Taliyah Cassadine got silicone injections in her body every other week for 10 years, but didn't realize how close they brought her to death until she had them removed and saw doctors gagging during the gruesome procedure (video below).
"It's time for people to stop dying to be beautiful," said Cassadine, according to WXIA.
Cassadine is a transgender woman who started getting the cheap fillers injected into her buttocks, breasts and cheeks in 2004 because she felt she needed to look the way she wanted, but didn't want to pay for costly plastic surgery.
"I always felt like I had to be better in my looks," she explained. "I didn't think I could accomplish my goals if I didn't look the part."
She developed serious health problems over the years, including a fever that broke out almost every day. She nearly lost her left leg, but she kept going back for more injections from Miesha Santiago, her "pump doctor" who is now in prison after one of her patrons died after receiving injections.
"Here I am walking and breathing, not knowing that I have a rotting corpse inside of me," she said, explaining that she got "so used to feeling bad that it became normal."
Cassadine testified against Santiago during her trial and stopped getting the injections. Doctors successfully removed all but 10 percent of the silicone from her body during a procedure that left them gagging and having to leave the room as they pulled out what looked like black tar from her body.
It went in as a clear, gel-like substance.
Cassadine said silicone injections have become popular and easy to find around Atlanta, and she hopes law enforcement and campaigns raising awareness can stop people from getting them so frequently. She said she calls police whenever she learns about illegal "pump doctors," but whenever one business is shut down, another pops up in its place.
But she won't stop trying.
A close friend and mentor of hers passed away earlier in March from the procedures.
"If she only knew there were people who thought she was perfect," Cassadine said. "She was perfect to me."
The anti-silicone injection activist has started a Facebook page to shine light on the "ugly side" of the dangerous practice, and she has also started a campaign to fundraise for black transwomen to help them transition without risking their lives.
"Many people get silicone injections because of lack of resources and financial aid," Cassadine explains on her Facebook page. "My fundraiser was created to help those in need so we can all transition the right way and the healthy way. You get your blessings from being a blessing to others."