Best-known for her feminine and whimsical designs, Iconic Fashion Designer Betsey Johnson was always scared that one day her breast implants would deflate. And when that actually happened, she was found to have breast cancer.
The 77-year-old explained that she was had a breast cancer lump hidden just behind her implant.
On Wednesday, Johnson told PEOPLE, “I discovered my breast cancer because my implant deflated overnight, my left one.”
“I had a massage scheduled for the morning, everything is fine that morning, but I always had to ask for a towel to roll up under my boobs, because I was always scared of them, that they were going to pop, that they were balloons that were going to pop,” she added.
She said it was weird to look down and not see her breast there after the implant popped. She said, “The implant was saline, the good stuff, so I didn’t feel anything, there was no change to your body and how it feels, but it was wild.”
Johnson immediately had her deflated implant removed. She said, “When they took that thing out it was exactly like an old, corroded portobello mushroom!” And then she noticed a lump during the healing process.
Adding that she received the diagnosis in 1999, she said, “I was like, ‘What is this hard-as-a-rock pea going on there?’ Which I never would have discovered if the implant hadn’t deflated.” Back then, mammograms were not so advanced to detect a lump around a breast implant.
“Now I know they are much better with mammograms,” she added.
In April, Johnson had a seizure attack, requiring open-heart surgery. She said, “I really went in thinking, ‘I won’t get through this.’ The breast cancer, you know, they do the [x-ray], but the heart ‘gig’ is much more subtle and hidden. There are really no signs.”
However, Johnson said she is now grateful to have her health back. “I am so happy that I am alive, I am feeling good,” she said. “It is simply great that at 77 to feel so good and to be alive and to still be working, and living in Malibu and the grandkids are in the backyard, and I feel great and I am still working like crazy.”