Kimra Rogers was horrified to learn she had cancer and even more shocked to discover that her cancer was linked to breast implants she had gotten 17 years previously.
1 in 30,000 women could develop breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer which is linked to implants and 359 women have been diagnosed globally so far. Nine have since died.
Kimra’s ordeal began when she found a tumour under her arm. "I could feel a mass that was the size of an egg, it was an egg to a lemon, it was very large," she explained.
She was distraught when she learned her cancer could be linked to her breast implants.
"I was never informed that I could possibly get cancer. Basically, they said they're 100 percent safe,” she said.
Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston have been researching this cancer for five years now and believe it is linked to the type of breast implant used during surgery.
There are two types of breast implant used in cosmetic surgery, smooth implants are most commonly used but occasionally surgeons use rougher textured implants to limit movement.
Even though only 15 percent of implants used in breast augmentation are textured, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that most women who developed the lymphoma, 203 out of 231 cases, had textured implants.
According to doctors, the body appears to attack the textured implant with an anti-inflammatory response which stimulates a part of the immune system and develops into a lymphoma in some patients.
Kimra faced an ordeal when she decided to have her implants removed three years ago.
Her health insurer told her they were unable to cover the cost of the operation as her implants were a cosmetic procedure.
"I was furious because the first line of defence is to remove the source, the source was still in my body," the mum-of-three told CBS News.
Eventually, she came to an agreement with the insurers who agreed to cover the cost of removal but not reconstruction. The procedures will cost in the region of $9K-$12K in total.
Kimra said she now wants to fight for other women who have this type of cancer to have full health insurance coverage.
“I want to be a precedent. I want to be the leader of the pack for all of the women that are behind me,” she said.