My name is Robyn Towt, and I’m a breast cancer survivor. I am here at my own expense today, and I have no conflicts of interest.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, and I chose to have a double mastectomy, and I did reconstruction with tissue expanders and these Mentor silicone implants.
These were mine, in my body. There are no leaks, there are no ruptures, they are perfectly pretty just like on your pamphlets. They’re brand new. And they made me horribly ill.
I’ve had cancer three times in my life, and those breast implants were worse than all three of my cancers put together.
Keep in mind, I want to let you know I did not have chemo, I did not have radiation. I felt great when I had breast cancer, until I got breast implants and they took me down.
And I worry for my breast cancer sisters because a lot of them blame their symptoms on chemo and radiation and I had neither.
Yet, I explanted after only four months, and all of my symptoms disappeared within one week. Every single one of them.
So, we’ve heard a lot these last two days, doctors saying that all of their patients are completely happy with their implants. Those surgeons aren’t seeing their patients. Their patients are seeing neurologists, endocrinologists, allergy specialists; they’re not going back to their surgeons. So, we’re missing the mark here. The system has greatly failed us.
The benefits do not outweigh the risks. The majority of the benefits are monetary benefits from the industry people and the surgeons. Not the patients.
We also heard earlier this morning from Dr. Sowder, who talked about social media being a group of women that are feeding off of each other. But our women get better after their explants, and our women aren’t making up bald spots on their head, skin rashes, puffy face and eyes. It’s not a placebo effect. We get better after explant.
So after I found about BII, I joined a group called ‘Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole.’ I’m also an admin on that group; we have 70,000 women. So, as I stand here and talk to you, I want you to picture, please, behind me 70,000 women, and if that’s hard for you to picture, it’s about the size of a football stadium where a Super Bowl would take place.
So, I also believe that if everyone says that BII is rare and ALCL is rare, then maybe the industry should help pay for our explants. If there’s not very many of them, then it shouldn’t cost that much.
I work closely with the Arizona Society of Plastic Surgeons, and this was my patient information booklet that I never got. I didn’t get this until five months after my explant, and my Arizona surgeons told me they only get a couple of these in each box with a whole shipment of implants. So, I also talked to a Mentor rep who told me they throw a few in with a whole shipment of implants, but the surgeon is welcome to ask for more and they would be happily provided.
There’s a large disconnect. The patients haven’t been protected.
This has been going on for decades. It’s time to do the right thing. You’ve heard all of our pleas today, the same pleas you’ve been hearing for the last 30-plus years. I don’t even need to name them all, we all know what they are: Informed consent, a patient-doctor checklist. I created one; I have copies. Please see me after the meeting.
And I will be available for anyone to talk to after the meeting.
Thank you for having me today.
[Open public comment given by breast implant recipient and three-time cancer survivor Robyn Towt at the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel on March 26, 2019. The title of this article does not constitute part of the speaker’s comment to the FDA and any hyperlinks bracketed text were added for clarity or ease of use by editors.]