Warning: This article contains a graphic image.
A British woman says she is still recovering but happy to be alive after a flesh-eating bacteria infected her left breast and nearly killed her last year.
Now 31-year-old Lucy Secular of Shinfield — a town near Reading — wants to spread awareness about dangerous skin infections so others don’t put off treatment as she did, according to a recent story from Get Reading.
Secular’s ordeal began on Aug. 12, 2014, when she noticed a small scratch on her left breast. She said she thought nothing of it and went about her daily routine. But she reportedly woke up the next morning violently ill.
She initially thought she had a bad case of food poisoning but also noticed pain in her left breast. She started having cold and hot sweats and her temperature was rising. By that evening there was an ulcer developing on her breast.
The pain, the mother of one said, grew to be “a thousand times worse than childbirth."
“It felt like I was being eaten alive from the inside out,” she told Get Reading.
Secular called her mom that night, asking for help. By then her breast was twice its normal size. After arriving at Secular’s home, her mother immediately placed an emergency call.
“The ambulance man took my blood pressure with shock in his eyes as it was so dangerously low — my body was in toxic shock – and because of the look of my breast,” Secular said. “His words were ‘I haven't got a clue what’s happening to you but we need to get you to Royal Berkshire Hospital now.’”
There she was diagnosed as having necrotizing fasciitis, a condition described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “a serious bacterial skin infection that spreads quickly and kills the body's soft tissue.”
“Commonly called a ‘flesh-eating infection’ by the media, this rare disease can be caused by more than one type of bacteria,” the CDC website reads.
“Accurate diagnosis, prompt treatment with antibiotics through a vein, and surgery are important to stopping this infection that can become life-threatening in a very short amount of time,” the organization warns.
And prompt treatment was exactly what Secular got, once she arrived at the hospital.
“I was very fortunate to have the doctor I did, as unfortunately a patient of his had passed the previous November from the disease,” she said. “He knew straight away what he was dealing with.
“I was told that I was lucky I’d called my mum when I had as if I hadn’t I would have been dead by the morning."
Secular underwent surgery and had 20 percent of her breast tissue removed, along with all of the skin covering her breast. She has since undergone skin-graft operations, using skin from her thigh, and has reconstructive surgeries scheduled.
Having survived, but still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder from the ordeal, Secular said she wants others to know how dangerous the condition is.
“I was a confident woman before and if I don’t do this I feel I will be letting myself down as well as the person who lost their life, so I’m telling my story and showing my scars to raise as much awareness as I can,” Secular added.
Photo Credit: Get Reading