Stef’s Journey: Overcoming Breast Implant Illness, Breast Cancer, and Embracing Reconstruction
Stef’s Journey With Breast Implant Illness, Breast Cancer, and Reconstruction
I am a woman who has been living with breast implants since 2000. In 2008, I made the decision to exchange my saline implants for silicone implants, believing they were a better option. Unfortunately, this decision had unforeseen consequences. In 2009, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and I soon began to experience several other issues, such as brain fog, weight gain, dry skin, inflammation, dry eyes, low libido, leaky gut, intolerance to cold, sore and aching joints, and more. All this despite only being 35 at the time. When I began investigating further, I discovered the condition known as Breast Implant Illness; all the symptoms I was experiencing were included in the list. It was then that I knew what I had to do.
The Explant Surgery
I decided to have breast explant surgery in 2020 after doing extensive research. I found a doctor in Florida who I booked to perform the procedure Explant w/ En Bloc, which removes both the implant and the entire capsule. After scheduling the surgery for May 2020, the global pandemic struck, and my surgery was pushed back to December. I’m glad I had the extra time to continue my research. Originally, I planned to use a doctor in Florida to perform an explant with En Bloc. My husband had been encouraging me for a while to also see a doctor here in New York. At around the same time, a friend recommended a plastic surgeon who specialized in breast reconstruction and explant surgery, and I made an appointment with Dr. David Light in Great Neck. I was immediately comforted by his understanding of the procedure and booked the surgery for 10/4/2020.
The Breast Cancer Diagnosis
On 10/20/2020, I went in for a 2-week post-op, relieved that the textured implants that were making me so sick were out and I was recovering. That’s when life threw me a curveball, and I received unexpected news: I had breast cancer. The pathologist found an area of DCIS by accident on my capsule. At first, I couldn’t comprehend what the doctor was saying. I had breast cancer? I couldn’t believe this was happening to me! After the initial shock, I began to act. I scheduled appointments with a radiologist, oncologist, and surgeon, and commenced my path to recovery. Now, I am proud to say that I am on the road to a healthy future.
The Radiation Treatment
I’m an extraordinary woman who faced a life-changing challenge and persevered. After consulting with my Breast Surgeon and Radiologist, it was determined I needed to do 17 rounds of radiation starting in December 2020. I was determined to stay strong, and I faced this challenge with bravery, resilience, and courage. Despite the difficult times, I smiled through it all and looked for the silver linings. Finally, on December 24th, 2020, I hit the gong and celebrated the end of my treatment. It was the best Christmas Eve ever!
The Double Mastectomy and DIEP FLAP Reconstruction
My journey took me on a roller coaster ride for the next two years. Mammograms, sonograms, and MRIs – I was done with that ride. I went back to my doctor, Dr. Light, and decided to talk about a double mastectomy. He was kind enough to take the time to explain all my options, and I was pleased to hear that I didn’t have to get implants. Instead, he told me about a procedure called DIEP FLAP, where fat from my stomach is used to make the breast. At that point, I knew that was the procedure for me. I’d be able to have a soft, natural reconstruction and avoid all of the downsides of an implant.
Surviving and Thriving
I’m a survivor. On 2/2/2023, I had a double mastectomy with DIEP FLAP reconstruction with an incredible team – my plastic surgeon, Dr. David Light from NYBRA Plastic Surgery in Great Neck, and my breast surgeon, Dr. Busch Devereaux, as well as the nurses at Huntington Hospital – who made the experience so positive.
Sharing My Story
The reason I’m sharing my story is because I’m a believer in Breast Implant Illness. I chose to go with my gut and research a doctor who could take out my implant and capsule. I’m hoping that by sharing my story, I can help others who are in a similar situation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at Stephanie@biiinfo.com.
At Learn Look Locate, we are dedicated to sharing real-life experiences from breast cancer survivors and raising awareness about various aspects of the disease, including the impact of breast implant illness. Our goal is to provide a platform where women can learn from each other’s journeys, find support, and make informed decisions about their health. We invite you to explore our Survivor Stories section to read more inspiring stories and join our community.