Christina Avila

My path to FLAT was via the road through reconstruction. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction with breast implants. That road began with a torturous year spent with the hard, rigid corner of an expander poking my sternum. I held out for the promise of better days, but soon after my exchange to implants surgery, one implant started rising up higher than the other.

When I went back to my plastic surgeon, he explained that this was “just
how my body responded to radiation, and something that couldn’t have been
predicted.” I learned later that it wasn’t just MY body, but the way MOST bodies
respond. That it was actually very predictable. I lived with it that way for four years, and as those years progressed, the implant on my irradiated side continued to rise higher and become more firm, tight, and uncomfortable-and ultimately painful.

After four years, I made the decision to get my first revision surgery. A “revision” was another thing I had never heard of when I began the process of reconstructing. It was at this time that I first learned about breast implant illness and began researching breast implants as medical devices, and their long history, in great depth. I started to discover I had a long list of breast implant illness symptoms that I had always attributed to various aspects of my cancer treatment. But, they were getting worse, not better, as time went on. At that time, I decided against the revision, and made my decision to explant to FLAT. The knowledge that I acquired during my research, fueled my passion to begin my own support group for breast cancer survivors and previvors, educating them on the grave dangers of implants, and advocating for the FLAT option. This group, Fierce, Flat, Forward, has attracted over 7000 members in less than three years as the flat movement continues to grow.

I continued on to cofound #InternationalFLATDay, designed to promote flat
visibility and awareness worldwide, and currently serve as vice president
of the nonprofit patient advocacy organization, My goal is that all women with breast implants become truly aware of their many risks and defects, all women getting implants have proper informed consent about them, and all newly diagnosed women understand FLAT as a worthy and beautiful option that carries many benefits.