Let Me Get This Off My Chest is a 127-page memoir by Tara Hopko detailing her dire experience with breast implants, breast implant illness, and her path to recovery.1Book: Let Me Get This Off My Chest, © 2018 Tara Hopko. T & MH Services. ISBN: 9781791826963
The book is rated 5 out of 5 stars by 85-90 percent of readers.2Amazon.com, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023 3GoodReads.com, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
Hopko wrote the book in late 2018 and self-published it in January 2019. She recorded and released an audiobook edition in April 2019.4Audible.com, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest.”
The book begins with a graphic anecdote of one of many health episodes that Hopko attributes to the silicone breast implants she had for three years.
“My ah-ha moment finally occurs, right here in the heat of my bathroom, while I silently sob to myself. For the first time in a long time, I finally have a thought of clarity. Something is seriously wrong with me and although the doctors seem to think this is all ‘perfectly normal,’ I am no longer taking that as an answer! I will pull myself together and take my life back from whatever this is that’s eating me alive, or I’ll die trying. In that moment there was one thing I knew for sure: I could no longer live like this but I didn’t want to die.”
Tara Hopko was a competitive bodybuilder and competitive dancer of 11 years, who decided to get breast implants at age 35.
Hopko was born and raised in New Jersey, and worked as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.
“Pre-implants, I was working full time, I was training in the gym three hours a week, I had become a personal trainer, I had gotten my certification. I was kick ass,” she told a podcast host in 2020.5Podcast: Killer Boobies, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest with Tara Hopko,” May 19, 2020
Hopko’s best friend and husband, Matt, was a corrections officer. They married when Hopko was 24, and owned their own home. They have two daughters, who were 11 and 14 at the time of the book’s release.
Three months after publishing Let Me Get This Off My Chest, Hopko was one of 80 women who travelled to Washington, D.C., to testify on breast implants at an FDA panel.6Surgical Times, “Exhaustion, Panic Attacks, and Heart Palpitations; Pre-Explant,” Mar. 25, 2019 7YouTube, Tara Hopko, Mar. 26, 2019
Hopko underwent breast augmentation surgery on April 3, 2015, getting 370 cc textured teardrop cohesive silicone gel breast implants.
Prior to undergoing breast augmentation surgery, Hopko says she and her husband thoroughly researched breast implants.
“I literally asked the questions, ‘Do they cause cancer?’ And, ‘Do they make you sick?’ The answer I got from three different doctors was, ‘They’re completely safe, and everyone does it. So I was led to believe that it was totally safe.”8Podcast: Killer Boobies, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest with Tara Hopko,” May 19, 2020
After researching to find ‘the best’ plastic surgeon, Hopko and her husband next looked at ‘the best’ breast implants: “[W]e found ‘the best’ type of implant, you know, those were ‘the textured [implants].’ They were ‘the best.’
Hopko initially believed she would have implants for the rest of her life: “I was gonna be ‘the best boobs in the nursing home’ some day.”
Breast implant illness
The day after her breast augmentation surgery, Hopko woke in a panic with a “crushing feeling” in her chest.
At her one-month follow up appointment, Hopko’s plastic surgeon noted “Slight lymphadenopathy on both the left and right sides,” which the surgeon explained as “just a simple irritation of the lymph nodes and it’s perfectly normal after surgery.”
In Let Me Get This Off My Chest, Hopko details the many physical symptoms she experienced for the three years that she had breast implants, and the many doctors and specialists she saw to try and solve them.
Specialists refer Hopko to other specialists, but solutions aren’t forthcoming, eventually culminating in Hopko telling her husband it feels like she is slowly dying, and intensively looking for her own answers.
[Read more about the author’s symptoms, story, and recovery here: Tara Hopko’s Open Comment to an FDA Panel.]
Breast implant removal
“After many, many wrong questions, I finally asked the right one: ‘Can my breast implants make me sick?,’” she typed into Google.
Hopko landed on a website created by Nicole Daruda, who had experienced similar physical problems from her own breast implants.9Healing Breast Implant Illness, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
There, Daruda “gave a huge list of symptoms; to which I could relate to 90% of. Everything from fatigue, to hair loss and weight gain, to heart palpitations and vertigo, to swollen lymph nodes and acne, to anxiety and depression, pain, food sensitivities, and a large list of other ailments I was suffering from.”
Shortly thereafter, Hopko returned to a doctor she had been seeing, to receive the results of the latest of “so many” medical tests he had ordered. Like those before it, her test results “looked great.”
When she told this doctor she thought it was her breast implants making her sick, he told her she might actually be right, explained why, and suggested that removing her breast implants was an option.
The surgeon who performed Hopko’s original breast augmentation surgery felt otherwise and “justified every ailment” that she had been experiencing.
Hopko had her breast implants removed by a different plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian R. Buinewicz, on May 4, 2018.10YouTube, Tara Hopko, May 9, 2021
Hopko said she felt immediately better.11WFMZ, “New Jersey Woman Warns of Potential Dangers of Getting Breast Implants,” Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
Hopko now advocates for and assists other women experiencing breast implant illness.12TaraHopko.com, About Me, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
Hopko initially wrote Let Me Get This Off My Chest to share with her young daughters what had been happening with her as their mother during the three years she had implants.
“I decided I wanted to write a memoir for my kids. And I just thought, you know, they have lived this with me—the good, and the bad, and the ugly—and I want them to know all that I had really gone through behind the scenes that I wasn’t letting them know.
“And so I just sat down and I wrote my story and I had my mom read it.
“And she said, ‘You know, Tara, I think maybe other people will want to read this.”
- 1Book: Let Me Get This Off My Chest, © 2018 Tara Hopko. T & MH Services. ISBN: 9781791826963
- 2Amazon.com, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
- 3GoodReads.com, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
- 4Audible.com, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest.”
- 5Podcast: Killer Boobies, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest with Tara Hopko,” May 19, 2020
- 6Surgical Times, “Exhaustion, Panic Attacks, and Heart Palpitations; Pre-Explant,” Mar. 25, 2019
- 7YouTube, Tara Hopko, Mar. 26, 2019
- 8Podcast: Killer Boobies, “Let Me Get This Off My Chest with Tara Hopko,” May 19, 2020
- 9Healing Breast Implant Illness, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
- 10YouTube, Tara Hopko, May 9, 2021
- 11WFMZ, “New Jersey Woman Warns of Potential Dangers of Getting Breast Implants,” Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
- 12TaraHopko.com, About Me, Accessed Feb. 27, 2023
This book is such a wonderful resource!!!!
So incredibly proud of the bravery and truth that is spoken in this wonderful and heart felt book! Thank you Tara for your voice and throwing life lines to others needing to hear this. Helping so many beautiful Souls realize that they are not alone and validating that breast implant illness is very real.