My Mystery Illness. I was Silently Suffering from the Effects of Breast Implants.

My Mystery Illness. I was Silently Suffering from the Effects of Breast Implants.

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{This is incredibly embarrassing to share, but if I can help even ONE person who is suffering silently, who has no idea that the foreign objects inside their body are making them sick, then the fear I feel in sharing will be worth it in the end. }

I don’t think I would have ever told a soul about the fact that when I was 21… I got breast implants. 

Nobody besides my family and my soon-to-be husband knew. I never told another person. Always desiring to look ever-more feminine according to the world’s standards of beauty, I had worked as a waitress for several years to make enough money to buy myself a larger chest. It was extremely trendy, and I innocently fell for that trap, oblivious to any harm they could do. And for 14 years, I kept this huge secret. I’m a modest Christian woman, and I didn’t flaunt them, I didn’t wear low-cut tops, and eventually, I nearly completely forgot they were there.

But they were there. And I think if I had let them stay, they would have killed me.

It was in June of 2015 that I woke up one morning with weird bumps covering both my legs and the undersides of my arms. I’d gone to the pool the day before, so I thought the chlorine had irritated my skin. But in 24 hours, the bumps had erupted into a terrifying rash that itched worse than anything I’d ever experienced in my life. I had never had skin problems before — I’d never had acne, I’d never had any form of eczema, no dermatitis, I’d never had poison ivy or contact rash (and I’d grown up barefoot on a farm), I’d never had hives, NEVER, NOTHING. This was BIZARRE. 

I went to a doctor and he prescribed antibiotics and a steroid. Normally, I would’ve turned these down, but I was desperate and willing to try anything. They didn’t work. So I went to the ER, where I got amazed slack-jawed stares from doctors, and I was prescribed more antibiotics. I went to a dermatologist and they prescribed more steroids. The rash raged on for a full month. It was now spreading to my neck, trunk, and had reached my face. I was scratching so badly in my sleep that a deep purple bruise had formed covering almost my entire thigh. My skin everywhere was hot to the touch. I had to wear my hair up so it didn’t touch my burning neck, and I had to wear pants every day so I couldn’t scratch. I couldn’t bear to walk outside in the summer heat. 

And then by mid-July, with no changes to my diet or environment, the rash vanished. 

I was now fearful of life. What chemical had done this to me, and how could I know what to avoid? I’d been meaning to make ALL of my beauty supplies completely toxin-free, and I bit the bullet and swapped out EVERYTHING. I got our home tested for mold and radon — no answers. I knew there was something more that had caused the hellish rash…but what?

In December of that year, I began getting dizzy every day. Then came feelings like I was being strangled — I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Was this vertigo? Was I having daily panic attacks? Was my childhood asthma coming back? I kept it all to myself, silently suffering.

In January, the scary rash had crept back in, first in little spots on my legs, then my arms, then my chest and neck. "NO! Not again!” I internally screamed with every new bump that appeared. 

One evening that month, we were on our way to do some mall shopping for my birthday, and I felt like I was blacking out — I couldn’t see anything. Jeff pulled the car over, and I told him I may pass out and he needed to be ready to dial 911. Jeff prayed over me, and I told my kids how much I loved them. I thought this may be my end. We went to the nearest ER and I was admitted for symptoms of a stroke

There, I had an EKG, an MRI, several other tests all night long, was given drugs of many kinds, and left with a diagnosis of suspected TIA (mini stroke). I wasn’t convinced, though, and I was STILL dizzy.

I went to a holistic doctor, who ran nearly every blood test on the planet — vials and vials and vials of blood were drawn. I was tested for thyroid problems, for Lyme, for every nutrient, for cortisol levels, for candida and mold antibodies, for food sensitivities, I was tested for literally every single thing they could think to test for. The results showed that I was sensitive to eggs and gluten, and my vitamin B12 and vitamin D were low, but nothing alarming. On paper, I was completely “normal." I knew my symptoms weren’t food related. There was something much bigger going on. Basically, I left the doctor poorer and still physically miserable, without an answer. 

I began getting chiropractic care, got several massages, started taking better care of myself, avoiding the foods I was sensitive to, drinking more water. Jeff and I went on a trip to Mexico, thinking maybe I needed relaxation — my life as a mom of three kids under six was pretty exhausting and we never got date nights. When we returned home, I was SHOCKED to learn I was pregnant

The pregnancy was harder than my others had been, with the rash continuing off and on. I ate nearly *perfectly*, supplemented well, paying close attention to every minute detail of my health. Wesley was born naturally at home, a whopping 10.5 pounds, and I praised God that he was spared from whatever was causing my own body so much discomfort. 

But when he was out, my symptoms revved up: now I had new seasonal allergies, I couldn’t breathe around mold or on rainy days, I had new food sensitivities (I couldn’t tolerate apples or peaches or raw tomatoes at all), and I had this feeling that there was a ball in my throat that I couldn’t swallow down. The swollen mass in my neck — lymph node?— was so big, I had to turn my head to the right in order to swallow food. I felt like I constantly needed to clear my throat. My tongue was swollen and had teeth marks in it all the time, even though I was well-hydrated — so weird! I had a splitting headache for 30 days straight, and it was making me always nauseated. And another new symptom popped up. If I walked through a cold grocery store, my fingers would go completely numb, and turn white, then stay that way for an hour or more. Bizarre and scary, especially in summertime.

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The all-over rash was worse, despite my *perfect* organic low-histamine diet. I started worrying aloud to Jeff that I felt like I was dying. It didn’t seem like something in my environment triggering this — something INSIDE me was poisoning me. 

I got my genes tested, and I learned that I had the GST polymorphism, which makes it difficult for my body to detoxify. But what was my exposure that I needed to detoxify from? Y’all, I was losing it. How could I continue life constantly itchy, rashy, dizzy, and struggling for air? How could I mother my kids while constantly thinking about these torturous symptoms? I had the cleanest lifestyle of ANYONE I knew, and it seemed to make no difference for me at all.

Every spare moment, I was researching, mulling over all the possibilities. Was I over-vaccinated? I *had* gotten a TDaP two years in a row (2009 and 2010), which is quite the wallop of aluminum. And I knew the research pointed to injected aluminum being the primary cause of allergies and eczema. I had a niggling feeling I was dealing with metal toxicity. I wrote my Allergies blog post last year, having read HEAVILY about aluminum causing skin and body allergies, thinking a metal had triggered my own issues. I had become, what it seemed like, allergic to life itself. Or, I was allergic TO myself.

Anything that barely grazed my skin caused hives. If my skirt brushed my leg, there’d be hives. If I picked a weed in the garden and the leaf touched my wrist, I’d get hives there. The side of my face that was touching the pillow as I slept at night would get hives. I was just a big ball of inflammation.

Or was this cancer? How would someone whose lifestyle was so clean have developed cancer? Was this mast cell activation syndrome? If so, WHY were my mast cells freaking out NOW? And why did my body not respond to an anti-inflammatory diet? Or any diet? Or fasting? Or any kind of detox program that I’d tried? I hadn’t drank alcohol in years, and I avoided sugar like the plague!

By early summer of last year (2018), I noticed that my hair had begun to fall out. Now, everyone who knows me knows my hair is my “thing” and it has been since I was a little girl. I never leave the house without my thick, quick-growing, long locks curled or braided or waved or something — it matters to me. By the time I had noticed that it was thinning in front, I started noticing it falling out on the floor as I walked around the house, filling up the whole brush when I brushed it, hundreds of strands coming out by the root. This is when true panic set in. I urgently needed an answer from God — I was literally falling apart. 

With my left eye perpetually twitching (another crazy symptom) and my gut in perpetual discomfort (another frustrating symptom), I opened up my “Vaccines and Autoimmunity” textbook, looking for answers. I had spent $100 on this huge complicated book, just knowing it held some wisdom for my situation. I felt like I had developed an autoimmune disease, though I wasn’t sure what it was. I flipped to the second half of the textbook, the part I hadn’t read yet. Low and behold, it said in blaring bold letters, 

“Silicone and Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants.”

My eyes darted back and forth between alarming words all over the pages:

“foreign body reaction” and “anti silicone antibodies” — uh oh. 

“platinum, a catalyst used in silicone polymerization” — hold on, a metal is used to make silicone?!

“autoantibodies and implants suggests an adjuvant action of silicone” — oh no. Silicone itself can be an adjuvant?! 

“skin abnormalities…hair loss…headaches” — Oh my gosh. It’s my implants. 

“An extensive review of the literature published in 1998 confirms the data showing that silicone triggers the immune system” — Dear, Lord. They’ve known this since 1998?!

“Siliconosis is a hyperactive immune response induced by silicone exposure, which leads to chronic inflammation…” — I am going to need to get them out. NOW.

I had already told Jeff that something was very wrong with me, though I had tried for three years not to complain or make a big deal out of my constant hives/rash/itching and my other odd symptoms. I didn’t want anyone to think I was defective or sickly, especially not my husband. I didn’t want him to notice my hair falling out. I didn’t want him to see me as anything less than vibrant. But the time had arrived. I needed to make him aware of how bad this had been for me. This had been a minute-by-minute struggle, and I’d mostly kept it to myself. And I needed to tell him the cause…and the remedy.

Around this time, feeling just sick over how I could explain all this to Jeff, someone on an Instagram story shared about a large group of women on Facebook that had come together to heal from something they called “Breast Implant Illness.” I very quickly joined.

When I entered this group, there were around 50,000 women; now there are over 70,000. And their symptoms were JUST LIKE MINE. Literally THOUSANDS of posts with photos of persistent hives and rashes (unrelated to food/allergies), thousands of cases of severe dizziness, tens of thousands of women whose hair was falling out in clumps. Their fingers turned white in the cold, just like mine (a condition I learned was called Raynaud’s phenomenon, and is highly associated with breast implants). They were having sudden new food allergies. They were having infertility and recurrent miscarriages. They were dealing with chronic Lyme and Epstein Barr, and severe brain fog. They were being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases like Scleroderma, Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia. Some had been diagnosed with a cancer called BIA-ALCL Lymphoma—Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.

Here’s a list of common breast implant symptoms that I got from the group’s founder, Nicole Daruda’s, website.

The symptoms in bold are the ones I was dealing with.

The symptoms in bold are the ones I was dealing with.

With my heart RACING, whole body sweating, I read through story after story. These women, who had been deathly ill, chronically suffering, were getting better after they took out these implants. Post after post after post was tagged, “The Heal is Real.” Photo after photo after photo showed transformations from bald spots to thick hair, puffy red faces to bright clear ones, skin on legs with open sores that wouldn’t heal to skin that was soft and silky. I wanted those photos to be ME. And I was terrified of the possibility of the cancer BIA-ALCL if I kept the implants inside me. 

I also hated the idea of losing my figure, looking less curvy, no longer fitting all my pretty clothes that I’d been collecting for years. I knew that there was always the possibility that when the surgeon cut out the capsule (it’s like scar tissue — read more below) around the implant that it could be so intertwined with my own tissue, that I could be left with nothing. Could I handle having nothing? 

And I had really liked how I looked with implants. As an artist and designer, I appreciate balance and beauty. I see why the hourglass figure is more visually pleasing, as there is balance and proportion. The hourglass figure signals fertility because obvious noticeable breasts point to an ability to breastfeed, and wider hips mean there's room to grow a big sturdy baby. I think that standard of bodily beauty is timeless…which made the idea of getting my implants removed all the more depressing.

More hair falling out and more symptoms by the day, the frivolity of attaining this elusive “perfect” body type seemed more and more stupid to me. I just wanted to be healthy. 

One day in late summer, we were walking out the door to go grocery shopping, the kids all buckled in the van, and I worked up the courage and, with eyes full of tears, blurted out to Jeff that I was sick, maybe with an autoimmune disease, maybe dying, being poisoned by these toxic plastic bags in my chest, and that though I would look smaller afterward, and though it was going to cost a significant amount from our savings, that I needed to EXPLANT my IMPLANTS, and I’d already found a surgeon who would do it. Whew.  Said it.

He stared at me and blinked a few times. He rarely sees me cry. And then, he hugged me, and said, “I will do anything it takes to get you healthy. Let’s do this as soon as possible. I just want the real Heather, nothing extra. I love you so much.” 

And a wave of relief washed over me. He didn’t doubt that what I was saying was true. He didn’t care if I would look smaller after the removal. He loved the all-natural me, the me he fell in love with when we were only 17.

Me at 17. A picture of perfect HEALTH and innocence.

Me at 17. A picture of perfect HEALTH and innocence.

Immediately, I made an appointment with the surgeon, and he had openings for surgery in two weeks. I took the soonest one. At this point, I felt like I had ticking time bombs of toxic sludge within me, and I couldn’t get them out fast enough. I suddenly felt like this was an emergency! I felt half-ready to cut them out of my body myself if I couldn’t get someone else to do it!

And after 14 years slowly poisoning me, the plastic prosthetic breasts were cut out.

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What was happening to me? Putting the puzzle together…

This is the important part, so don’t stop reading now!!! And if you don’t have implants or any foreign object (including knee or shoulder replacement, IUD birth control, mesh repair, surgical screws, chin/butt implant, injected facial silicone, etc) in yourself, somebody you know does, so listen carefully so you can help them. Then watch The Bleeding Edge documentary on Netflix to see more about what implanted objects do to the human body.

Have you ever heard of anti-rejection drugs that people who get an organ transplant have to take so their bodies don’t attack the foreign object placed inside them? People with breast implants don’t take any anti-rejection drug, but we assume our bodies are fine with the silicone. Because, we are taught that silicone is inert, harmless, non-reactive. Both assumptions are WRONG.

From the moment a foreign object is placed inside you, your body violently attacks it. It’s an all-out WAR.

With a splinter, the body sends pus and inflammation and redness to form all around it, trying to move the splinter OUT or break it down! Praise God for that mechanism — it keeps us alive!

But with an implant, the foreign object is too large to be swallowed up by macrophages, so the body builds a barrier wall all around the implant, called a capsule. This scar-like tissue is your body trying to protect you from this foreign object, while your body continues to wage war on it underneath.

Here are my capsules that the surgeon removed:

Apparently, one side bled significantly more than the other, hence the color difference. These capsules adhere to your rib cage, and the surgeon has to scrape them off. A gory process.

Apparently, one side bled significantly more than the other, hence the color difference. These capsules adhere to your rib cage, and the surgeon has to scrape them off. A gory process.

Beneath the capsule, the immune system sends chemicals to break down that implant. And it begins breaking down IMMEDIATELY, the moment it is placed within you. The implant is literally dissolving. Because the body is hot, the plastic degrades quickly. Whether your implants are Silicone-filled or Saline-filled, the shell itself on both is toxic-chemical-filled silicone, and these chemicals begin off-gassing within you. Let me repeat, it doesn’t matter what the implant is filled with, because the SHELL is toxic silicone.

Toxins

Here are a list of ingredients in a breast implant shell:

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As this shell dissolves, pieces of silicone and its contaminants get carried and distributed throughout the body, filling up the lymph nodes, clogging the liver.

These toxins are a constant source of poison to your entire body: endocrine disrupters, messing with your body’s delicate hormone balance; they’re carcinogens, making you at perpetual risk of cancer; they’re inflammatory; they effect the function of your genes.

Autoimmunity

The immune system becomes so overwhelmed in the fight against these large toxic objects implanted dangerously close to vital organs — like your heart and thyroid gland — it begins attacking your own body instead. This is called Autoimmunity Induced by Adjuvants — the concept I stumbled upon in my “Vaccines and Autoimmunity” textbook. Just like aluminum in vaccines causing an overstimulation of the immune system leading to its inflammation (like asthma, anaphylactic allergies, eczema, and brain inflammation…like autism), the silicone implants cause the immune system to malfunction. Instead of attacking the foreign material, it amps up its fight against YOU.

Autoimmune symptoms from implants have been known within the industry since the very first breast implantations in the 1960s. Only now has more evidence begun to be published. In both September and October of 2018, two large studies showed an increased risk of autoimmune diseases in women with breast implants.

Skin and connective tissue diseases are extremely common among women with breast implants, and this is likely from anti-COLLAGEN antibodies that the body forms in this autoimmune state. And an equally common occurrence after these women get their implants removed: reverse aging, wrinkles vanishing, hair returning!

Broken Immune System

AND, the immune system has become so focused on attacking this foreign invader, its other duties get neglected. The immune system “breaks.” No longer can it fight off infections. Old viruses that have been kept dormant for years are then allowed to run house. New pathogens are no longer being fought off. Lyme, Epstein Barr, Fungi, Molds, Parasites, you name it, all start multiplying and taking over. Symptoms like tiredness and brain fog are a direct result of these infections.

Mold

For people with saline-filled implants like I had, the valve can be a source of bacteria/mold that hide in the crevices. And as the shell begins its dissolving process, the saline inside slowly travels through the microscopic holes, and other liquids in the body start moving inside the implant — back and forth. The implant doesn’t need to be torn or leaking for the liquid inside to find its way out! Fungi have a particular affinity for dark, warm, moist places, and inside an implant is their ideal home. A saline implant is like a gigantic petri dish. A rotting mass sitting inside your chest.

(After several months of my implants being out of me, the liquid inside had almost completely evaporated — even though they’ve never been opened. The silicone shell allowed the liquid to travel through it! The surgeons tell you when you get them implanted that they’re impermeable, but this is flat-out untrue.)

Infections

The infections that have begun taking over (because the immune system is overwhelmed by the implants) then move throughout the body. They begin to take over your gut, so that digestion becomes impaired and leaky. Without a functioning digestive system, you develop major nutritional deficiencies, even when you eat a great diet. These toxic pathogens create bio-toxins that further burdens your already toxin-filled body. Because gut microbes influence brain regulation like serotonin, your neurological system begins malfunctioning.

This is why no matter what diet I did, I couldn’t fully heal my gut. When there is toxicity upstream, the gut downstream will continue to flow toxic. Whether it’s silicone toxicity from implants, aluminum toxicity from a vaccine, or cobalt toxicity from a shoulder replacement, the toxicity will prevent the body from being able to heal. The toxin MUST BE REMOVED.

Inflammation

Between the toxicity, autoimmunity, infections, and leaky gut, our entire bodies are inflamed. No part is protected from the destruction that begins taking place. Skin, hair, nerves, brain, digestion, reproduction, hormones, temperature regulation, lungs and breathing, heart and circulation — it all begins to go. This is why the cancer associated with breast implants is an IMMUNE SYSTEM cancer, not a breast cancer. The immune system waves the white flag, screaming, “I quit!”

It’s a matter of When

Nobody who gets implants will be protected from the damage they do to the body. It’s not a matter of “if;” it’s a matter of “when.” It’s an enormous burden for every system of the body. For some with genetic susceptibility (genes associated with autoimmunity and over-sensitivity like HLA B27, HLA DR52 and HLA DR53), symptoms may even show up in the first year after implantation. For those with the MTHFR gene polymorphism, who have a difficult time detoxifying and clearing the poisons coming from the implants, symptoms may show sooner than others.

I didn’t get noticeable symptoms until I’d had the implants in for 11 years. Whether because of genetics or because of my very clean diet and lifestyle, my own immune system was able to keep the bucket of toxic inflammation at bay. Until it just couldn’t do it anymore. And the floodgates were opened and the disease processes made themselves KNOWN.

the truth

Symptoms or no obvious symptoms, breast implantation is a mutilation of the body. It is damage and injury and pollution to the human system. It’s a blatant disregard for God’s design.

Our healthy bodies don’t need surgical edits. If an aesthetic change can’t be made with food, exercise and rest, it likely shouldn’t be done. Nobody’s cutting anything into me ever again, unless needed to save me from imminent death.

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And now you know.

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Part 2: Surgery, Healing, and Detox coming soon!

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Choosing Servant Motherhood: Why I am embracing this ministry

Choosing Servant Motherhood: Why I am embracing this ministry