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Breast Cancer: A Badge of Honor

What do we think of when we hit February, the second month of the year? Chilling temps (our east coast family), Black History, Valentine’s Day, Presidents' Day … those are just a few standouts.

But here at EOTS we also think of Breast Cancer Awareness, and we know it’s not October but for us every month is the perfect time to spread our pink vibes!

Let’s meet our Survivor for February, Kim Nelson-Edwards.

Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer in her right breast. Her first approach was having a lumpectomy, which we’ve explained in previous posts, and involves removing just a portion of the affected breast.

Unfortunately in Kim’s case there were so many tumors present that removing just a portion could not eliminate the threat so she underwent a mastectomy, removing the entire breast, followed by reconstructive surgery.

After her surgeries, and five rounds of chemotherapy, Kim found herself cancer-free.

While this was (and still is) a huge victory, Kim reminds us that unforeseen complications can arise well after the threat of cancer subsides. Just this past summer, with 10 years of cancer survival under her belt, Kim’s breast implant ruptured causing silicone to leak into her body.

This rupture called for extensive surgery to remove the potentially poisonous silicone from her body and then replace the implant. As many women going through breast cancer will have, and have had, reconstructive surgery, it's worth noting some things about implant care.

According to the FDA, breast implant rupture happens in 1% or more of all breast implant patients at any time after breast implant surgery as well as other complications including capsular contracture which is a hardening of the breast area around the implant causing tightness and pain. Capsular contracture can also be a cause of rupture.

The FDA also explains that a rupture is a tear or hole in the outer shell of the breast implant and that while this sort of tear can occur in saline-filled breast implants as well, it doesn’t exactly rupture but rather deflates causing the saltwater (saline) solution to leak.

However, with silicone gel being much thicker than saline, if there is a tear or hole in the implant, it doesn’t exactly deflate but rather ruptures, which can cause the gel to remain within the shell or scar tissue that forms around the implant, referred to as an intracapsular rupture.

However, silicone gel can still escape from the scar tissue around the implant and move away from the breast which happened to Kim. The FDA warns that this leakage can cause lumps to form in the breast, chest wall, armpit, arm, or even abdomen and though many ruptures happen without symptoms, known as "silent ruptures", some signs or symptoms can further include decreased breast size, pain or tenderness, tingling and numbness.

In either case, FDA recommends removing both saline-filled and silicone gel-filled breast implants if they have ruptured (or deflated) and emphasizes that implants are NOT lifetime devices stating very matter-of-factly that if you have implants you will need to monitor them for the rest of your life.

They specifically recommend periodic MRI examinations for silicone-based implants in order to detect “silent ruptures” and implant manufacturers agree, suggesting that women with silicone gel-filled breast implants undergo MRI screening three years after getting a new implant and every two years thereafter for the best early detection.

While it's good to keep a cautious mind, and important for our overall health, Kim's not letting this or anything else hang over her head!

On any given day you might catch her riding free (pictured above), which she tells us is a definite go-to for her.

"I have been riding motorcycles since 1989. I find that riding my motorcycle gives me the freedom to release stress and to just be alone with myself, with God, to think and be grateful."

And as if that’s not inspiring and bad-ass enough, she also kicks crime off the streets of Essex County in New Jersey! But if you ask Kim, this is not the source of her fearlessness.

"I am a detective with the Montclair Police Department and having to be tough and brave for the job is important, but I have learned that bravery is an attitude and being a cancer survivor is my badge of honor."

Along with her own courage, Kim has a passion and determination to spread awareness acting as an advisor to a breast cancer awareness club at a local high school, and starting her own nonprofit, “Kim’s Breast Friends”.

We are so happy Kim joined our EOTS family and thankful she has shared her story with us!

We hope you all enjoy the rest of the month and cannot leave without wishing a very happy birthday to both our January and February Survivor sisters who have every reason to celebrate their special days and another year that breast cancer loses!

Our January babies were Lisa Crapps (October featured Survivor), Sara Snyder (April featured Survivor) and Tuana Grundy (August featured Survivor). And our February baby is Sharon Daughtry-Simon (November featured Survivor).

See you all soon and until then, keep your Eye on Strength!

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