“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.” – Angelina Jolie to the New York Times
Angelina Jolie, namely the world’s sexiest woman, decided to undergo bilateral mastectomies due to having the BRCA1 gene which she inherited from her late mother.
In an article for the New York Times entitled “My Medical Choice”, Angelina described every single detail about the medical process which took place at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre. Her aim was sharing the experience with women who are afraid of this deadly illness, promoting the BRCA test for those who are not familiar with it yet. She said “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.”
The BRCA1 gene increases the risks of having breast cancer and ovarian cancer among women. Estimated to have an 87 percent of the former and 50 percent of the latter, Angelina decided to prevent cancer by doing a complex double mastectomy which procedures lasted for 3 months. The surgery successfully decreased the hazard of having cancer from 87 percent to less than 5 percent.
Sharing the experience with the world in interest was Angelina’s way to assure to women like her that having a mastectomy will not lessen their femininity. On the contrary, it would strengthen them as women and mothers in a society where most are still living on the residue of patriarchy. She said “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.”
Angelina acknowledged her partner’s supportive approach to the situation stating that every woman is in need of that kind of emotional support from her male partner. Brad Pitt described Angelina’s decision as “absolutely heroic”. Angelina described her fiancé as “so loving and supportive”. The critical health situation seemed to bring the couple closer than ever before.
Angelina’s Op- Ed article was targeted to women with family history of breast or ovarian cancer who have chosen to ignore the risks and remain silent. In fact, Angelina’s number one aim was raising awareness among these women who should be brave enough to make a similar decision and become cancer free.
However, some doctors are worried that Angelina’s decision would become more like a tendency followed by other women with no medical history of cancer who would misinterpret the confession and do the double mastectomy anyway.
Two weeks after Angelina’s announcement, Swedish artist Johan Andersson painted her a topless portrait which, he said, was inspired by his mother’s battle with breast cancer. The post- double mastectomy portrait is to be exhibited in a Los Angeles art gallery with an estimated price of 20 thousand dollars.