Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It was a very difficult decision for me to come to grips with asking for help regarding my situation. I will be as transparent as I possibly can. My name is Katherine Smylie and I am a breast cancer survivor who has had many medical issues throughout my entire life. The reason why I am asking for your help is obviously for financial reasons. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2008 and had my first mastectomy (left side) on December 16, 2008. I unfortunately had complications with this surgery and ended up hemorrhaging within 6 hours after surgery. I was immediately returned to surgery to find out the source of the bleed. About 1.5 months after the mastectomy I started my cancer treatments. I had 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation as I had positive cut lines (cancer along the incision). During my treatments, I was tested for the BRCA gene. Unfortunately luck was not on my side. I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. Based on those results, I went back to my surgeon and requested that I have the right breast removed so that I can minimize my risks of having the cancer return. So in October 2009 I had my right breast removed. This time I hemorrhaged even quicker and much stronger. I was rushed back into the OR to stop the bleeding. Afterwards, I was told that had it been 10 minutes longer, I would have gone into cardiac arrest as I had lost so much blood. Needless to say, it was a trying time. I had decided at that point that reconstruction surgery was not something that I was interested in entertaining. However, I made one of the worst decisions in 2011. I felt that I couldn’t go on feeling less like a woman as I was not just flat but concaved due to both mastectomies. I then decided that I wanted to go ahead with reconstruction. Because all of my tissue was removed from the mastectomies, I had to do what they call a latissimus dorsi flap in order to build skin in my chest to accommodate implants. The reconstruction was definitely NOT a walk in the park. After the initial major surgery to do the flaps and have expanders placed under the tissue, I ended up with an infection in the right breast which didn’t want to close. The timing couldn’t be worse! I was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas for my brother’s wedding. I needed to pack my open wound and change the dressing twice a day. When I returned home from Vegas, I immediately went to the hospital. I knew that something was seriously wrong. I was placed on the list for emergency surgery and had to have the right expander removed and have the pocket cleaned out. I then needed to heal before my surgeon could reinsert the expander. 2 months later, I was healed enough to have it reinserted. 3 months after that I was healed enough to have saline injected into the expanders to help the skin stretch in order to accommodate the implants. Finally in April 2012, I had the surgery for the implants. The surgery went as well as can be expected. It had been a long journey to say the least. Here comes the worst part of all! Last year I heard that there was a voluntary recall on the implants that were used in my reconstruction. My plastic surgeon did not contact me to inform me of this. I found out from a friend and then in turn, I contacted my plastic surgeons office to request the model and brand of my implants. Sure enough, they are the ones on the recall. I have had problems arise around the 2 year mark after the implants were done but never really thought much of it. In May 2016, my migraines came with a vengeance! I was referred to a neurologist but so far 21+ months later, I still have no reprieve. After doing a lot of research on breast implant illness, I started to realize that my symptoms were because of my implants. The reason why I say this is because so many things have come up and all test results have come back negative. I was hospitalized in August 2017 due to adverse reactions to the migraine medications that I was given. It landed me in ICU for 5 days. With an array of tests, still there was nothing to help us get answers.
After reading about BII(breast implant illness), I realized that the toxic bags in my chest were the root of my problems. I have been researching for over a month about this illness and it just made so much sense. The implants that I have are known to cause some women to test positive for BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma). It is a rare type of man made non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The company Allergan is the one that manufactured my implant. Currently there is a large class action lawsuit in France with many women who have contracted this BIA-ALCL from the implants.
The worst of it is that there are no doctors in Canada that can guarantee the type of surgery that I require. It is called en bloc total capsulectomy where the capsule and the implant are removed in one piece. Most doctors in Canada only perform a capsulectomy where they remove the implants first and then try to remove the capsule afterwards. There are no guarantees. There are 4 very highly recommended plastic surgeons in the world that can guarantee an en bloc total capsulectomy and unfortunately none of them are in Canada. 3 of them are in the US and 1 is in Costa Rica. With that being said, it has left me with a situation that is not easy. Yes, I could attempt to have it done in Canada and risk complications if capsules are removed or that there is a rupture in either of my implants which would then contaminate my body with many toxins. So my husband and I have decided that the best and only option for me is to have this surgery done out of country. The surgery is expected to happen sometime in June 2018. This comes with a hefty price tag! I don’t know anyone who has $25,000.00+ dollars just laying around. Especially us. So it is with great difficulty that I am now reaching out to all my friends and family to see if they would be able to help out financially. I know that times are tough for many people and I understand if you are unable to help. Any amount will help so that I can have this surgery done properly. I am asking from the bottom of my heart if you could please help me to get better. I apologize for the length of my story but I wanted you to know everything. I am grateful to you all. Should you have any questions for me, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I will answer any questions as best as I possibly can. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION!!
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