go through several chemotherapy cycles.
There is value in human life but is being bankrupt worth living a few more years?