"As women we are inundated with images of how the female body is supposed to look. If we don't like our body, we can nip it, tuck it, inject it and change it. So that's what I did"
In 2009 Alyssa chose to have breast augmentation. In 2018 she learned that breast implant - associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) cancer can be associated with textured implants.
It was shortly after hearing this horrible news, she sent the following message to all of her female friends and family.
This is not a chain email. Please consider this information I am about to share.
I am sending you this message because you are my friend. You are female. You may be going through what I’m about to share, or know someone who is. And I am genuinely concerned for your health and well being regarding a topic you may not be aware of. I would like to emphasize that I am not telling you this information, to gain sympathy. And I am certainly not sharing this information to be judged or criticized.
It was after much deliberation and discussion with women who should be informed about this matter, and weren’t, that I decided I should share my story to the women who are near and dear to me and who may be unaware of this ailment.
So here goes..... I have Allergan 410 textured Breast implants. This is important, because they are the current model of implant that is most associated with Breast Implant Associated-Anapolastic Large Cell Lymphoma or BIA-ALCL. This is a Lymphatic Cancer that grows within the scar tissue capsule that is created by the body, and forms around the implant, shortly after the implant is placed. Someone with these implants may experience swelling, pain, itch and rash around the breast area, as well as breast firmness, or unexplained weight loss and night sweats. Symptoms of this particular lymphoma, generally present themselves after several years of placement. My implants were inserted in 2009.
My first occurrence of signs and symptoms was in September of 2017, and have intensified since. My implants will be removed on May 1, 2019, by way of an En Bloc/ total capsulectomy procedure. This is a rather invasive method, and comes with many risks. So many, the procedure cannot be guaranteed to be performed correctly by most physicians. Once the implants are removed, they will then be sent off for pathology and be biopsied by way of a CD30 test, which is given to determine whether or not I have BIA-ALCL. This is not a breast cancer. It is a lymphatic cancer that forms within the capsule. It is difficult to diagnose through diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound, MRI or mammogram.
Many women go many years with this in their bodies unaware of having this cancer until it is removed, along with their implants and implant capsules. I was not told by my original plastic surgeon in 2009, when I got my implants, that I could develop this rare cancer. I was not given proper informed consent. I was not told of the heavy metal chemical make up of these particular implants, and the autoimmune ailments that go along with heavy metal exposure.
I was not shown any warning labels or given any cautionary direction. Instead I was told the Allergan Textured Implant were safe and long lasting. I was told, aside from regular breast screening, I would not have to worry about these implants for the next 20-30 years. I was misled. I was not warned by my Plastic Surgeon or the manufacturer (Allergan) in 2011 when the first case of BIA-ALCL presented itself. I was not notified by Health Canada or my GP or the ultrasound tech or the thermography tech or my nurse practitioner, in 2017, when I first presented with signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL. Even though there were 700 cases world wide, 12 deaths and 38 countries had banned the use and sale of this particular implant. I was never warned.
No one had brought this particular Breast Implant Associated Cancer to my attention. No one in the medical field knew what to look for or what my problem was or how to treat it. In fact it wasn’t until I did my own research did I begin to get answers. It was a conversation with a good friend of mine, in November if 2018 that lead me to a CTV news report featuring the first diagnosed patient in Canada who had ALCL and Allergan Textured implants. The very same implant that sits upon my chest wall. From there I have joined numerous Facebook support groups to help guide me to the right surgeon, the right testing and the right procedures to follow, to ensure proper testing and care. This has been a challenge for me and for my general practitioner, due to the lack of information made available to her. However, with the help of the ladies who have gone through this and who have become advocates for care in this matter, I have been directed to the right path. I am not telling you this to scare you. That is not my intention. BIA-ALCL is a curable lymphoma. It is rare and it is associated with textured implants only (at this time).
I am telling you this, because maybe no one has and maybe you know someone who needs to know.
I’d like to close with this personal, opinionated message. If you have ever thought that you might like to have breast implants, please reconsider. No cosmetic procedure is worth the risk of your health. If you have breast implants, please listen to your body and seek proper medical attention if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Please feel free to personal message me, if you wish to seek more information on this matter. Please feel free to share this information with other females. Know that I am here to support and listen and guide you in the right direction. I do so only in kindness and love and without judgement and because I care about you and your health.
Thank you Love & kindness Alyssa
THANK YOU Alyssa for sharing your story. THANK YOU for being the wonderful human you are and for doing all you can to help other women and THANK YOU for going the extra mile to help protect others.
Read Alyssa's article in HWS magazine on page 14 here:
Alyssa is the owner and operator of the Ridgeway Massage Therapy Clinic right here in beautiful Ridgeway, Ontario.