Oklahoma City woman forming support, education group for breast implant illness sufferers

OKLAHOMA CITY - We have an update to a special report we brought you a few months back about mysterious symptoms believed to be linked to a common procedure. It's called breast implant illness - and, although it's not scientifically proven, it's recently been recognized by the FDA.

Now - a victim we spoke to with said countless women have reached out to both her and her doctor after seeing our story.

"You do feel like it's in your head," Paula Wilson said four months ago when we first spoke to her. "Like, am I causing this?"

After surviving thyroid cancer, Wilson got breast implants, thinking it would help turn around her life.

Instead - the next 14 years were filled with seizures - unexplained rashes and questions.

"Cancer - for me - the treatment was easier," Wilson said. "I was able to function with my family."

After getting her implants removed, Wilson said she immediately felt better and just knew they were the root of the problem, though it's never been scientifically proven.

Wilson has an annual scan for thyroid cancer now. It was at an appointment there that she realized she could be part of the answer.

"When I had my implants taken out and the inflammation went down, they saw something they weren't able to see before," she said.

Wilson said, after sharing her story with News 4, the calls started coming.

"She said 'Guess what, Paula?' and I said 'You have it, you're going through it too, aren't you?'" she said.

So many calls - Wilson started a Facebook group called 'Breast Implant Illness Oklahoma.' It's centered around support.

"We call ourselves 'The Flamingo Sisters' because we don't stand alone," she said. "It makes you feel good when you have a chronic illness and you can wake up and be greeted in the morning by people that understand."

Wilson's Facebook group also focuses on education.

"I don't just want to gather women together," she said. "I want to find the answer."

Wilson said women have reached out to her from as far away as France and a bit closer across the Red River. But, there's no rivalry here.

"We kind of have a 'rave-ery.' We're working together, trying to get this done," she said.

Wilson's creating a list of doctor recommendations but only after she meets with them face-to-face first.

"I can at least meet them and know that our purposes are the same, and that's to make that person feel better," she said.

Wilson said many people in Oklahoma are looking for help.

"Most of those are from small towns that have nowhere to go but call the big city and what they're finding is it's taking them a long time to find the right doctor," she said.

Wilson's doctor, local plastic surgeon Derek Shadid, said he's performing more and more explants, with many of the women seeing improvements after. He's also educating women on symptoms to look out for like joint pain and fatigue.

However, both Shadid and Wilson agree that many women can have implants with no problems.

"I am not 'ban implants;' I am 'education on implants,'" Wilson said.

The FDA said the symptoms of BII are being researched and it is asking women to report their symptoms.

Wilson said, to raise awareness, she and other BII survivors in Oklahoma City hope to have a walk where they meet survivors from Dallas halfway between the two cities.

Just this week, Allergan issued a worldwide recall of Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders that have been linked to a rare cancer. The move came after the US Food and Drug Administration requested the manufacturer voluntarily recall the products.

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