Sometimes you just know something isn’t right. I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice since becoming a widow in October of 2009. Life has taught me that my inner voice is there for a reason and I should heed what it’s telling me.

In 2017 and 2018, I just didn’t feel good. Truth be told, I hadn’t felt right for a few years. Mounting issues that ranged from debilitating neck pain and joint aches, fibromyalgia, chronic inflammation and so much more seemed to be piling on and making me uncomfortable in my own skin.

I did everything right.

I ate well, drank tons of water, exercised daily yet still my body seemed to be revolting against me more by the day.

I saw every expert under the sun. Doctors, naturopaths, a therapist, and so many more. I had blood drawn, tests ran, countless dollars spent, all to be told I was a perfectly healthy 40-something. Once you’ve seen enough “experts” and they say nothing is wrong, it starts to take a toll on your soul and spirit. I was emotionally exhausted.  I knew something was wrong but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

I’ve spent years really getting to know my body and one thing my late husband’s death taught me in 2009 is you ALWAYS listen to your gut instincts. You have been given that sixth sense for a reason and when I’ve heeded my internal gut warnings, it has never steered me wrong. Women should be celebrated for that gift of self-awareness, but often we are chastised for being too emotional or too dramatic by a male-dominated culture and medical industry.

I was neither too emotional nor too dramatic; I was sick and I knew it.

My chronic pain came to a head in June of 2018, when our Adventure tribe took a group 100 miles around the base of Mt. Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland. I trained hard, I was more than prepared and yet my secret hidden throughout the entire hike was horrific numbness in my right leg which made each step more painful than the last. At the end of some days, I’d want to break down in tears because the pain was so bad but we were surrounded by our group so I held it in, rested and prepared for the next day. I have people in my personal life whom I love and are sick, very sick, so my seeming mystery pain and chronic issues almost didn’t seem worthy of mention by comparison. Doctors had told me I was fine so I just powered on and dealt with the pain.

I chalked all of this, and about 40 plus more symptoms up to things like early menopause, delayed grief, and stress from overwork and travel. My long list of symptoms included horrific daily heart palpitations, chest pains, anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue, brain fog,  headaches, itchy skin (to the point I’d bleed), chest pains, weight gain, shortness of breath, skin rashes, and vertigo. I focused on de-stressing my life, did more grief work, had my doctors recheck my heart, my thyroid, and my blood…and again, all seemed okay.

As I reflected back on the past several years, I realized that my issues began for me in 2012 when I started having horrible neck pain that no amount of therapy would correct. From there, my symptoms multiplied every year and became more difficult to deal with.

I was at a loss…

What was wrong with me?

When I’d look in the mirror I didn’t even recognize myself. My face was so inflamed, puffy, red, and swollen. I continued to clean up my diet to the point of being obsessive. Anti-Inflammatories like turmeric were a staple in my life and I made sure to steer clear of anything my body didn’t agree (such as my dairy allergy) and I added infra-red sauna, more water and hours of daily meditation to my already busy schedule.  No matter what I did, nothing was helping and I was really hurting now physically and emotionally.

One day, an angel posted a comment on One Fit Widow and I now credit her with giving me my life back.

I was complaining of how it had become harder for me to write; my fire that so many people seem to love about me was dwindling…I felt like my soul was dying.  

All she said in her comment was, “Michelle, please look up Bii.”

Mind you, some days I wouldn’t even have it in me to read comments on my social media sites, but for some reason, I was called to read this comment and it stuck with me.

What the heck was Bii?? I’d never heard of it.

I went to google and plugged in 3 little letters that would absolutely blow my mind.

Bii stands for Breast Implant Illness…

Now here is the part of my story that I have NEVER, EVER shared. Yes, I share a lot about grief, life after loss and heartache but this just felt too personal.

In June of 2010, 8 months after I lost Mitch, in a deep grief haze after dropping seventy pounds, half my body fat, nursing my two children for a combined 4 years, I decided to get a breast augmentation. I’d reached the pinnacle of my fitness but as I looked at my amazing and strong body that had survived the horrific throes of death, had stood strong to take care of my one and three-year-old children through loss, and took total control of my health and my life…THAT body still didn’t feel like it was enough.

In hindsight that makes me so sad to type…how could I ever feel like I wasn’t enough?

How brainwashed was I by the images around me, the media, and my own insecurity?

I didn’t feel like enough woman.

I didn’t feel sexy.

I didn’t feel worthy.

In my mind, somehow my breasts were defining my self-worth and I allowed that insecurity to shape what came next.

That’s what multi-billion dollar industries bank off of isn’t it….women’s insecurity?

The truth is I was enough but sometimes life hands us tough lessons so we can grow, evolve, and pass along what we learn to those around us.

I was about to enter a new life lesson.

When I first read about Breast Implant Illness I simply discounted the entire concept. From my perspective, everyone was doing it, the FDA approved it, my doctor assured me it was not only safe but also a lifetime device if, and I quote, “you take good care of yourself and your implants.”  The truth is, I take better care of myself than many yet here I was dealing with all these strange issues.

Nope, couldn’t be.

Had to be something else.

For about two weeks I tried to ignore the comment but it stuck with me and finally, I started to dive into some research. I remember seeing the symptoms laid out in front of me and it seemed like a puzzle had been put together. I continued to read, study and learn over the next few days, to find out everything I could about this potential illness and the process by which implants were approved for human use.  What I uncovered was alarming, to say the least. I read countless articles, scientific journals and even autopsies. Medical reports from prestigious universities where women’s bodies were donated to research and silicone toxicity was uncovered and laid out for anyone to read. An undeniable connection to autoimmune issues, especially for women with histamine tendencies in their bodies (I have many allergies) and even a connection to trauma and the bodies inability to ward off foreign devices once the immune system had taken a big hit…like grief. As I sat back and thought of that initial meeting with my plastic surgeon, there was no warning to have them replaced every ten years; nobody showed me the list of chemicals about to sit over my vital organs; no concern voiced over my personal auto-immune tendencies; and there was never any mention of getting an MRI every two years to make sure they hadn’t ruptured.  I just remember being told they were safe and I was going to look great.

Finally, I went to my husband Keith. I was unsure if he’d support this idea or think I was going crazy but his reaction astounded me. I will never forget what he said, “Well, of course they’d make you sick, they are foreign substance in your body made up of chemicals, and in time your body will reject that, it’s a given.”

Ugh…he was right.

Why had I never thought of it this way before?

I continued my research and I uncovered the 40 plus VERY TOXIC chemicals in all implants (even saline has silicone on the shell). Chemicals like lacquer thinners, printer ink, multiple neurotoxins and so much more. The more I researched and uncovered the more angry, disappointed and concerned I became. The lack of human testing, especially under the heat of the human body, was astounding.

How could this be okay?

How was this approved by our own FDA?

Shouldn’t we prove they are safe BEFORE we take them to market instead of the other way around?

All in all, I researched for nearly eight months before Keith finally said to me, “Honey, enough research, just take them out.” He asked me one very profound question, “Is it worth the risk?”  I sat with that for a long time. He was right. Even if there was a chance that they were not responsible for my rapid decline in health, there was a greater chance they were. There literally was no other reasonable explanation. Why would I even consider taking a chance?

Finally, in October of 2018, I made the call to schedule my explant surgery in Dallas, Texas with a leading doctor who practices the safest removal and explant procedure. Given our busy travel schedule, I had to wait until March for a long enough break between trips, speeches, and lectures before I could have the surgery performed and have the time I’d need to heal. That waiting period was tough; I just wanted them out and my numb right leg had become my entire numb right side. Even my face was now going numb. My heart palpitations were relentless, I was always out of breath, and no matter how clean I was eating, my weight was only going up and my chronic inflammation was getting worse by the day. I’d itch till I’d bleed, have bouts of vertigo, and I’d get so cold I’d have to be covered head to toe in 80-degree weather.  Even my fitness clients noticed. Many of them asked me if I was sick, and I was unsure what to say to them…until I finally explained what was going on to them a few weeks before my surgery.

They were incredibly supportive.

Many of them reached out with similar issues and concerns, and my heart broke. There are literally millions of women walking around world-wide right now who could be sick from something foreign in their body and, like me all those years, not even know it.

My surgery was set for  March 7th and while I was patiently awaiting my turn, the bottom started to fall out on the implant industry.

On February 6th, the FDA announced that ALL IMPLANTS can cause a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma called BIA-ALCL, which is a form of cancer of the immune system. Seventeen women (to-date) have died worldwide and hundreds more have been diagnosed. The implant manufacturers say that’s not many, but to me, as a mother of children who’ve lost a parent and a woman who has grieved the life of someone she didn’t think I could live without…even one life is too many. A few weeks later, the FDA issued warnings to two of the major breast implant manufacturers because they didn’t comply with proper testing since being allowed back to market nearly a decade ago.

Finally, on March 25th and 26th, the FDA held hearings to talk about the safety and regulation of these devices. Countless amazing, brave, and strong women testified and doctors spoke to the undeniable connection between implants and auto-immune issues, and now cancer. One doctor in particular from Canada stopped me in my tracks. He has dedicated his career to studying the relationship to women’s health and implants. He spoke of a woman who came to him with chronic left leg numbness. They tested her for EVERYTHING and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. The pain was so bad that it eventually paralyzed her and finally, her condition deteriorated and they had to amputate the leg. When they tested her leg they found that her joints, nerves, etc were overrun with silicone. If you think in order for that to happen her implants would have to have ruptured…think again. She was suffering from what they call a “slow gel bleed.” I thought back to my extreme right leg pain and realized that her story could have been mine.

My surgery went as planned in early March; about 3.0 hours in length and my doctor joked with me at my post-op that his arm was sore the next day from holding up all my “chest muscle” on my left side.  That same side had “capsular contracture” which means my body was fighting the implants and building up my own immune response trying to protect my system. Often women being diagnosed with BIA-ALCL have had capsular contracture but thankfully my pathology came back cancer free. My report showed that I had multiple benign fibrosis and the blood work listed “Chronic Inflammation” as an issue. I also had to have major pectoral repair work done that a month later still hurts like crazy. My capsules were “wet paper towel thin” but my doctor is a pro and he got it all out of my body and washed the area clean. It’s still crazy for me to think that those 40 plus toxins were literally sitting on top of my most important internal organs the past eight years and taking a toll on my entire system.

I woke up from surgery and within a day I started to notice drastic changes. I haven’t had a single heart palpitation since surgery. No shortness of breath, no vertigo, my joints haven’t ached once, my brain fog seems to be lifting and I’ve had zero headaches. I’ve also noticed a huge decrease in inflammation, redness in my face and that itching till I bleed…gone. My neck doesn’t hurt, my skin is glowing, and I’m down 15 pounds with no diet changes and zero exercises (given my pectoral damage I’m not cleared to train for 3 months).

Most importantly…my numb right side is no longer numb.

Countless people in my private groups have commented that they haven’t seen me this alive, happy, and well in YEARS.

They are right.

I’m 100% convinced that my body was at war with a foreign device and in the last year it reached critical mass.

I’m so thankful to the woman who left her comment on my page that opened my eyes to the timebomb within my own body. I’m also thankful to a few women who followed up this past year with emails (you know who you are).

I have no judgment towards other women and their choices for what’s best for their body or their life. People make these choices for very personal reasons from aesthetics to reconstruction after cancer and we all have to do what is right for our individual selves. My only wish is that you do your due diligence and be an advocate for your own best health. Please know that you do have choices that do not include breast implants. Don’t assume government agencies like the FDA or money hungry manufacturers are looking out for your best interest…they aren’t.

I am of the opinion that we should prove these implants are undeniably  safe BEFORE they are taken to market rather than saying they can’t be removed until we prove they are dangerous.

Let’s be honest, the beauty industry, plastic surgery clinics, and breast implant manufacturers are all sustained by you not feeling like you are enough. It’s a vicious cycle of thinner, younger, bigger breasts and smaller waists. The truth is you are enough, you’ve walked through fires and come out the other side and nothing is worth the beauty of your health and well-being. I’ve been brought to tears countless times over the past three weeks because my children have their mom back, my husband has his wife back, and my soul has it’s fire back.

Those gifts are priceless and nothing on this earth is worth that sacrifice.

My gratitude is overflowing and with this blog, I am paying it forward.

As I close, some may ask if I regret getting implants now that I know better. Well, I suppose strictly from a health perspective I do regret that choice I made 8 years ago, but what would my life look like if I hadn’t?  

I don’t believe in living with regret.

I took this as a major life lesson and an awesome opportunity to talk to my young daughters about self-love, acceptance and inner peace. As a mother, I hope they watch my experience and become that much stronger for their own personal journey.

It also took my relationship with Keith to an even deeper level of love and understanding. He stood by me through this entire situation, never questioned my concerns, held my hand when I didn’t feel good, was there when I woke up from surgery and has told me I was beautiful every day since we met…including my post-explant, toxic free body.

We grow, we evolve, we change.

That’s what life is.

I won’t apologize for making mistakes, but I will raise my voice for those who come after. May my mistake save you years of soul-crushing pain.

Onward and most certainly upward.

We are all enough.

Michelle”


Michelle is the best-selling author of, Healthy Healing and founder of One Fit Widow. Find her book anywhere books are sold or go to: http://www.healthyhealingbook.com

Resources for Breast Implant Illness help: https://healingbreastimplantillness.com, https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/explant-surgeons/

A few photos to capture my one month (to-date) journey of taking back my health.