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14-05-2013
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Angelina Jolie Had a Double Mastectomy
I don't know if it's entirely appropriate to post (we tend to post more fashion than celebrity news), but I thought we'd be remiss if we didn't draw attention to the act - especially because she wrote an amazing OpEd piece for the NYTimes about it. I find it incredibly brave and I hope it opens the field for conversation on a really touchy subject.

Quote:
My Medical Choice
by Angelina Jolie

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent 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 percent 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.

But 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.

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. 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. 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 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.

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 acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.

Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.

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.

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

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14-05-2013
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I just wanted to open a thread about the article. I absolutely agree that it is a very brave desicison and I applaud her decision to be so open about it.

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14-05-2013
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It takes a lot of strength for a woman like her in the public eye to be open about such a tough issue and I absolutely commend her wholeheartedly for this op-ed. I'm sure countless of women that face this issue will find it comforting that a woman like her also faces this issue. I also think it's great that Angelina shows that there are alternatives to dealing with this issue. I also thought it was fantastic that she pointed out that she doesn't feel less of a woman because of this, but feels empowered for going through with her decision. Kudos, Angelina.

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14-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LagerfeldBoy View Post
It takes a lot of strength for a woman like her in the public eye to be open about such a tough issue and I absolutely commend her wholeheartedly for this op-ed. I'm sure countless of women that face this issue will find it comforting that a woman like her also faces this issue. I also think it's great that Angelina shows that there are alternatives to dealing with this issue. I also thought it was fantastic that she pointed out that she doesn't feel less of a woman because of this, but feels empowered for going through with her decision. Kudos, Angelina.
Totally agree, very brave and an 'eye-opener' for other women in the same position.

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14-05-2013
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Total respect to her for making the tough decision to have the procedure done and using the opportunity to bring light to the issue. Very brave woman.

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14-05-2013
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it's one thing for to be in the public eye but with her status as a celebrity, especially one with such a sexualized profile, makes this even more multi-faceted and hopefully gives women in similar situations more strength.
the decision for a double mastectomy within itself is so courageous. you have to admire her courage in making such a bold decision for the sake of her health and for that of her children's lives. the statistics were fascinating and definitely sheds light on the issue, i had no idea before about the high propensity among gene carriers and what a decision like this involves.

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14-05-2013
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I genuinely applaud her decision to speak out regarding this issue. She's a wonderful woman.

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14-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMyBoots View Post
it's one thing for to be in the public eye but with her status as a celebrity, especially one with such a sexualized profile, makes this even more multi-faceted and hopefully gives women in similar situations more strength.
Well said! There are many women doing this procedures, but with her status it really makes the differences.

So brave!!

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14-05-2013
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This made me tear up when I read it. She is so brave for not ignoring it and speaking about it.

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14-05-2013
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I've read that this procedure is very costly especially for women not of her stature. I don't know how much this procedure costs or whether it's covered by insurance, covered by gov health schemes, or the cost differences in different countries. Anyone have an idea?

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14-05-2013
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I don't know about other countries, but in the UK it would be free.

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14-05-2013
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Very brave and much respect for her and I'd do the same if it was strong in my family.
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14-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tctra View Post
I've read that this procedure is very costly especially for women not of her stature. I don't know how much this procedure costs or whether it's covered by insurance, covered by gov health schemes, or the cost differences in different countries. Anyone have an idea?
In the US, only one company offers the testing and it is expensive (a couple of thousand). Because of this, most doctors will not recommend getting testing unless several members of your family have gotten cancer, or if someone else in your family tested positively for the gene. It's the best money you'll ever spend though. I couldn't think of anything more important.

I took the test because my dad got breast cancer and tested positive for the gene. If your parent tests positive you have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene. BRCA1 and BRCA 2 have slightly different risk rates, but they're both high risk

Unfortunately I tested positive, but I already feel less awful about my plans to eventually get a double mastectomy now that the world's most beautiful woman got one. She's amazing for bringing so much light and strength to this issue.


Last edited by Fabulyss; 14-05-2013 at 08:16 AM.
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14-05-2013
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Having read this, it makes me appreciate and respect her even more!

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14-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabulyss View Post
In the US, only one company offers the testing and it is expensive (a couple of thousand). Because of this, most doctors will not recommend getting testing unless several members of your family have gotten cancer, or if someone else in your family tested positively for the gene. It's the best money you'll ever spend though. I couldn't think of anything more important.

I took the test because my dad got breast cancer and tested positive for the gene. If your parent tests positive you have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene. BRCA1 and BRCA 2 have slightly different risk rates, but they're both high risk

Unfortunately I tested positive, but I already feel less awful about my plans to eventually get a double mastectomy now that the world's most beautiful woman got one. She's amazing for bringing so much light and strength to this issue.
Stay strong! I hope things work out well for you

I think, for a similar reason, this story touched me. Although I haven't gotten tested (reconsidering that notion, definitely on the to-do list), cancer is something that is incredibly common in my family. My grandmother had breast cancer specifically a few years ago and (thankfully) overcame it, but my aunts and my mother have all had scares. I think Angelina is really going to raise awareness on genetic predispositions to cancer and the ways that they can be combated, something that really needed more light shone on it. I love, love the underlying message that she's still strong, still beautiful, and still an icon, despite the surgery - it's such a wonderful message.

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Last edited by Moofins; 14-05-2013 at 11:32 AM.
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