BIRTH CONTROL HORROR: ‘The contraceptive implant stopped me getting pregnant… but gave me CANCER'
Here's my shocking story in today's Sun about Amy who believes the contraceptive implant gave her breast cancer. She is undergoing treatment and is determined to beat this awful disease for the sake of her son Dylan #breastcancer #contraceptiveimplant #raisingawareness#thesun
A mum-of-one who has relied on the contraceptive implant for the last eight years is convinced the device caused her cancer.
Amy Boyle, 25, had the small plastic rod placed under the skin on her arm following a teenage pregnancy, only to recently discover it may have been putting her life in danger the whole time.
The young mum from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and after having a mastectomy to remove her left breast, is now undergoing gruelling chemotherapy.
After Amy had a baby aged 17, she visited her GP to discuss birth control and was advised to have the contraceptive implant, a small plastic rod that releases the hormone progestogen into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
She says she was never told of its risks but has now found that studies have shown the contraceptive pill and implant can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Her nightmare began when she found a lump in her breast in April 2019.
She said: “I noticed something felt strange in my left breast whenever I lifted my arm up and down. When I examined myself, I felt a lump the size of a golf ball. I was absolutely terrified.
“I’d actually felt a lump five years earlier, but my doctor told me it was a cyst and nothing to worry about. Now I feared it was the same lump that had kept on growing. I asked my mum Deborah to check it and she urged me to get it checked out.”
On the 11th April, Amy attended the doctors once again to express her worry about the lump.
She said: “My GP wasn’t concerned at all and assured me that because I was so young, it would be nothing to worry about. I was referred to hospital just to make sure.”
On the 20th April, Amy attended hospital where she had an ultrasound and a biopsy of her left breast.
She said: “I was sent away after this and told I would receive the results in the post. I was assured I’d be fine because I was 25.
“Deep down I was convinced it was bad news and the word cancer kept whirring through my mind.”
On the 25th April, Amy received a phone call from the hospital who told her to attend five days later for a further biopsy. This time the procedure would be more in-depth.
“My automatic reaction to the phone call was - why do they need to do a further biopsy? What if I have cancer? How am I going to tell everyone, especially my son? How did this even happen?”
On the 30th April, Amy had a further biopsy under local anaesthetic. Her consultant explained the previous procedure had shown abnormal cells.
“I was told again that my results would arrive in the post. But by now I was telling myself I had cancer. I was so stressed I didn’t sleep or eat properly.”
Sadly, Amy’s instinct was right and on the 10th May this year, she was seen by her consultant who broke the news she had breast cancer.
“My mum was sitting by side as I was given my diagnosis. Hearing the words sent me into shock. I didn’t cry, I was just numb.
“I was so confused how I could have cancer. I’d been told I was too young and I also had no family history of it. Then the consultant said I urgently needed to have my contraceptive implant removed because it was feeding my cancer.
“A nurse later told me about the increased risks of the pill and contraceptive implant and said that it was likely the hormones in the implant increased the risk of me getting breast cancer. I researched this and became convinced the disease had been growing inside me since the implant was fitted in my arm.”
Amy met with a Macmillan nurse who specialised in breast cancer and was given a book called Mummy’s Lump.
She said: “I got my eight-year-old son Dylan to read it to me that night. As we looked through it together, he had lots of questions for me. He was worried I was going to die and it was heartbreaking to assure him I wouldn’t.”
That week, Amy had the implant removed. She’d had it put in her left arm - the same side as her cancer was found – eight years previously, with it being removed and replaced every three years.
She said: “At the time, my GP advised it as the best form of contraceptive for me. They didn’t want me to go on the Pill because I had a history of stroke and heart attacks in my family."
Amy had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed. Days later, she was told her lump measured 46mm and had tested HER2 positive.
“The tumour contained oestrogen and other hormones, which the nurse explained was another sign my implant was likely to have caused it. This development also meant I had stage 3+ cancer and I now needed a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“The news really shook me. The thought of losing a breast and my hair was unbearable. My life had done a 360 in a matter of days.”
Amy spent hours in pain while wearing the cold cap during chemo, in an attempt to prevent losing her hair, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
She said: “I woke up one morning to find my long dark hair all over my pillow. I was distraught. I’d loved my hair and it had been a huge part of my identity. When I got in the shower it started coming out in clumps.
“Days later, I went to the shops and came home to find Dylan hiding under his quilt. Then he popped out and showed off a newly bald head – he’d asked my mum to shave it for him. My heart nearly burst when he told me: “I did this for you Mammy. Even without hair you look beautiful."
Now Amy is due to start her third cycle of chemotherapy and the treatment will continue until the end of October. It is needed as a precaution after the cancer was removed during the mastectomy. Afterwards, she will have radiotherapy and then move onto cancer drug Herceptin.
Despite the chemo leaving her bedbound, Amy’s biggest worry is the affect her diagnosis is having on her son Dylan, who has come from school crying saying he’s worried his mum is going to die. She is also angry and upset that she has never been warned about the link between hormone contraceptives and cancer.
She said: “The increased risk has never been mentioned to me, not when I first had the implant, nor when it’s been replaced. If I’d have known, I would never have had it.
“Losing my breast and my hair has shot my confidence to pieces but I am determined to stay strong for Dylan. My partner Kieran also recently proposed so I have a wedding to get better for too."
Amy has been warned by her consultant not to use hormonal contraceptives now and that she should opt for the copper coil, which does not contain any hormones.
“I am convinced my cancer was caused by the implant. I don’t want to scare young women, but I want to warn them to check their breasts and to be aware that, as studies have shown, contraceptives containing hormones can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
“I wish I’d never had the implant, it has ruined my life.”