My name is Anne Stansell and I live in New Mexico.
I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at the age of 39. The doctor said I needed mastectomies, radiation therapy, and breast implants. Implants were just part of the treatment, no discussion. I trusted the doctors who I felt had just saved my life.
I didn’t know that safety studies of breast cancer survivors with implants had never been done.
I was fine for the first five years. Then I became very ill. I was diagnosed with Graves Disease and fibromyalgia. My eyes were so dry that my retina tore.
My implants were taken out about two years later. I had to fight with my insurance company to get them to cover the removal.
Half of one of my implants was gone. Where did the silicone go? I don’t know.
Even with silicone left inside me, almost immediately I began to get better. My family really noticed the difference – even before I did.
I’m still recovering, and I can work some now.
I thought of my own experience when I heard about the Inamed study of breast cancer patients. I had many of the same local complications. I can’t even remember how many surgeries I needed. Silicone was found in my side, when it migrated from the broken implant.
The Inamed cancer patients also had an increase in some autoimmune symptoms during the first two years. I think my symptoms started in the third year, so it is likely that those signs and symptoms will increase over time, just like mine did.
It doesn’t do cancer patients any favor to give them the kind of choice that I was given. A choice isn’t a choice if it isn’t a safe choice.
Informed consent isn’t possible if the physicians think that FDA approval means a product is safe.
The FDA’s job is to look at the research, but I hope they will listen to the patients, too. We illustrate the data. We are the examples of what can – and has – happened to tens of thousands of women across the country.
Anne told her story when she testified before the FDA in October 2003.