Terri Diaz – BII Warrior
Hear from women who have questions about whether to explant and women who are recovering from breast explantation and how they are managing their physical and mental healing. We will also hear from those who are championing the movement to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Hi, my name is Terri Diaz, here is my BII story. I got my breast implants in 2006. Even though I started to experience symptoms right away, I did not associate them with my implants. I just attributed them to becoming older and the pressures of having just started a business. As most busy women do, I just disregarded the symptoms.
But four years after getting my implants, my symptoms became so severe, I could no longer ignore them. I became extremely ill. I developed food allergies. I could not digest food. I experienced debilitating pain and fatigue. I developed migraines daily. I suffered from dizzy spells. You name it, I had it. I had over 32 symptoms, and 10 diagnosed auto-immune illnesses. I felt as if my whole body was falling apart!
Still, the doctors I consulted with or myself never considered it could be my breast implants that were causing these problems.
Ten years after receiving my implants – with six of those years being absolute misery – I was bedridden. I felt as if I’d been exposed to some sort of poison that was slowly killing me…and it turns out I was! I felt like I was dying. You know when you have the flu and can barely get up and all you want to do is lay on the couch? That was me. It was a daily chore just to survive. Then I had an “aha moment” when a friend of mine suggested my implants might be to blame.
I said, “You know, what if it IS my implants? I will never let another woman suffer as I did. I will speak out loudly to raise awareness to prevent other women from suffering so long as I did.”
And, as we all know, my breast implants turned out to be the cause of all my symptoms. I can say that with confidence because after I had them removed, my body felt transformed. I am not exaggerating; for example, before I had my breast implants removed, I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs in my house. If I wanted to go upstairs to my bedroom, it took me 20-25 minutes to climb the stairs. It was awful. It’s really hard to explain if you’ve never experienced something like that, but I was so fatigued and lethargic, it took every ounce of energy I had. I felt like I was slowly dying.
It was probably less than a week after having my explant surgery that I literally climbed up the stairs in two minutes. That was it. That was my indication that my body had been fighting the implants for 10 long years and just wanted them out.
So that’s kind of what led me on my journey. While I was still really, really sick I was part of some Facebook support groups. I decided to start the Florida support group because there was already a national support group and the leader of that group wanted to create more local support groups so that women could find someone locally they could talk to or ask for help. I jumped right on it because I was already bedridden and had plenty of time to do it.
Because I was a part of this amazing community of women, when the FDA held the first closed meeting about breast implant illness, I was one of 20 women who was chosen to tell my story and give my recommendations about the reforms that are needed. It was an incredible experience to be a part of this open meeting where we could talk freely with the FDA and express our concerns. I’m happy to say that since then, we’ve seen some major reform and with all the awareness, the word is getting out.
Our trip to Washington catapulted the BII movement. My opportunity to speak there, along with some of the other women I’d met through social media, was a tremendous help in raising awareness. And it’s the connection of women via social media, who continue to share their stories that will keep our movement growing. Through modern technology, we are speaking our truths. Because of the sheer volume of women saying, “No more,” we can affect a positive change. We know it was our implants causing all these terrible symptoms. It happened before in the 90s and the breast implant materials are being made exactly the same as back then, all implants are made with a silicone shell, whether they are filled with silicone or saline. As we are becoming more aware and there is more science backing us up, there is more information coming out, for example, it is known that biocell textured breast implants have been associated with causing BIA-ALCL, which essentially is man-made cancer. That’s why we’re all standing together and putting pressure on the FDA and legislators by lobbying in Washington. It’s not just one or two women; it’s many women speaking in a unified voice.
Yet we know the only way to strengthen and support our movement is by all women who have suffered from breast implant illness to join with us. The best way to do it is by visiting the website MedWatch, where they can report their symptoms, the type of implants, and share their history with their implants. Now that the FDA has fixed the reporting system, it will show the legislators at the FDA the sheer volume of people who have been kind of hidden and lost in the system. Implants are the number one reported device due to ruptures; that is what they are most known for. However, they are NOT known for causing so many health problems because most women don’t report them. So, the most important thing we can do is report the symptoms we’ve experienced as a result of breast implants. It is also important to report after explant that we are getting better. We need to report all changes.
And then the second thing we are lobbying for is the Medical Safety Device Act, which applies to ALL devices. Why? Because multiple medical devices — I don’t know if you’ve seen the Bleeding Edge documentary on Netflix — but it explains the issue a lot better than I can. In a nutshell, medical devices can be grandfathered into the FDA system of approval once. That means, a device that didn’t work can still be approved. It can be harmful to someone – even your own child, yet still be approved – and I’m talking about all types of implants, not just breast implants.
Since breast implants have been “studied so well,” and I’m using air quotes, because the only studies conducted have been by the manufactures that actually make them, they can just keep manufacturing the same harmful products over and over again. These manufacturers aren’t being held accountable to the highest standards; so they don’t have to innovate. If they were held accountable, there would be more innovation and safer products. Breast Implants are a Class 3 medical device and because they are Class 3 medical devices, the manufacturer that makes that device can not be sued. Class 3 medical devices are supposed to be the most scrutinized type of medical implant
Even more recently, the FDA sent warning letters to three companies for their PMA’s, or premarket approvals. They had 15 days to respond. Only one of the manufacturers responded, Allergen, and they took two- to three months to respond — well after the 15-day deadline. Guess what? They are still NOT being held accountable for their failure to comply. It’s stunning. So this is what women can do. Go to Med Watch and share your story. Join a social media support group and share your story there. You know, I didn’t know for sure what was going on with my mysterious illnesses related to my implants until someone else shared her story with me.
We hope that as more women step forward, more legislators and lobbyists will get behind our efforts and stop the madness. That is what we’re pushing for.
The reason why I even met Dr. Barr and his group is that the organization that I am working for, BISA, Breast Implant Safety Alliance would like to unite with plastic surgeons to create awareness and reform. We are collaborating with plastic surgeons because we feel that it is a group effort; it’s not just one-sided. There are multiple sides to the BII issue. Now, I want you to understand, there are some people who do beautifully with implants, but they should still be aware of the potential side-effects in case they develop medical issues in the future.
Dr. Barr welcomes women who are dealing with BII to come in and just talk to him. He can share the research and his personal experiences as a surgeon with them, and they can make an educated decision about what to do next. Nobody wants to hear that their breast implants need to be removed. Nobody wants to go through an explant. But it is truly more important to have your health. I feel that having quality time with your family and enjoying a wonderful life is so much more. There are plenty of us in the groups who would rather be flat and healthy than end up on our deathbeds trying to adhere to society’s standards
If you live in Florida and suspect you have BII, I invite you to join a group I manage called the Breast Implant illness Florida Support Group. It’s a group where women share their experiences with their BII symptoms, the plastic surgeons they use and guidance. We share hope and healing.
How am I doing now? I am back to running my business again — the business that was never the cause of my fatigue. Now that my breast implants have been removed, I’m living life again. That’s the best way to describe it. I do have a few lingering issues, due to my immune system being compromised. But other than that, I mean compared to where I was three years ago? It’s a monumental difference. It’s amazing, once those implants are explanted, your body just breathes a huge sigh of relief. That’s the best way I can describe it. For me, the first thing I noticed was that I could actually breathe again. You don’t even realize how much breast implants restrict your breathing.
It’s kind of like when you have a splinter in your finger and it hurts and hurts and hurts. You’re trying and trying to get it out and as soon as you do, you feel instant relief. No pain; just relief. That’s what it feels like when you get your implants out. Your whole body is immediately relieved to have that foreign object out.
What’s next? BISA is excited to be attending the Plastic Surgeon Society meeting in San Diego this September, where we plan to do some lobbying, educating, and raising awareness. We will have women from all over the country to support our efforts.
I want to end by inviting you to contact me with any questions you may have about breast implant illness. You can join our support group on Facebook at https://facebook.com/groups/Breastimplantillnessfloridasupportgroup/, or if you wish to remain anonymous or prefer privacy, please email me at email@example.com It’s a special email I created that is devoted to women with concerns about breast implant illness. If you don’t want to go out and be public about your story, I completely understand. You can contact me at this email and I will keep everything confidential.
Whichever method works for you, please, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m ready to help. I know that our united front is only going to become stronger and better. We are on the right path. We are making progress…even if it is only baby steps. Please join us.