Angelina Jolie’s Decision

What are your thoughts on Angelina Jolie’s recent mastectomy (click on above link to see the Op-Ed article)

Actress and director, Angelina Jolie, published a New York Times OP-ED piece today called, My Medical Choice, which chronicles her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy when she learned that she had a 87% risk of developing breast cancer due to a faulty gene. What are you thoughts about this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below. You can also participate in a poll I created several months ago, Extreme Breast Cancer Prevention: Should At-Risk Women Have Both Breasts Removed? and participate in the discussion there as well.

My Response

Having gone through two bouts with serious cancer – one with a Grade III (out of IV) brain tumor and the other with breast cancer – I have come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong about anyone’s choice. I couldn’t imagine going through radiation again after what I went through the first time to treat the brain cancer. Without removing all breast tissue, there would always be in the back of my mind the possibility that breast cancer would reappear.  I didn’t want to take that chance.

No sooner than I was allegedly out of the deep woods with brain cancer (not in “complete remission” – a term used in the medical profession to describe someone who is cancer free for at least five years), I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2013.  The tumor in my breast was also Grade III, but not as far along as the brain cancer had been when I started treatment). Early detection made all the difference in my catching this tumor at a point where I could have it removed before it spread further. With all the choices before me, I chose the same route as Jolie: a double-mastectomy with reconstruction.

Unlike Jolie, genetic counseling I had years before revealed that I did not have the BRCA gene which increases one’s risk of having breast cancer from about 12% in the population at large to 87% for those carrying the BRCA gene.

I am currently in the process of undergoing reconstruction of both breasts after my mastectomy. It has not been an easy process, but I look forward to having breasts that dont’t look sad and . . . well, mutilated.

Who knows? I am thinking about and researching getting 3-D nipples and beautiful tattoos covering the scars when the time is right. There is nothing inside or outside my imagination (and hutzpah) that can’t be done.

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