Did Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy Start a Global Revolution?
Even if you try your darndest to avoid the news, like myself, you probably could not have escaped reading about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy. As of yesterday, and probably for a while now, it’s been featured in all the news outlets, all over the world. This morning, my dear group of girlfriends and I were sounding our opinions on What’s App (thank you long distance communication technology) on the whole thing all the way from France, Italy, the UK and the US. Just to tell you how much of a global conversation this really is…
For those who are just emerging from deep sleep or barely rolling down the stone they’ve been snoring under, here is a quick recap of the whole debate: famous actress and international sex-symbol Angelina Jolie herself came out with an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday, revealing to the world that she underwent a double mastectomy to lower her chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer. As she writes in her op-ed, after losing her own mother to breast cancer at only 56, and testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, which increases a patient’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, she made the brave decision to have both her breasts removed. And a few months later, she made the decision to share her choice with other women, as an act of empowerment and prevention for all women out there at risk of being diagnosed one day with this terrible disease.
As much as I applaud Angelina Jolie’s decision, right along with most of Hollywood celebrities, news outlets and pretty much anyone who has an opinion out there, I cannot help but wonder (and frankly, be petrified at the sheer thought) whether, as much hope as modern technology and care may provide us with, we really have a one-up on cancer, or not. As I was discussing with my girls from the European side of our world this morning, the logistical realities of such a procedure are drastically different for a patient here in the US than a patient in Europe or other parts of the world. While in France the entire treatment may be covered, from breast removal to a lifetime follow-through of any complications that may occur afterwards, here on our side of the blogosphere, you have more chance of getting reconstructive surgery for testicles if you’re a man than breast reconstructive surgery after cancer. Now where’s the logic in this again?
So now, not only did Ms. Jolie’s brave decision start a global conversation on healthcare worldwide, it also re-ignited the fuel of many conversations among women (and men) about the importance of their health, and the best way to address the risks presented by this terrible disease. And as my dear friend N. put it so well, when you’re under 5 feet, a new mom, and your breasts represent about 3/4 of your body, self-esteem, right along with the nutritional needs of your newborn, this is serious…It’s serious because it affects our very ability to live, our reproductive privileges, our self-esteem as women, right down to our very sense of identity…And it’s serious for all of us, as young or old as we may feel, as extensive or modest as our financial means may be, or as afraid or detached as we may feel…
Not all of us may be able to afford the $3,000 (or more) cost of genetic testting to detect the gene mutations that may pose a risk for us, and neither are all of us ready to have both our breasts preventively removed, but one thing is certain: none of us want to die of cancer…And just because of that, I think Ms. Jolie may just have started a global revolution starring women of all ages, of all nationalities, creeds and races, united together in one single goal: WE REFUSE TO DIE OF CANCER!
Now it may be time for all the powers and authorities to be to respond to that call…
Do you think Angelina Jolie started a global revolution against cancer?