I read a blog post today about “The Angelina Effect” (see my previous blog post “Double Mastectomy Heroism” for some background), which went into a statistical analysis of the BRCA gene and resulting breast cancer. It basically looked at the statistics and decided that genetic testing in this regard is not accurate and results in unnecessary surgery and emotional trauma associated with mastectomies. Although I see their point of view, I think it may have been written by a man who has clearly never been affected in any way by breast cancer and likely also does not understand the concept of the emotional relief for the woman and her family, knowing that she is safe from the disease and that her family will not have to nurse her to her death one day.
Nonetheless, it did also introduce me to this new concept in the BSE (Breast Self-Examination) space: The Non-Evasive Breast Tissue Screening Bra!
Check it out – it is fascinating!
So news broke today that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. Yes. She voluntarily had her breasts removed just in case she got breast cancer. Sounded crazy to me when I heard it. Almost like removing your eyeballs in case you go blind. But when you read her story, it all makes sense.
This story has been on my mind all day and I can’t shake it, especially after being Mother’s Day in South Africa this past weekend. For those of you that know me personally, you know that my mom recently died after a long and heartbreaking battle with breast cancer. She got to meet and spend time with her grandchildren from my two siblings, got to attend 2 children’s weddings and play a part in their families. My kids will never know their grandmother. They will never know that she was the most selfless human being. They will never know her dry sense of humour and never get to feel her gentle touch. My future husband will never experience being welcomed into the family over a glass of wine (that used to make her nose go red). They may, however, know what it is like to lose a mother to cancer. They just might know what it feels like to hold her hand while she takes her last breath and the numbing shock that follows.
Her cancer does not seem to be the genetic kind. Lucky in that there is a good chance I won’t get it, but unlucky in that there is no way of knowing whether or not I will.
I admire Angelina Jolie for what she did. If I was in the same position as her and had the financial means to do what she did in prevention, I would do it in a heartbeat. It is amazing to see such selfless acts that restore my faith in human beings.