Celebaby: Would YOU Do The Same As Angelina And Michelle?

16 May 2013

Unless you've been on holiday to the moon this week, you cannot possibly have missed the news that Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy.

Her mother died of ovarian cancer when she was just 56; recent tests revealed that Angelina carries the BRCA1 gene which gave her an 87% chance of developing breast cancer!  So she decided to have both her breasts removed, immediately.

Michelle Heaton, of former Liberty X fame, also underwent the same operation recently, for the very same reasons.

In an editorial piece, published in the New York Times, Angelina wrote:

My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman. Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65% risk of getting it, on average. 

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,' she wrote. 'But it is one I am very happy that I made.  My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 per cent to under 5 per cent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.

We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.  On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

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.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

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 will able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.

What would you do?

There would be NO doubt, or hesitation, in my mind - take them OFF, now! I was speaking with my husband about it yesterday evening - a friend of ours is currently fighting breast cancer, and his mother died of the disease when he was just 12 years old, so it's always a topic that triggers conversation - he wondered whether how many women would choose NOT to have their breasts removed, even after discovering they carried the gene.

I reckon not many at all - I heard a lady on the radio, who faced that very choice, saying, "If you knew that the plane you were about to get on had an 87% chance of crashing before you reached your destination, would you get on it?"

Not flippin' likely!!!  But, I'll ask again: what about you?  What would you do?

Angelina's chance of developing breast cancer has now been reduced to just 5%, however she still has a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer and is now taking steps to have her ovaries removed too.

TOPICS:   News and Recalls

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