Yesterday, The New York Times published an opinion piece titled “My Medical Choice,” an article in which Angelina Jolie explained her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after she found out she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer.
The 37-year-old actress couldn’t have made the decision lightly, but after considering her mother’s battle with cancer and death at age 56; her BRCA1 gene; and undoubtedly her own family, Jolie opted for the mastectomy, essentially cutting her risk from 87% to 5%.
During the article, Jolie talks about her mother’s struggle with cancer and how most of her own children will never know their maternal grandmother as anyone other than “Mommy’s mommy.”
She paints a picture of trying to assure her children they have nothing to worry about, even though she knew she carried that “faulty” gene.
Not everyone agrees the drastic surgery was necessary but, given those precious reasons, it’s not all that surprising Jolie chose a proactive approach to dealing with her breast cancer risk.
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.
Naturally, Jolie’s decision garnered praise and (mostly constructive) criticism alike, but most folks applauded both her bravery and honesty, noting (as Jolie herself did in her article) that her openness will help women understand they aren’t alone and they have options.
Angelina certainly wasn’t alone.
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.
Brad Pitt’s seemingly unwavering devotion and support made me think about a therapist I met years ago who specialized in helping people with serious, potentially fatal diseases like diabetes and cancer. I remember thinking, Why would a shrink focus on people with physical illnesses?, but of course the answer is obvious:
These people need someone to talk to, someone to help them during such scary, life-altering events.
Of course, we can all find our own “Brad Pitt” in these situations:
- Family members, friends, and other loved ones.
- Support groups specifically for people battling the illness.
- Therapists who specialize in helping people deal with major physical diseases and changes (such as cancer or diabetes, or, as in Jolie’s case, drastic body augmentations).
Sometimes, we find help in a combination of places; sometimes, all we need are our families and friends.
How about you, readers? Have you ever dealt with a life-changing disease, or taken major surgical steps to prevent one?
Who did you turn to for help? Who provided you with the love and support to make it through?
Story Source: My Medical Choice
Image Source: Georges Biard