Angelina Jolie Uses Fame To Call Attention To A Horrible Disease


Although never a big fan of Angelina Jolie, she has won me over by her bravery in exposing something very personal.  There’s no question that Jolie and Brad Pitt are one of the most famous couples on earth; perhaps as famous and revered as Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton.  So for her to talk about something as personal as a double mastectomy, really gives this disease the visibility it deserves.  As it turns out, Jolie’s mother died from breast cancer after a ten-year fight, at the age of fifty-six.  She revealed her surgery in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.  In it she says, “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.”  The 37-year-old actress continues, “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.”  We should applaud her for bringing this to the forefront as there are so many women like her, who are at increased risk for developing the disease.  She is now an ambassador for the illness and serves as a reminder to not only know your family risk and to take it seriously, but to get regular mammograms.  Depending on one’s risk for the disease, mammograms should begin as early as thirty-five.  Jolie also discusses her odds of contracting the disease, which made her decision almost a “no-brainer”.  “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.”  Given those odds, she had very little choice if she was to save her life and see her children live to adulthood.  But one other issue I want to raise.  Doctors must do more to find a cure for this horrible disease.  Removing a women’s breasts, is not a cure.  It’s simply the only way doctors know who to deal with this.  AIDS for example is only around since the early 1980’s and doctors have already made greater strides in a disease that was always fatal early on, to a point where there may be a cure and or prevention in the not too distant future.  Breast cancer, which has essentially existed forever, is still striking down women in alarming numbers.  Hopefully, Jolie’s voice will speak volumes in this ongoing fight against this horrible disease.

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