A breast cancer patient has been left with one boob two sizes bigger than the other – because the NHS refused to fund surgery to make them match.
Mum-of-two Gina Truman, 53, says she has breasts of different sizes because of ‘postcode lottery’ budget cuts.
Gina, of Yeovil, Somerset, was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and underwent gruelling chemotherapy.
But the deadly disease returned and in 2013 the former restaurant worker had her right breast removed to get rid of the tumour.
Last month she had a new breast reconstructed and she had been promised follow-up surgery to reduce and lift the other one, so her bust would be even.
But cuts mean the NHS in her area is now refusing to fund the op.
Somerset Clinical Commissioning group said breast cancer patients can no longer “expect” to have cosmetic surgery after treatment.
It means Gina’s new right boob is a perky size B while her healthy left boob remains a size D – and private surgery to put it right would set her back around £5,000.
To add insult to injury, had she been living just six miles away in Dorset she would be able to have the procedure which is still offered there and elsewhere in the UK.
Devastated Gina said: “I just feel so down and depressed about the way my body has been left.
“Before I was diagnosed, I was totally happy with my boobs but I don’t feel like a normal woman any more because my chest is so imbalanced.
“I look at other women now and I think, ‘God, doesn’t she look fantastic. I’m never going to look like that.’
“It really upsets me and makes me angry because I have never been a jealous person before, but I just want to wake up and feel normal again.
“People might look at the pictures and say, ‘Why is she still fighting? If she put a bra on she would look fine,’ but it really gets to me down.
“There is no way I could undress in front of a partner because I feel so abnormal.
“I look at swimming costumes and think, ‘That’s gorgeous.’ I look at them in shops and start crying and have to walk away.
“I just want to be able to go into a shop and buy a pink bra and try it on and be happy. I want to look like a woman again.
“If they gave the go ahead for this procedure it would complete my journey.”
The grandmother-of-three says medics in Southport, where she used to live, removed her unhealthy breast in 2013.
They promised her that after she had the op, her skin would be stretched using an expander and an implant later inserted to give her a new boob.
As the skin can only be stretched a certain amount, the new breast would be smaller and her healthy one would be lifted and reduced to match.
She moved to Somerset in 2015 and was also told by surgeons there confirmed that she would still be able to have surgery on her healthy breast.
But in December last year, Gina was given the devastating news that funding for the final, ‘cosmetic’ stage of the procedure had been slashed.
Last month, she had the implant inserted and a new nipple created.
She is now cancer-free and relieved that her battle against the disease is over, but said she will never feel “normal” until her breasts match.
Speaking before having the latest bit of surgery, Gina described the situation as a “pathetic, stupid and disgusting postcode lottery”.
She added: “I think it’s disgusting. They sit behind their desks and say, ‘We sympathise,’ but they don’t have a clue.
“They don’t know unless they’ve been there. They can get in the bath without looking at themselves in the mirror and feeling disgusting.
“Some people don’t have the fight to come forward about it. I’m doing this for those people as well as myself.
“The surgeons aren’t happy either. They feel as though they have let their patients down.”
Gina’s breast nurse at Yeovil District Hospital supported her in her attempts to get the CCG to change its mind – but to no avail.
A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are aware that this patient’s application to an individual funding request panel, which was backed by Yeovil Hospital clinicians, has not been successful.
“We are in close contact with Ms Truman and will ensure she is provided with the support required to appeal this decision, if this is clinically appropriate.”
Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “In July 2016 Somerset CCG reviewed its policy on providing the breast surgery treatment known as ‘breast asymmetry’.
“A clinical judgement was made at that time that women who had surgery for breast cancer should no longer expect to have cosmetic surgery routinely funded on their healthy breast in order to better match the size and shape of both breasts.
“Requests for funding of such surgery will be considered, but only as an ‘exception’ and on a patient-by-patient basis.”
They added that the panel might reconsider the funding decision if Gina launches an appeal and “new or additional information” is provided for consideration.
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