Jolie’s Choice

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Angelina Jolie made the headlines today when she announced she had undergone an elective and preventative double-mastectomy after learning she carries the BRCA1 gene. Her doctors estimated she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer.

My reaction to her revelation: “Wow, good for her. How brave.”

I was taken aback when I read comments of others calling her an idiot for removing perfectly healthy body parts.

I suppose one’s reaction to such news is largely shaped by their own experiences. I lost my mom to breast cancer at the age of 57 and have struggled with deciding whether to have the genetic testing myself. What if the results show that I carry the gene? What then? How do you make a decision like that? Because a body part is healthy now does not remove the potential that lies within. I never want to experience the pain I watched my mom face, nor cause my loved ones the agony of watching me go through that.

I hope Jolie’s announcement helps women think about their options and serves as an encouragement of empowerment. Every woman’s situation is different. For some who have developed breast cancer, a lumpectomy may be an appropriate treatment (that was the route my mom chose, along with chemo and radiation). For others a single or double mastectomy may be appropriate. And for others like Jolie, who haven’t even developed cancer, such decisions are very personal and worthy of respect.

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4 responses to “Jolie’s Choice

  1. I agree. Her choice in doing this affects no one but herself…except for potentially affecting her loved ones in that they won’t have to see her suffer through breast cancer. People mutilate their bodies all the time for the sake of art or pleasure, by smoking, binge drinking, drugs, etc, destroying healthy parts and cells in the name of personal freedom. If you ask me, her reason for removing healthy body parts is much better than all of the above.

  2. It is definitely a personal choice and I think the decision she made was great. Why anyone would judge her poorly I can not understand. I see this has a completely unselfish act, considering her past, I’d say she’s grown up quite a bit. Good for her and her family. Hopefully this will help her to be at peace and live a longer, healthier life!!!

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