I can probably count on less than one hand how many times I have respected Angelina Jolie. I have known her to be many things, actress, sex symbol, collector of children, raider of both tombs and Botox – but never a role model.
I was first alerted to her courageous decision by clicking on a link that said “Angelina Jolie has a double mastectomy”. Strangely my first thought didn’t go to cancer. Why would she share this information? Why should we care? Maybe she did it so her boobs will never get old and saggy? I figured it was just another stupid celebrity trick to keep herself in the spotlight.
When I read her article “My Medical Choice” in the New York Times, my opinion of her was amended and I did a literal slow clap. Her forthcoming and sincere recollections of her procedure and experience were something to be thankful for. Not only was it very informative, it also made me think of the decision I would make were I in the same situation.
For me, the decision would be easy.
If you are reading this blog regularly, you are probably already well aware of my experience with cancer. Long story short, I lost the love of my life to cancer in 2005. I was invincible back then. I was 23 years old, a new mom and there was no way that cancer was going to ruin my life. But it did.
Before then, I hardly knew what cancer was. Nobody I knew had cancer. I didn’t know anybody personally who had died from cancer. Cancer was just the people who had no hair on the TV to me. Even after I met R. and he was going through his treatments, it never really hit me that it was a serious thing. For years I thought he was going to live through it, and even when they told us he wouldn’t, I still thought he was going to survive. I thought that way up until the day we found him unresponsive (I used to be really tenacious).
Having experienced that kind of loss (albeit not breast cancer), and being left as the only one to care for our child, I developed a fear of the disease.
I am not a beautiful actress. My breasts are not used for anything important. Even though they are possibly my greatest feature – as I was told by the inebriated guy at the bus stop a few years ago – I really wouldn’t miss having them hanging around(literally). If they stood between me and a long and healthy life with my son, then the choice for me has already been made.
Unfortunately, this decision is not always an easy one for all. The decision to have a double mastectomy is surely not one to be taken lightly. I think the most important message that Ms. Jolie is portraying to women everywhere is: “I Choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”
Ms. Jolie closes with an important message to all: “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
I felt like this message was directed at me (as I’m sure many of us do). I devote way too much of my time being afraid of things I could potentially control.
The article is very inspirational. I urge you to read and to follow Angelina Jolie’s advice (Inever thought I would write that – ever).