Why Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Will Inspire You
In an op-ed to the New York Times today, actress, activist, mother, and philanthropist Angelina Jolie explains why she had a preemptive double mastectomy. She writes that she opted to have the invasive surgery after learning she had a genetic predisposition, with an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Jolie's mother died of the same disease at the age of 56, and the actress explains that her decision was made primarily for the sake of her own children—and that she chose to share her story for other women who find themselves in a similar situation:
I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
She then describes the actual process of how they carried out the mastectomy, a surgery that has advanced a great deal over the years. And she describes how she felt after:
It is reassuring that [my children] 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. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.
In internet and tabloid magazines, celebrities are often scrutinized and criticized, with their so-called imperfections splashed across the pages and headlines about weight gains and natural signs of aging. In this case, it does seem fitting that Angelina Jolie has been named the "sexiest woman" and "most beautiful woman" in the world on countless lists. When a celebrity comes to the world with something like this, it should serve as a humbling moment to everyone that feeds into the celebrity gossip machine. Yes, celebrities can be "just like us." And when someone in the public eye does something as fearlessly as this—to share a personal decision so publicly—it can serve as a great inspiration. By offering her insight into the process and thoughtful rationale for why she did it, she is opening up a public dialogue on a subject that could help others facing the same situation.
Photo via (cc) Flickr user Gage Skidmore