First of all, what I’m about to say is not any sort of anti-Angelina Jolie diatribe, don’t know the woman personally. Nor is it a biting, hard-hitting treatise on celebrity worship by society and the media. There are elements in the blog, but they’re there to make a point about common sense and allowing fear to get the best of you. So here we go….
I have definite opinions on what Angelina Jolie decided to do about the fact that she found out she was at a high risk of contracting breast as well as ovarian cancer. Though I’m not quite in agreement with the choices she made, I absolutely feel she had the right to do what she thought was best for her and her family. That being said, what is more troubling is the idea that we can somehow get these genetic tests, consult with doctors, have the surgeries (provided you can afford the entire process, including reconstruction) and all will be well in your life forever. Somehow, you’ve become cancer-proof.
WRONG! Angelina Jolie has the means to consult with the best doctors in the world. She can take off from her acting, recuperate and then get breast reconstruction. But what people fail to realize is that reconstruction is considered by most insurance companies as a cosmetic procedure and they are hard-pressed to pay for it. Then there’s the invincibility factor–have the surgery and you’ll never have to worry about cancer again. Never-mind that there are many other forms of cancer you can still be diagnosed with. And some, you may not have a family history of.
This sets many women up to have a false sense of security. And where does it end? Melissa Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor said on People.com and The Huffington Post that she felt (and I’m paraphrasing) Angelina’s decision was made in fear. She also felt that maybe she should have just waited for a while because she doesn’t have cancer. Innocent statement…well not to Angelina fanatics. They’ve ripped into Etheridge as if she stole something. How dare she say anything against their goddess because well, it’s Angelina Jolie.
Many of us have been personally affected by cancer, either ourselves battling the disease, a colleague, a friend or family member. Yes cancer is an extremely scary disease. Yes it does kill thousands and thousands of people everyday somewhere in the world. But there are some cancers, if caught in their early stages, that are curable and you can go on to live a long happy life. Even in the worst case scenario and you’re diagnosed with one of the hard to treat ones in its advanced stages, I am a firm believer that if it’s not your time, you’re not going anywhere.
The celebrity of Jolie has set a terrible precedence and this is why. Most people can’t afford those procedures nor do they have insurance. Nothing in life makes any one of us immune to disease, not even some high-profile celebrity. And, with all the genetic testing that is at our fingertips and some out there on the horizon, are we heading in the direction of being a society that believes in unnecessary, major surgical procedures instead of just taking a wait and see attitude if you don’t have the disease yet? What Jolie went through was indeed major surgery. Yes I understand that her mother and aunt died of the disease. I also understand that she wants to live to see her six children become adults. But what Ms. Jolie and many of those who are contemplating having the procedure is completely glossing over, is that at any given time, a person can leave their home and get hit by a bus, a car, have some freak accident, die of some undiagnosed illness they didn’t know they had or just simply die of natural causes. We are not designed to live forever and no matter what you do, we have a definitive amount of time on our life clocks and when that time is up, we move on.
I am by no means saying that people don’t have a right to do with their bodies what they will, but what is extraordinarily disturbing is when women look to these celebrities, pop doctors and various other health gurus as their beacons of extended or eternal life. That misguided mindset could have them feeling as if they’re little bullet-proof superwomen, which in my opinion, is more dangerous than the diseases they’re trying to prevent.
Melissa Etheridge Calls Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy A ‘Fearful’ Choice
Posted: 06/18/2013 8:48 am EDT | Updated: 06/18/2013 12:01 pm EDT
At least one person doesn’t agree with Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year. Melissa Etheridge, who beat breast cancer in 2005, told the Washington Blade newspaper that Jolie — whose doctors warned her of an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer — acted out of fear rather than bravery.
The two-time Grammy winner, 52, said she suffered from the same gene mutation that Jolie claimed to have, but that she would have reacted differently. An excerpt from her interview is below:
“I wouldn’t call it the brave choice. I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer. My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels. I’ve been cancer free for nine years now and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer. There was so much acidity in everything.”
The comments are similar to ones that Etheridge made to Shape magazine about being cancer-free. “Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore. I now have a different relationship with fear. There are only two things in our reality, love and fear. I try to make choices out of love,” she said.
When asked about Etheridge’s comments Monday while promoting his new movie, “World War Z,” Jolie’s husband, Brad Pitt, said he hadn’t yet formulated his thoughts. “I don’t know. Somebody just said that,” he told Us Weekly. “Melissa’s an old friend of mine. I’m sure we’ll talk over the phone. I don’t know what it is.”