Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie -- "Thank You"
Thank You Angelina Jolie
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I have been blogging for seven years about the BRCA mutation and genetic testing and have personally counseled numerous women about their options for dealing with the mutation. I am only one among many and there are dedicated websites to the BRACA discussion all over the web. Regardless of all that effort, no one will ever do for women diagnosed with the BRCA what Angelina Jolie did this week by openly talking about her decision to have a double mastectomy. Most women put off having the test even if they suspect a familial link and the decision to lose both breasts is not an easy one.
Jolie is no doubt one of the most famous women in the world if not the most beautiful. The perfection of her body is on display at most red carpet events and her breasts are probably the most famous pair in Hollywood. My guess is that women all over America who know they carry the BRCA gene or suspect they should get tested are reviewing their options or bringing this issue out to reexamine it – all because Angelina Jolie is talking about it.
The question is; if you were Angelina Jolie, would you have made this decision and made it this public? In truth she had no reason to discuss this procedure and could have kept it to herself never alerting anyone to the surgical changes to her body. For her the toughest decision might not have been deciding on the surgery, but choosing to share the information since her fame and fortune depend on her physical properties. I have not been a big fan of Jolie, but I am pretty impressed with her now.
Jolie had more options than most women because she didn’t have a breast cancer tumor. Her risk of the disease was high, but she wasn’t in any stage of the disease. Her options for reconstruction included nipple and skin sparing surgery. For others like myself, once the disease is present, there is no question of keeping the nipples, or extra skin. For Jolie, the surgeon could use a more minimally invasive procedure leaving little scarring and once the tissue was removed it could have been replaced with implants or Jolie’s own fat. I doubt however Jolie had any extra fat tissue lying around. In fact, Jolie did have nipple and skin sparing procedures with implants and talks about the beautiful results.
Breast reconstruction is far advanced and I have benefitted from the best surgeons and the newest techniques. I however did not have the opportunity to enjoy the results that Jolie will and I continue to urge women to get the genetic testing early so they too can benefit from a minimal change to their breasts while experiencing an almost 80% reduction in their chances of developing breast cancer.
Jolie is a catalyst for the issue. I applaud her decision and her discussion. Jolie will still need to undergo an oophorectomy to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer that her mother died of. At 37 she could still have more children, but we know she may have fulfilled that wish already.
I am sorry that she has to deal with this horrific disease, but to Angelina Jolie I say thank you!
Survive and Shine
Video: Natalya: Thank you Angelina Jolie!
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