Monday’s Food for Thought: Angelina Jolie’s Medical Choice

new food for thought

When I saw Angelina Jolie’s op-ed piece in the NY Times last week on her preventive double mastectomy, I applauded her. And then I admired her bravery and willingness to go public with a very private, personal decision.

Last year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since her two younger siblings died of cancer, and her older sibling survived a bout with cancer, she decided to be genetically tested. Unfortunately, she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. We have talked several times about what she might have done differently in her 30s and 40s if she had had this information; it’s very likely she might have done something preventive, given her family history.

I love what Jolie said in the article:

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.

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.

Armed with the knowledge that my family now carries the BRCA1 gene, I decided to be genetically tested last summer. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but my husband and I talked through several options of what we would and should do if my test came back positive. I had prepared myself for the possibility of preventive surgery as one of my options. Thankfully, my test came back negative. Even so, I remain vigilant about my own health.

I’m happy to say that my mother has made a full recovery, using both holistic and conventional medicine. Her oncologist officially declared her in remission two weeks ago.

Would you consider preventive surgery as an option? How do you feel about genetic testing?

-Mandy

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4 thoughts on “Monday’s Food for Thought: Angelina Jolie’s Medical Choice

  1. My grandmother had breast cancer, but her doctors think it was triggered by hormone replacement therapy. Because of the way her cancer came about they advised my sister and I to stray from any hormones. It sure makes trying to not get pregnant during graduate school fun lol, but I’m happy to think that none of my family’s cancer has been genetic. Hopefully.

  2. Just about every woman on my mom’s side has had breast cancer: mom, grandmother, aunts & great-aunts. I’ve grown up with the knowledge that I will most likely have breast cancer. Four years ago, at age 30 I began seeing a specialist for yearly mammograms and ultrasounds. However I’ve opted out of genetic testing. I don’t want a false sense of security if the tests come back negative. I’ve opted for constant vigilance instead. If/when I’m diagnosed with breast cancer, I will have a double mastectomy. I only want to go thru treatment once.

    • I was surprised at how I felt when I took the test, and when I was told it was negative. I know the test is just a marker to say you’re at a higher risk of getting cancer,but there is always the chance that you won’t get it. And there is always the chance that I even though I tested negative, I could end up having breast cancer anyway. I think the important thing here is that we remain vigilant and in control of our health, and I applaud you for doing that!

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