Jade was betrayed by the man she trusted with her life...
Trust. Not always easy to build with someone you’ve never met.
But a doctor? You trust them immediately, don’t you?
When I went to a private hospital with my mum Karen, now 55, and my dad Brian, 57, in October 2005, we all did.
We instinctively put our faith in Ian Paterson, the doctor I’d been referred to see when I’d found a lump in my left breast the month before.
My GP had been concerned after I felt the grape-sized growth.
As Dad owns his own company, we had private insurance and went to the Spire Parkway Hospital, owned by Spire Healthcare.
‘It’s a fibroid adenoma,’ Mr Paterson said. ‘Not cancerous, but we’ll need to operate as soon as possible to remove it.’
Barely a week later, I was scheduled in for the operation.
Having only just started my A-levels at college, I told tutors and pals I’d be taking time off.
Of course, I was worried, but I was in safe hands.
After the surgery, Mr Paterson had good news… It definitely wasn’t cancer.
‘We removed a golf-ball-sized lump,’ he told me.
My breast was sore, a small scar where they’d done the operation, but nothing brutal.
No need for different underwear or anything like that.
A lucky escape.
And, back at college, I carried on studying Law, English and Drama.
Only, nearly two years later…
Naturally, I went straight back to Mr Paterson.
Another invasive op. But another false alarm.
And again, a third time.
Each time, the fear it could be cancer washed through me. Yet, I was always reassured by how quickly they rushed me through to surgery.
I had four operations in total, between the ages of 16 and 19.
Throughout, I trusted Mr Paterson. Assumed he knew what was best.
With each surgery, my young breasts changed a little more, adding scars, bruises.
I had to skip drama practices to try to keep on top of studies, all the while wondering if my ‘cancer’ would return.
Finally, in March 2008, I started work for a financial advisor.
There were no more lumps, life was going well.
So, I didn’t think anything of it when I got a letter from Spire Healthcare in October 2011.
Probably just a circular…
You have been recalled as a patient…
They were asking everyone Ian Paterson had treated to come in. They’d already called in those who’d had cancer, now it was those who’d had ops but no cancer.
At my recall, I was asked about what procedures I’d had, what the diagnosis had been.
Sitting there, stunned, I learned the fibroid could – should – have been left, monitored, not removed so soon.
Worst of all, the final three of my surgeries weren’t necessary.
He’d butchered me. Operated for no reason.
I felt sick, numb, violated.
Though I didn’t explode with anger, I had to fight for justice.
After, I called a lawyer, started asking question after question.
Would he be prosecuted? What about the other people?
Because there were so many others.
One woman had an op that meant she had to have fluid drained from under one arm.
Another had to take out loans to pay for two operations that Paterson had recommended, but weren’t necessary. She was left unable to breastfeed.
Some women were given what he called ‘cleavage-sparing mastectomies’, where cancerous cells were taken, but flesh left behind.
It meant chances of a relapse within five years doubled.
Paterson had managed to do all this by writing the wrong codes on the forms. Instead of the real diagnosis, he’d put special codes for cancer, to allow him to operate without anyone suspecting a thing.
Horrifyingly, he’d been suspended before, from another hospital.
‘I can’t believe no-one suspected him,’ I sobbed to my parents. ‘That no-one was double-checking his forms? He shouldn’t have been working there, so high up, so well paid and powerful!’
But, hopefully, he’d pay for his barbaric, life-changing acts…
I didn’t go to Nottingham Crown Court, but on 28 April 2017, Paterson, 59, was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent, three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 private patients – nine women and one man.
And they think there were hundreds more.
Apparently, he sobbed on 31 May as he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The judge told Paterson he thought himself ‘untouchable’.
Not any more.
I won’t let what happened define me.
I work in a bank, managing a team of 18, and I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend Nicco, 26.
Showing him my scars for the first time was emotional, but he understood.
I think changes should be made so this kind of thing can be spotted.
Now, I want to look to the future, but I won’t forget.
And with Paterson rotting in jail, I can rebuild my life and learn to trust again.