“I Can’t Move On: The Frustration of Waiting Three Years for Implant Removal after Breast Cancer”

The waiting lists for specialties and some surgical interventions in Castilla-La Mancha have already become an electoral controversy. Unions, Partido Popular, Podemos, Izquierda Unida and the regional government itself have starred in a day basically focused on some denouncing the waits and others denying them. One of the cases that puts a face to this problem is that of Montse, who has been waiting for three years in Toledo for her breast implants to be removed after having suffered breast cancer and a double mastectomy.

There are 2,000 more patients on waiting lists for operations and diagnosis in Castilla-La Mancha


Montse García-Rojas lives in the Toledo town of Polán and in April 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was diagnosed with three tumors on her breast. As there were no operating rooms available, she received chemotherapy for six months and in December of that same year they underwent a mastectomy of both breasts. She decided to remove both breasts for prevention.

Since then, she has been wearing so-called breast “expanders”, implants that gradually stretch the skin after surgery and through which fluid is injected under the breast muscle. This prepares the tissue for breast reconstruction. The protocols recommend that these implants take a maximum of one year, but Montse is still on the waiting list. Her skin is already prepared but the surgeon tells her that “there are no operating rooms.”

After wearing the expanders for so long, he suffers psychological sequelae. She says that a colleague of hers had to be operated on again for carrying the implants for more than three years and now she is afraid. “It hurts when I turn around in bed, any blow hurts, I’m afraid to do almost anything, I’m afraid of falling, it’s a constant nuisance. And besides, I don’t want anyone to see me, the clothes don’t fit me well and in summer it’s horrible, ”she laments.

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He has made several claims at the Toledo University Hospital and they always answer him in the same way: “They tell me that they are sorry for the inconvenience, but that there are no operating rooms and that they will operate on me when I am on the waiting list. They don’t even give me an approximation, a better treatment, so that I can be calmer. So I can not make plans or be calm. I need to turn the page and I can’t. I can’t close this chapter.”

One complaint “among many”

Montse is part of APACAMA, the first Association for the Prevention and Care of Women Affected by Breast Cancer in the province of Toledo. One of the patients who are part of the group, Inés Manzanares, tells us that Montse’s complaint is “one of many” of the women affected. All of them have already registered several complaints both to the Ministry of Health and to the University Hospital of Toledo, in Patient Care and in the Breast Unit.

Montse’s testimony comes in the middle of a political debate about the possible “makeup” on the waiting lists that has been increasing in recent weeks. In this regard, United We Can has registered in the Congress of Deputies a question addressed to the Ministry of Health about the new management of waiting lists in Castilla-La Mancha. Specifically, they ask to know if the High Health Inspectorate will take measures “in relation to finding out if Castilian-La Mancha patients are not being cited when the appointment for external consultation cannot be less than 90 days.” This has been registered by the deputy of United We Can in Congress and spokesperson for Health, Rosa Medel, and the candidate of the formation in Castilla-La Mancha, José Luis García-Gascón.

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“What are the data sent by the Ministry of Health of Castilla-La Mancha to the Ministry of Health in the last three years regarding the number of patients seen in scheduled and non-urgent health consultations by specialists, as well as the times of Waiting for appointment attention?”, reads one of the questions from United We Can.


Likewise, they ask Health to know, “if the seriousness of the reported problem is confirmed, what measures the Government intends to adopt to protect the right to health of the Castilian-Manchegan citizenship.” Gascón, who echoes the complaint by the Solidarity Obrera union, has assured that “it could be one of the biggest scandals of democracy”, if confirmed.

The regional government has denied the biggest and has stuck out its chest assuring that Castilla-La Mancha is the community that has reduced the waiting lists the most, for which it has asked United We Can “not get hooked on the wheel” of the ‘popular’ candidate ‘, Paco Núñez, “to try to weaken and wear down a government that is strengthening the public health system.”

According to the Minister of Health, Jesús Fernández Sanz, the management of the waiting lists is “more than audited by the Ministry of Health”, since it supervises them every month, then every six months and then annually. He has affirmed that from 2022 to 2021 the region has registered 21,500 more surgical hours, the activity in consultations has increased by 32% and Castilla-La Mancha is the only autonomous region that has lowered the number and waiting time in the last six months. “But they just think we’re cheating. You have to have more respect ”, he remarked.

“What we do is register 100% of the people who come to demand a consultation or a diagnostic test and allocate a waiting time as little as possible. We have automated this system in consultations and this has been twisted in such a way that they speak of manipulation ”, denounced Fernández Sanz.

“Respond to a hoax”

For her part, the spokeswoman for the Board, Blanca Fernández, has affirmed that the protests over the supposed “make-up” of the waiting lists “respond to a hoax”. “It is false that we are manipulating nothing here because there is a system in which you are given an appointment directly if you ask for it, if you can be given within three months. If not, you enter a mailbox in which you will be summoned within three months and an answer will be given to all the people who are in this situation ”. This is an essay that the regional government is preparing so that “in the future no one has to wait more than three”. “Under no circumstances are the waiting lists and the people who enter that mailbox falsified, they are computerized and the data is published,” she stated.

The circumstance arises that the Castilian-Manchego Government has presented this Wednesday the Plan for the Humanization of Health Care, with a horizon of 2025, and that it is a “political priority” according to the Minister of Health. One of its objectives is to promote “person-centred care”, as well as to effectively and systematically develop the rights and duties of patients and health professionals.


For Fernández Sanz, all this means “doing things with empathy”. “We are talking about very basic concepts such as respect, active listening, accompaniment, the socio-sanitary space, treating loneliness and that everything that is around a person is much more than the disease”, he explained.

He has also detailed that the main benefits of working in favor of humanizing health care are “reducing the levels of anguish and stress caused by a disease” or increasing confidence in the health system. In short, to guarantee “dignity and respect for the rights of people to privacy and confidentiality and where personal treatment is friendly, respectful and close”.

All area managements have a person in charge of Humanization of Health Care, in addition to the Management of Emergencies, Emergencies and Medical Transportation (GUETS) and the Primary Care Management of Toledo.

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