Lauren Wasser was a 24-year-old model and aspiring WNBA player when she almost lost her life to Toxic Shock Syndrome. She told VICE in June about what it was like to lose her leg to the disease and sat down with them again recently to warn women about the potential dangers of tampons.
“I had to come out with my story because I needed to share what was happening and speak for all those little girls who have lost their lives,” Wasser told VICE. “I stand not just for a disability but I stand for women and women’s rights.”
Her story is horrifying: She was using super-plus tampons, “just doing my usual routine” when she started feeling really sick. She got into bed to sleep it off and was found facedown on her bedroom floor days later “10 minutes from death.”
She doesn’t remember much of her hospital stay — she was on life support because all her organs were failing and she was put into a medically induced coma to survive. The first memory she has of waking up was hearing the infectious disease doctor tell her mother they needed to amputate her right leg.
Wasser credits her girlfriend’s phototherapy for helping her get through the subsequent months. Seeing photos of herself in pain and recovering helped her get to the point where she thinks she’s “more beautiful than [she’s] ever been, inside and out.”
Wasser is engaged in an ongoing lawsuit with the Kimberly-Clark Corporation (the company that makes the Kotex Natural Balance tampons she used when she came down with TSS) and the grocery stores that supplied her with the tampons. She plans to continue fighting for transparency from these companies about the health hazards tampons pose for women.
You can watch her entire interview on VICE.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com