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My silicon implant nightmare

A Strabane woman who survived breast cancer only to have the silicon implants of her reconstruction surgery leak – then replaced by implants linked to cancer – has spoken out about her nightmare in a bid to warn others.
Mother-of-three Liza Kilpatrick (42) was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2013. She had a double mastectomy and, after treatment, had reconstructive surgery in 2015. She thought her health nightmare was over, but it was only beginning.
“I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer when I was 36 years old,” she says. “I had my left breast removed and needed to have six months of chemo. Then because the form of cancer I was diagnosed with has a high rate of return I wanted to reduce my risk as much as I could. I had the right breast removed also and had immediate reconstruction and had implants put in in Altnagelvin Hospital.
“Last year I was running back and forth to the doctors because I didn’t feel well at all. All my cancer scans were coming back clear. But I was so sick, being physically sick, all the time, the fatigue was unreal, I had constant headaches and tingling in my hands and feet, and I had a metal taste in my mouth.
“I genuinely thought that my cancer had come back. I was petrified. I was convinced that it was in my brain and that I was going to die, that I wasn’t going to see my children grow up. I thought that this was it for me.
“I went back for more hospital tests and they discovered one of my silicone implants had ruptured. Silicone toxicity is serious and I had all the symptoms, it really was terrifying. I had to have surgery on December 19 to remove and replace the leaking implant. I just wanted these things out of me because I felt they were poisoning me. I was concerned about them putting silicone back in, but my doctor reassured me that they were safe.
“When I woke up from the surgery I was elated. I had the silicone – the bad implants out – and I thought I was going to get better.
“I was horrified when I got home to find out that Allergen textured implants and the expander implants that I had placed in my chest had been withdrawn by the manufacturer due to fears over links to cancer.”
Liza was horrified to learn that the breast implants, which are one of the most popular types in the UK, have been pulled off the market in Europe after a global investigation raised concerns about the link between textured implants, which have a roughened surface, and a rare cancer of the immune system called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).
“I don’t drink or smoke, I train three times a week, I eat really healthily, I don’t eat meat, I do everything to keep myself as well as possible and reduce my risk of the cancer coming back,” she says. “And to discover this, I felt sick to my stomach. I fear that women who have these currently inside their bodies are not being contacted to be made aware and to be aware of symptoms involved with this man-made breast implant related cancer.
“These implants have been used up to December 19 on breast cancer patients at Altnagelvin Area Hospital. As far as I’m aware no patients who have these have been contacted to be made aware of symptoms related to the lymphoma related to breast implants.
“I want these implants out. There were major concerns over them going back months before the recall and they were putting them into people who suffered cancer already. The surgeon says he would remove them and refer me to Belfast where they can do reconstruction surgery using muscle from my back. But I could be waiting for a year for that. It’s a massive step back after I’ve been through so much. I do not want this foreign object in my body. It leaves me in fear of my life.”
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons advised its members in December to stop using the implants immediately, but said the scientific data did not suggest the need to remove or exchange any current implants.
When contacted this week Western Trust said reiterated that it could not comment on individual cases. However a spokesperson added, “Allergan textured breast implants were withdrawn from use on 19 December 2018. The current guidance from the Department of Health (DoH), the Association of Breast Surgeon (ABS) and the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons(BAAPS) is that these implants do not need to be removed. The Western Trust will continue to follow guidance provided by the DoH and the respective professional bodies on this matter.”

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