That’s a crazy way to wake up in the morning, to find out the one of the most popular actresses on the planet, the wife of Brad Pitt, and the mother of six, has had her breast removed. But once you get past the shock of such news, Jolie’s op-ed in the NYTimes — where she revealed that she received the double mastectomy to prevent a very high likelihood of breast cancer — may move you to tears.
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.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
First off, it’s amazing in this day and age — especially when you’re Angelina Jolie — to be able to maintain the secrecy of the procedure for three months, and second of all: Wow. I commend Jolie for choosing her children, and life over vanity. “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
And with that, awareness of this genetic testing has been raised double or triple-fold. In fact, the first thing I did after reading the piece was to turn to Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate and ask her to get tested, only to find out that it cost around $3,000 to get the testing. Insurance coverage may vary. In either respect, I applaud Jolie’s courage not only to have the procedure done, but to reveal it to the world.