Having My Breasts Removed Helped Me Show My Daughters How To Be Comfortable in Their Own Skin

I wasn’t prepared for all the compliments I’d receive when I got my breast implants. I had perfect breasts. They were so ideal that I consented to have them on full display on my plastic surgeon’s website. I was proud of my new breasts, and I wanted every fellow young breast cancer survivor to know that they could also have an amazing breast reconstruction. I even joked I’d one day be the “hottest old lady in the nursing home.”

I thought my mastectomy and direct-to-implant surgery would be a one-and-done (for-a-long-time). I swapped out my old breast tissue, which contained multiple, teeny, malignant tumors, for silicone bags—and believed I’d live happily ever after. But the fairytale turned into a nightmare.

From the outside, I looked pretty good. I had the ideal, curvaceous body — you know, the one you see all over Instagram. My breasts wouldn’t sag with age. They were prominent and perfect, filling every bikini top and v-neck tee.

However, I began experiencing strange and seemingly-unrelated symptoms. One morning, I woke up and noticed my feet felt heavy, like they were encased in drying cement. After popping in my contact lenses, I noticed my toes were a gloomy shade of purple-gray. I began experiencing increasing anxiety, yellow-tinted skin, and achy joints and muscles. Suddenly, I was unable to consume certain foods and drinks including strawberries, guacamole, green tea, and shrimp. Though I was always exhausted, my heart felt like it was always racing. At one point, I ended up in the emergency room with a pulmonary embolism.

I brought these concerns to multiple medical professionals, including specialists. I had scans, labs, and exams. Each time, doctors were perplexed. More than one physician suggested my symptoms were all in my head. I grew increasingly depressed and anxious, so much so that I prayed God would let me die in my sleep. I was trapped in my own body.

Thankfully, my breakthrough happened when I did some digging into my symptoms and discovered a social media group dedicated to women with breast implant illness, also known as BII. Reading post after post, I had an “aha” moment. The reason I wasn’t diagnosed with any specific ailment was simple: breast implant illness isn’t recognized as an official medical condition. Yet over 150,000 women in the social media group believed it was real. Many of them posted before (with implants) and after side-by-side pictures, demonstrating the major differences between living in a chronic state of inflammation and healing.

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