Angelina Jolie has made surgical news once again. In 2013, the actress decided to have a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after finding out she has a gene mutation that increases her risk for breast cancer. Jolie chose to go public with her decision to help bring light to an option other women might want to consider; an option not always presented to them. Jolie, and other women since, figure why live in fear waiting for a possible cancer diagnosis when a more proactive approach can eliminate such fear and bring peace of mind?
With that kind of thinking in mind, Jolie has now gone public to explain why she has recently undergone surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Medical advances have allowed women like Jolie, who come from a family with a history of ovarian cancer, to find out whether or not they have the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene mutation which greatly increases their chances of a dreaded cancer diagnosis.
And yet, despite this knowledge, Jolie comes under attack from people who claim she is an alarmist who will only influence others into having surgeries they do not need. As a man, I say, Good for her!” Jolie is one celebrity who makes a point of being incredibly well informed on any issue she speaks out on, something we do not often get from most her celebrity peers.
In a nation that devotes the entire month of October to raising money and awareness to defeat breast cancer, it makes no sense to question a woman who chooses to make a proactive decision, one I am sure her family appreciates. While there may be more money to be made in research and the actual treatment of cancer, Jolie has provided women with an example of an alternative to having to live life wondering whether or not you may receive a diagnosis all women fear hearing.
Women in our country fought long and hard for the right to be able to choose what to do with their bodies. This fight has usually been framed in the form of abortion arguments. However, the reality is, women have won the right to choose what to do with their bodies in many other ways. Just look at the plastic surgery industry. If a woman is free to choose liposuction, a tummy tuck, face lift, breast augmentation, or botox, why shouldn’t they be allowed to choose to remove body parts if keeping them increases their likelihood of cancer?
If you have ever known someone who has gone through cancer treatment that includes not just surgery, but radiation and chemo as well, then you probably know someone who would have preferred preventative surgery prior to there being a cancer diagnosis. If you know someone who has had to watch their mother or sister die far too early in life from the ravages of ovarian cancer then you probably know someone who wishes preventative surgery had been made available.
There are no guarantees in life and even Angelina Jolie is not promised a cancer free life. There are plenty of other forms of this ugly disease and who is to say she does not eventually get diagnosed with liver, brain, or pancreatic cancer? Still, she can rest at ease and know she does not have to wait for or wonder if she will be diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. That alone has to be a huge relief for her. The information that was made available to Jolie needs to be made available to ALL women. After all, it is their body and they should be allowed to make informed decisions rather than be told they are living on borrowed time after receiving a cancer diagnosis that never had to happen.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.