Guest Post: A Daughter Writes About Her Mother, LuAnne Szenay

My mother, LuAnne, and I have been separated for 30+ long years. This has been a terribly painful experience for both of us. I thought as the years passed, perhaps, the pain would lessen. But, sadly, it has only increased. I’ve learned the painful truth that growing old in prison is a death sentence in itself.

Mom went to prison when I was eight-years-old. She is a survivor of intimate partner violence perpetrated by my late father, and she shouldn’t have gone to prison. Even the two men responsible for the murder conclude that she was wrongfully convicted. We have a team of professors and law students from the University of Michigan, a domestic violence expert from Michigan State University, the former MDOC prison psychologist, and other advocates working hard on getting her released.

Unfortunately, that is a slow process.

Today, she is in excruciating pain and needs medical care urgently. She’s suffering from BII, ‘Breast Implant Illness,’ (breastimplantillness.com) from a 31-year-old pair of polyurethane-coated silicone-filled textured breast implants from the Dow Corning Company. These implants are so toxic that the FDA put a moratorium on them in 1992. Since then, they’ve been deemed harmful in a court of law and have recently been linked to a rare form of lymphoma, BII-ALCL. My mother is living with this knowledge since the mid-1990s.

Mom hasn’t been able to have her toxic breast implants removed because of her incarceration. She’s serving a life sentence in Michigan’s only female prison, Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility. A few of the doctors I have consulted with on the outside assume her implants have ruptured since she has over 80% of the BII symptoms, leaving her with a diagnosis of Psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

These 31-year-old bags are slowly leaking into her body and lymphatic system, compromising her immune system even further. I’ve asked the Michigan Dept. of Corrections to give her an MRI for years to detect for leaking silicone. We’ve complained to their Chief Medical Officer and the best we could get is an ultrasound. In mid-2018, the diagnostic showed ‘non-biological’ material on the outside of the implant.

Since her health is worsening, I am working with Justice thru Storytelling Inc., Michigan Women’s Clemency Project, American Friends Service Committee, and Humanity for Prisoners, all Michigan based nonprofits, to move this forward as quickly as possible.  With our combined pleas, the prison says she can have the MRI and surgery but only if the family makes all the arrangements and pays for the procedure, transportation, and staffing. I found a highly recommended surgeon who is willing to perform the procedure at $7500.00. We also have to pay for the transportation and guards to accompany her the entire time.

Today, countless women have come forward, realizing that both saline and silicone breast implants have been making them ill for decades despite their doctors claiming otherwise. There are numerous support groups on social media for women, either deciding to remove them and thousands grateful they did.

However, the FDA has only recently recognized this as a problem and now warning women of the dangers that could follow.

I’ve waited every single day for over 30 years for her to come home, and now I fear BII might take that from me.

Learn more here.

Jennifer Szenay

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