Every 28 days, without fail, a visiting nurse pulls up in front of our house and comes in to give me an injection of Sandostatin LAR. Today was the 100th of those butt darts!
Sandostatin LAR is a long-acting treatment meant to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) and for me it has been an absolute life changer! No longer do I live with the stomach pains and diarrhea that plagued me off and on for several years prior to diagnosis. Though the effect of Sandostatin on tumour size, rate of growth, and development of metastases has not yet been determined, it is thought that it might also be of benefit in those areas.
Sandostatin comes as a powder and a diluent solution that must be mixed and administered according to very precise instructions which is why I haven’t been taught to inject it myself. Once the diluent is added to the powder, it must be allowed to stand for a minimum of 2 minutes and not more than 5 to ensure that the powder is fully saturated. Then, after gently shaking the syringe for about 30 seconds to ensure that the powder is completely suspended, the nurse has to administer it without delay to avoid sedimentation. Even following these guidelines carefully and using a fairly large needle (19 gauge), it sometimes plugs. On those occasions, she has to quickly change the needle and try again. On a couple of occasions it has taken 4 jabs to get the medication into me! My 100 butt darts has actually involved about 130 pokes altogether.
In addition to the benefits that the drug offers, getting it into me and not wasting it is of vital importance because every one of those butt darts costs $2358.52 CAD! In other words, over the past almost 8 years, we have pumped more than $235,000 into my posterior! You could buy a nice house in our small town for that much.
This is where I’m really glad to be Canadian. I pick up the Sandostatin at my local pharmacy every 4 weeks and don’t pay a cent! The cost is fully covered by the government and that includes the cost of having the nurse come to my home. A Mobile Administration Program even enables me to have my injection administered by a trained nurse anywhere else in Canada. A simple phone call is all it takes to make the arrangements. I have to take the medication, which has to be refrigerated, with me but I’ve found that an insulated lunch bag and a mini freezer pack do the job as long as I can put it in a fridge overnight. So far, I’ve had butt darts administered at all 3 of my children’s homes. Arranging to have it done outside the country would be more complicated and isn’t something I’ve tried at this point.
So, is getting my monthly Sandostatin a pain in the butt? Not really. As a child, I was terrified of needles, but I lost that fear a long time ago. Only once in awhile does really hurt going in. Today was one of those occasions, but it went in on the first try, so I’m not complaining! The injection site often feels bruised for a couple of days and a lump often forms that gradually dissipates over the next few weeks, but these minor inconveniences are well worth it when I consider the benefits. So, 100 butt darts down and here’s hoping that I can have 100 more! Or 200. Or more!