An interview with Explant Pioneers, Lauren and Sheri
The complex dynamic between women, cultural systems, power, percieved beauty and their bodies sometimes leads to the decision to get cosmetic breast implants. It has long been suspected that these implants can cause medical problems. Today two sisters, Sheri Clemente and Lauren Ferrante, a filmmaker and a yoga teacher, are immersed in a new “explant” movement, created to inform women about the risks of implants—and the possible benefits of having them removed. In February, the FDA established a link between certain breast cancers and implants. You can read about this at the Mayo Clinic's site.
Sheri currently lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked behind the scenes in the music and film industry for most of her career. After healing from Breast Implant Illness, she left her highly stressful film studio position and is pursuing things that bring joy and meaning to her life. Her film-in progress, EXPLANT, is her first time both producing and being on-camera. Lauren is a certified Catalyst Life Coach and Self-love Warrior. She is the owner of Island Flow Yoga, and can be found teaching yoga in stunning seaside locations in Islamorada, Florida.
Interviewed February, 2019
RW: What symptoms were you experiencing personally?
Sheri: We had some shared symptoms which included brain fog, chronic body aches, extreme fatigue, vision problems, digestive issues, adrenal fatigue, headaches, hormonal issues, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, candida, heavy metal toxicity, anxiety and depression, tingling in extremities, heart palpitations, body temperature regulation issues. My symptoms included a feeling of hopelessness due to the lack of a diagnosis, and a desire to die rather than to continue living like that.
Lauren was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and Hashimotos (an immune system disorder) six months after implants were placed. She suffered multiple miscarriages. Lauren also had an episode where she died in 2014 and had to be resuscitated twice and hospitalized for days. No tests concluded a cause. Fun stuff!
Rosebud Woman: How did you make the connection between your health and your breast implants?
Lauren: Sheri's ex-husband had a girlfriend who had a lot of health issues—seizures, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other undiagnosed symptoms. She had also noticed that her urine started smelling like chemicals, and thought it could be her breast implants. As soon as Sheri heard that, she had an "aha" moment and immediately called me. From that moment on we both just knew that our implants were the cause of our own numerous unexplainable symptoms.
RW: How did each of you come to the conclusion to have the implants removed?
Lauren: Once we were made aware of the possibility that our implants were the culprit, we started researching like crazy. We came across the website www.healingbreastimplantillness.com, an amazing resource of information regarding breast implant illness. This led us to a private Facebook page called "Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole," a forum of women who are experiencing almost identical health concerns. At this point, as both of us were so physically ill and desperate for answers, making the decision was a no-brainer. Sheri and I immediately found the top explant surgeons in our areas (Dr. Jae Chun in Newport Beach, CA and Dr. Margueritte Barnett in Sarasota, FL) , and we scheduled the earliest available surgery dates.
RW: How did the people in your life react, and how did your doctor react?
Sheri: At the time we went through this in 2016, there was no conclusive medical evidence acknowledging Breast Implant Illness or a link between breast implants and the multitude of health issues we were experiencing. This has, of course, now changed. It's quite conclusive! We both had implants and had visited numerous doctors, but over the course of 15 years not one had suggested a possible connection between our illnesses and our implants. We both experienced a lack of support and empathy from many people in our lives including friends and family. We were under the care of a naturopathic doctor who believed us once we identified it, and thought it made complete sense. He kept us as healthy as possible up until our surgeries.
RW: Aside from the possible contraindications of breast implants, is there anything else you would like women to know about them?
Lauren: I am not sure women fully understand that when they "sign up" for breast implants, they are also committing to future surgeries. Implants have a shelf life of 8-10 years (if there are no contraindications), after which time they need to be removed or replaced. Aside from the physical risks of surgery, implants done for cosmetic reasons are not covered by insurance—and each surgery can cost thousands of dollars. A woman that gets implants in her 20's for example, is looking at several more surgeries over the course of her life, at least one per decade.
Explant surgery is also very expensive, often more expensive than the implant surgery. It is most often not covered by insurance. It is imperative to choose a skilled and highly experienced surgeon that specializes in Explant and is committed to removing the whole capsule (the scar tissue that forms when implants are placed in the body) to ensure no potential toxins remain in the body.
RW: You had yours surgeries in 2016—About how long did it take before you began feeling healthy again?
Sheri: We both noticed feeling dramatically better upon awakening from surgery, but it is a process. While we are both mostly better, we do experience setbacks at times. We have to live our lives consciously, and with extreme self care.
RW: Since you've returned to your former breast size, what have you noticed about your body and the way you feel?
Lauren: We both feel like we have come home to ourselves. It has been not just a physical journey back to health, but a journey of self-love and acceptance. It is hard to articulate in words, but this experience has been a necessity for both of us to learn the greatest love of all: the love of self. We have turned poison into the sweetest of nectars.
RW: What made you decide to make a movie about this experience?
Sheri: I’ve worked in film for many years, and a dear friend of mine is also in the film industry witnessed her experience in its entirety. Together we decided to make a documentary about it. The film is called EXPLANT, and will be released sometime in 2019.
RW: What impact would you like the film to have?
Sheri: I would like this movie to raise awareness and serve as a "buyer beware" for women, so that they can have the information available to them to make the best decision for themselves. To question everything, to seek knowledge and understanding, to create change.
RW: What message would you like to give women about their bodies and breasts in particular?
Sheri: The message we would like to give is not one of judgment or shame. It is a message of self awareness, self love, and body positivity. That beauty cannot be purchased or determined by the size of your breasts.
RW: Is there a special or different message for women who have had reconstructive implants after mastectomies?
Sheri: This is a difficult question to answer. All of us need to be aware of our bodies, practice self care and self love, and make our own personal best decisions. Education is power. Don't panic! Not everyone gets sick from their implants. I would encourage women to educate themselves about the symptoms of breast implant illness. If they find themselves experiencing ill health, consider that it may be the implants. It also may not be!
RW: If you could talk with your younger self when she was deciding to have implants in the first place, what would you tell her?
Lauren: We would tell her that she is beautiful, she is perfect, and she is enough...that I was sorry if I made her feel anything less. There is Ho'oponopono mantra which resonates with us..."I love you. I'm Sorry. Please Forgive Me. Thank You."
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