Wanting bigger boobs killed mum
I knew who was on the phone even before I picked it up. My daughter Kerry. She only lived around the corner but we still spoke several times a day.
‘Guess what, Mum?’ she said, before even saying hello.
‘Surprise me!’ I laughed. Kerry was always so fun and impulsive I never knew what she was going to do next.
‘I’ve decided to have a boob job!’ she said. ‘What do you think?’
‘Oh whatever for?’ I said. ‘You look fine just the way you are.’
‘No I don’t, Mum,’ she sighed. ‘Without my clothes on, I look awful.’
And when I popped over to her’s the next day, I have to admit I could see where she was coming from.
‘Look,’ she said, pulling her top up. ‘They look like flaming spaniel’s ears.’
She had a point. Since having Shannon, now 20, Joe, 19, and Lloyd, 15, her once-perky 34As now drooped sadly.
It was true that Kerry’s boobs – or lack of them – had dominated her life since she was a teenager. She didn’t go swimming or wear bikinis. She even stuffed her bra with tissue paper. And it affected her love life, too. She avoided meeting a man because she was nervous about getting intimate.
‘Well, if a boob job will make you happy…’ I relented. Because after all, that’s all every mother wants, isn’t it – for their child to be happy?
So she scrimped and saved to raise the £3,700 to have her breasts boosted to 34C at a London clinic.
And when she saw the results… she burst into tears.
‘I finally feel like a real woman, Mum!’ she beamed.
Not long after her boob job, she met 27-year-old security guard Darren Elia. Within months he had moved in with her and her children – Shannon, then 14, Joe, 13, and Lloyd, nine. I’d never seen her happier. ‘It’s all thanks to my boobs mum,’ she beamed.
But a year later, Kerry developed a bad cough. A chest X-ray revealed she had TB and fluid in her chest cavity needed draining. We were all worried. But slowly, she started to pull through.
And then, during her slow recovery, Darren proposed. I was so pleased for them. He seemed like a lovely bloke.
The next three months flew by in a blur of wedding plans. Every time we spoke, Kerry had another idea to tell me about.
But then morning in January, I picked up the phone expecting to hear about some new plans when –
‘I’m in hospital, Mum,’ Kerry said.
Driving to work, she’d felt something ‘pop’ and a pain in her left breast. Hitting the brakes she looked down to find a weird pink stain<http://www.mirror.co.uk/life-style/dieting/dieting-news/2005/07/13/my-boobs-exploded-twice-115875-15730386/> spreading all over her white T-shirt.
Terrified, Kerry lifted up her top and screamed in horror. There was blood and fluid seeping from an open wound… her boob had exploded.
We rushed to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup where after investigations we were told that the TB bug had attached itself to Kerry’s inner scar tissue, and was gradually eating away at it until it her implant had popped.
Her consultant said it was the first ever case he’d known of TB in breast implants and asked Kerry’s permission to write a case report for a medical journal. Of course she agreed.
But how did she get the bug in the first place, I wanted to know. No one could say for sure. Kerry’s recent trip to Barbados could have been to blame, or the bug could have lay dormant in her body and been triggered by the insertion of her implants.
‘So what do we do now, doctor?’ I asked.
The risk of infection was too great. The implants had to go. Kerry was gutted.
‘I look like a freak!’ she wept, pointing to her flat chest.
Nothing anyone said could change her mind. She took it out on Darren, too. She constantly pushed him away and confided that she’d gone off sex.
Still, they went ahead with the wedding and at the ceremony, despite looking beautiful, Kerry tried to make a joke about her bridal gown sagging around the bust. But inside she was devastated.
‘You’ve got to move on, love,’ I told her. ‘It’s you Darren loves, not your breasts.’
But she slipped into depression. I wasn’t surprised when just three months after their big day, she asked Darren to leave.
I hoped she’d get her life back on track when, 15 months later, she had surgery to reconstruct her 34C boobs at Queen Mary’s. But a few weeks after the operation, she again felt a ‘pop’ and that familiar squelch…
This time, the right one was leaking. But this time, it wasn’t clear liquid like before but a horrible green goo, like pea soup. Kerry’s implants were removed for a second time.
‘Your health’s more important,’ I told her but I could see she was retreating into herself again.
And then, more bad news. Doctors told us Kerry had contracted MRSA. She’d caught the killer superbug while on the operating table for her reconstructive surgery.
She was in a terrible state when we told her.
‘Who’ll look after the kids?’ she wailed.
We tried to stay positive. Being young and healthy she had a good chance of beating the infection but there was one thing I knew could tip her over the edge – she couldn’t have her implants back in until she was free of the disease.
When she found out she was so angry.
‘It’s all the doctors’ fault,’ she fumed. I didn’t have any problems until I stepped inside a hospital. What if I’d passed it on to the kids?’
It was awful, she even had to wear plastic medical gloves to cook the kids tea.
Fortunately, a year later Kerry was given the all-clear. But her body still bore the scars. The hospital gave her some chicken fillets to stuff into her bra. Her right breast had a tiny open wound and livid purple scars snaked across her chest.
‘Who’s going to want me looking like this?’ she wept.
But one person did. I was delighted when she announced she and Darren decided to give things another go.
‘We’re going to try for another baby,’ she told me excitedly.
Kerry had been sterilised after Lloyd’s birth so they had to go through IVF. But they were lucky – on their first attempt she fell pregnant with a little girl.
When Madison – Maddy – was born, Kerry had to go ahead to breast feed.
‘See, everything turned out all right,’ I said to Kerry as I saw the look of absolute contentment on her face.
But then before Madison’s first birthday, Kerry started coughing again. Tests revealed devastating news. Now both she and Madison had TB.
As Maddy wailed through her daily injections, Kerry was overwhelmed with guilt that she’d given it to her daughter via breast milk.
‘How did it come to this mum,’ she sobbed.
Thankfully, six months later, they were both given the all-clear. But then two months later, Kerry found a lump in her left breast. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like one thing after another.
‘What if it’s cancer?’ she gulped.
We paid for her to go private and she had a biopsy at Blackheath Hospital a few days later. To our relief, Kerry didn’t have cancer but a fistula. Basically, after so many operations her breast scar tissue was turning septic.
As sepsis can be fatal, Kerry was advised to have her left breast removed. I worried how she’d cope but when her consultant explained that the likelihood was if one breast was septic the other would be too, she decided to have both removed at the same time.
‘Are you sure, love?’ I asked. It was such a huge sacrifice for her.
But she was adamant. Still, I worried how she’d handle life after the mastectomy. It was only the thought of getting her boobs back that kept her going.
In typical fashion she put on her hard face and joked about it.
‘Listen to this, Mum,’ she giggled one afternoon as she read a poem she’d written down the phone to me.
‘T*ts are big t*ts are small
I aint got no t*ts at all!
Some are pointed, some are round,
At least mine won’t ever touch the ground!
I’ve had implants in and implants out,
What really was the fuss about?
So if you have a little pair
Look after them and don’t despair.
Big ones were a lot of fun
But look at me now…I’ve got none!’
Kerry was told she’d no skin left to have reconstructive work but oddly after going through so much for her boobs, she took it remarkably well and was pleased to be alive.
She still had her playful spirit, too. She had a specially-made mastectomy bra padded and chicken fillets from the hospital which she hung on the back of the bathroom door and would often ask Maddie to ‘go and get mummy’s boobs.’
Maddy loved to play with them, twisting and prodding them and sometimes she’d forget herself do it to me and her big sister Shannon’s boobs too, which really hurt!
But while Madison was now a healthy four-year-old, Kerry was still struggling after her second brush with TB. She was drug-resistant and had a chest cavity. She looked it up on the Internet and read that for patients like her the only hope was a lobectomy to remove the lung. The thought of her going through yet another operation scared me to death but she was convinced it was the only way.
As we waited to hear, Kerry had two lines fitted into her chest for her drugs to be administered.
One day Maddie walked out of the kitchen with two drinking straws poking over the top of her t-shirt. ‘ I’m just like you mummy,’ she beamed as Kerry fell about laughing. Now matter how ill she was, Kerry had never failed to stop making us laugh. Now her and Maddie made the perfect double act.
Finally, she was given the go-ahead. Four weeks after her 40th birthday, Kerry was admitted to Guy’s Hospital and in a gruelling nine-hour op they removed two-thirds of her lung.
Kerry and I spent the evening before her op in hospital doing what we loved best scoffing – chocolate and crisps while lying on her bed watching Poirot.
‘I’ll be alright Mum, won’t I?’ she asked me.
‘Course,’ I bolstered. ‘You always are in the end.’
And back home five days later, she did seem fine. Desperate to get out and about, she borrowed her granddad’s disability scooter and used it to nip down and pick Madison up from school and to proudly watch her play a shepherd in her first nativity play.
She entered the packed hall which was packed and rode straight down the front in prime position – with Maddy grinning from ear to ear.
But then she went downhill. Her medication made it hard for her to eat, and her weight fell to under six stone.
Once we were asked if she was anorexic. As if! Kerry had always been tiny and now the drugs she was on made her feel sick.
Kerry had a phobia of vomit, which just made things worse. But she was determined to get well and agreed to a deeding tube.
Then her wound started to weep. Once again, she was back and forth to the hospital.
‘She’s been through so much.’ I said to her dad, John.
Then one afternoon Shannon went to her Mum’s house to find all the windows and doors open, despite it snowing.
‘Mum?’ she said, concerned when she found her babbling and confused on the settee.
But Kerry didn’t seem to recognise her daughter.
Shannon called 999 and Kerry was taken to Queen Mary’s Hospital.
But within hours she was taken back home because they hadn’t carried out the lobectomy.
‘But she’s too ill to be at home,’ I fumed to John.
The next morning, Darren rang me. Kerry had suffered a substantial bleed in the night and he was worried.
‘Take her back to hospital to get checked out,’ I told him.
He took her to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich where she stayed overnight in A & E until she was taken by ambulance to Guy’s the following afternoon.
Although Kerry was stable there, early the next morning the hospital called Richard to say Kerry had taken a turn for the worst.
‘You get yourself up there and I’ll give them a call,’ I told him.
I took me three attempts to get to speak to someone. And when I finally got through –
‘I’m sorry, Kerry passed away at 7am this morning,’ the nurse said.
The words rang in my ears. I grabbed hold of the kitchen worktop to steady myself.
‘There must be some mistake,’ I said, refusing to believe what I was hearing.
But it was true. I threw the phone down in shock. Kerry had died of internal bleeding caused by vein in her heart giving up under the stress.
It broke my heart to think she was alone when she died.
‘Someone should have been with her,’ I wept to John.
Kerry’s sister Lorraine, 39, was devastated. They’d always been so close.
‘I never realised she was so ill,’ she cried.
But that was Kerry all over. No matter what life threw at her, she just picked herself up and got on with it.
Her memorial service was packed with hundreds of people whose lives Kerry had touched. She was cremated with her chicken fillets and padded bra in the blue and mauve dress Shannon lent her for her 40th birthday night out.
Shannon decided to read her mum’s poem at the service as a warning to others. But you know what? Kerry never once blamed her boobs, not really. Because the years she had them were the happiest, fun years of her life and she wouldn’t regret them for a second.
And so there’s no point thinking what might have been if Kerry had never had implants in the first place, after all, thousands of women have the op with no problems at all.
So no regrets. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But I’d give anything to pick up that phone and hear Kerry’s laugh once more.