Hwee Hwee Laurence has a wish –
On 10 December 2013, Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the company Poly Implant Prothèses (PIP) that made defective breast implants not conforming to medical standards, was judged in court in Marseille. He was condemned to four years’ imprisonment, fined 75 000 Euros and not allowed to work anymore in medical-related fields.
I suspect I was one of the last people implanted with a PIP because just two months after having the mastectomy operation, I received a letter from the hospital informing me of this. The ‘re-shock’ was almost too much to bear. And of course, over the following months, the hullabaloo over this scandal was reported almost daily in the news and it certainly was not good for the morale especially when one was undergoing chemotherapy.
You might ask – why did I have an implant in the first place? Am I so vain about keeping my breasts? Or did my husband want me to have an implant? The answers are ‘No’. I never wanted an implant or any breast reconstruction. My husband’s only aim was that I get well, and if he ever mentioned the possibility of an implant, it was because he was concerned that I might be psychologically ‘disturbed’ by my asymmetry.
I had an implant because every one of the doctors I met related to my cancer strongly advised that I should. At that time, I had the impression that feminity is an important aspect for French women since at first, nobody could believe that I really did not want an implant. ‘You are still young!’ they said.
So why did I give in? I did so because I did not know otherwise. I had never had cancer or a mastectomy, never knew what it would be like to be flat on one side nor what it would feel like to have an implant. In the end, shouldn’t doctors know best? Which is why I wished that, because they knew better than me, they had fought harder to stop using PIP implants once problems started, not continued to do so until the last few months before ‘higher authorities’ decided against it.
I have been advised to remove, no – to change – the implant. So far, I have not plucked up the resolve to go for another operation. Also, I have been considering not having a new implant. But then, I am now so used to having it that I am scared to have to readjust to being asymmetrical.
The one thing I have learnt from all this is – let’s not cry over spilt milk (or silicone – ha ha!). I could have regretted listening to the doctors, but then without an implant I could have hated my lopsided body, too. I can continue to rave and rant at Monsieur Mas but what good would that do to my health? Better to just let go and get on with life.
My annual check-up is coming up soon and I will have to make a decision by then. So maybe – a new right breast would be what I will be getting this Christmas.