Extol December 2019 - January 2020 | Page 40

A LESSON OF LOSS AND GAIN but are willing to listen to me and spend hours instead of minutes. The treatments that I get and the supplements I have to take are expensive, but I feel much better with them than I do without. I try to eat organic and avoid endocrine disruptors. My life is pretty high maintenance just trying to keep myself functional, but I am beyond thankful that I made the decision to have my implants removed. If I would’ve listened to the majority of doctors or only been willing to do things that my insurance policy would cover, I believe I would be in a wheelchair by now. I’ve been able to come off of all of the antidepressants, benzodiazepines and amphetamines, and although I do still struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety from time to time, it is nothing compared to what it was when I had implants in my body. I’ve since learned that the implant manufacturer lied to me when they said they’d never heard of the illnesses I suffered. In fact, tens of thousands of women have filed similar complaints with this particular manufacturer, and tens of thousands of woman with all different brands of implants have reported similar experiences to the FDA. 38 EXTOL : DECEMBER 2019/JANUARY 2020 In the last year, it has even been proven that a particular type of implant that was approved by the FDA was linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. Hundreds of women have testified in Washington and to the FDA, and yet they continue to be largely ignored by the government our health care system. So, we advocate for ourselves. I am now connected to a network of over 50,000 women who have been harmed by breast implants. There have been thousands of lawsuits filed, but most of them are unsuccessful because there is no “proof” and trying to fight Big Pharma is a battle that many of us don’t have the resources or the energy for. The company that manufactured my breast implants is valued at upwards of $150 billion. In 2018 alone they reported spending $3.2 million on lobbying those who could pass important legislation. Despite the community I’ve been thankful to find, I want to make something clear: I personally know less than 10 women who have experienced similar complications with implants, and I probably know more than 100 women who have them. Most seem to tolerate the implants just fine, although they may never consider connecting something like anxiety, auto immune issues or hormones imbalance with their breast implants. But sure enough, every few months I get a Facebook message or an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never met asking for my help because they’ve heard about what happened to me, and they are experiencing it, too. I’ve referred people to doctors, driven two hours to meet a stranger for lunch and talked on the phone for hours with women who live across the country because they need help and no one else will listen. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t give anything to have my health back to the way it was before I decided to get breast implants, but I try to focus on the wisdom I have gained and the personal growth I have experienced because of this situation. I am very aware of my mortality and don’t take my health for granted, and I acknowledge my gratitude for just being able to drive my child to school every morning. I’m grateful for the relationships I have because they are so much more important than the ones I have lost.