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Angelina Jolie’s Courageous Revelation

Angelina Jolie's Courageous Revelation

In a courageous op-ed in today’s New York Times, Angelina Jolie revealed that over the last several months she has undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy because she has BRCA1 gene.  She goes on to say that she did this because her mother died of ovarian cancer and that her doctors told her she had a 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer.  (She is clearly not done with her medical procedures and from the piece it sounds like she will deal with her ovaries in the future.)

It was a decision she made with the support of her partner Brad Pitt because she didn’t want her kids to live with the worry about whether their mom would be around as they grew up.

Angelina Jolie is a woman with means.  She has the money for the BRCA test.  She has the money for this type of extensive surgery.  But I’m guessing that she would give back all her money if her kids could have their grandma around.  

Genetic testing is a complicated issue for many women.  There those who might want the test but are afraid because they don’t want that information on their health insurance forms (even in the new world where you can’t be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition.)  Once something goes on your forms who knows who else could find out about it — maybe even potential employers.  

Angelina Jolie is not naive and knows that breast cancer kills and there are many women out there who do not have access to the proper medical care.  

Here are her words:

…I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action…

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.

There are not many women in Hollywood who could write an op-ed like this.  But she has crafted for herself a very unique position.  She is still the most sought after onscreen actress and since, as she says, you can’t tell that she had surgery except for some small scars, I imagine this won’t effect her on camera career at all.  

I hope that this will allow her some piece of mind.  She’s continues to be a pretty impressive woman.

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Anna Lee reminded me some comments from nay-sayers when Nicole Kidman became the UN goodwill ambassoder sveral years ago. They were saying Kidman was real deal while Jolie was fake. It was around 2007 and I have never read Kidman's work at UN since then.
I admire Kidman as an actress and don't blame her for NOT working much for UN.
But I'm sad for people like Anna Lee for their ignorance and their meaness toward humanity.

Jolie's grand grand mother, grand mother died of breast cancer or ovarian cancer and all her mother's siblings had died of BRCA1 oriented cancer within six years. They had passed away in their 40's or 50's. Jolie didn't mention these people in her co-ed piece in order to protect their relatives's privacy. But her aunt (she died of breast cancer a few days ago) strongly recommended her to take gene test because in her aunt case, when she found cancer in 2004, it was too late. Despite taking mastectomy, her cancer spread to multiple places of her body and caused her recent death.

Anna Lee

I admire Angelina Jolie's courage to go through genetic testing and then, upon receiving the results stating she has the BRCA1 gene, being willing to undergo a double mastectomy. However, she also has access to the best medical care in the world, she is not working an hourly wage 40-hr a week job (with poor benefits) while taking care of 6 kids all at once. There are a number of other famous folks who fought cancer without the media blitz: Patti Hansen, Maura Tierney, Sam Taylor-Wood to name a few. When Wendy Wasserstein lost her battle with cancer I do not recall a People cover dedicated to her. Though I find Angelina daring, I find her using her World Class Media Manipulation in all of this disturbing and wrong. Ever since she adopted her first child, got with Brad Pitt, became a UN ambassador, she has become a publicity queen. As if somehow it will erase her wild past: the drugs, the mental illness, the partying, all of it. Plus, she has gone through all of this major surgery to prevent cancer, and yet still looks completely anorexic. People need to be more than aware that each situation with regards to cancer and pre-cancer treatment is different for each person and not try to follow her example (unless absolutely necessary), but be sure to be informed of ALL their options available to them.

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