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‘The fatigue was unreal, I was convinced I was going to die’... cancer survivor tells of her implants nightmare after breast surgery

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Mother-of-three Liza Kilpatrick

Mother-of-three Liza Kilpatrick

Mother-of-three Liza Kilpatrick

A Tyrone woman who survived breast cancer then had her reconstruction surgery implants replaced by other implants linked to the disease has spoken out about her "nightmare".

Mother-of-three Liza Kilpatrick, from Strabane, had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2013.

Following reconstructive surgery in 2015, she thought her health struggles were over, but they were just beginning.

"I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer when I was 36 years old," the now 42-year-old explained. "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 reconstruction - I had implants put in at 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 and being physically sick all the time.

"The fatigue was unreal. I had headaches, tingling in my hands and feet and a metal taste in my mouth. I just felt so unwell."

At that point, she was terrified the cancer had returned.

"I was convinced that it was in my brain, that I was going to die and that I wasn't going to see my children grow up - I thought that was it for me," Liza said.

"I went back for more hospital tests and they discovered that 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."

But Liza was horrified to later learn that the breast implants, which were one of the most popular types in the UK, had been pulled off the market in Europe.

The move came 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.

"I was astounded when I got home to find out that Allergan textured implants and the expander implants I had placed in my chest had been withdrawn by the manufacturer due to fears over links to cancer," Liza said.

"I don't drink or smoke. I train three times a week, I eat really healthily, I don't eat meat and I do everything to keep myself as well as possible and reduce my risk of the cancer coming back. 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 were 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."

Liza now, understandably, wants the implants removed.

"There were major concerns over them going back months before the recall and they were putting them into people who suffered cancer already," she said.

"The surgeon said 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 current implants.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said the organisation could not comment on specific cases due to patient confidentiality.

"If a patient or their relative has any issue in relation to their treatment, we would encourage them to raise these issues through the trust's comments and complaints system. the patients' advocate office. The patients' advocate office can be contacted on (028) 7161 1226," the spokesperson added.

"Allergan textured breast implants were withdrawn from use on December 19, 2018.

"The current guidance from the Department of Health (DoH), the Association of Breast Surgery and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is that these implants do not need to be removed.

"The Western Trust will continue to follow the guidance provided by the DoH and the respective professional bodies on this matter."

Belfast Telegraph