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  1. #61

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    If the benchmark is completely healthy, then no gain. But I am using the benchmark of starting with an 80% chance of getting breast cancer. So the gain is an almost elimination of the risk of getting breast cancer and avoiding the chemo, etc. which other posters have pointed out would be harder than the surgeries. That is a huge gain. And these surgeries - resulted in loss of sensation to be sure - but no loss in appearance (per Brad). So starting from an 80% change of getting breast cancer, yes, this was a net gain for Angelina IMO. And I have had breast surgery so I am not completely unaware of the issues.
    What would Jenny do?

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    Of course it is the right decision and she will gain from it. That's the whole point. But that doesn't mean that, even with her noted bravery, she hasn't had a whole host of anxieties, insecurities, etc., as well as the pain one would expect, etc. You statement came across very callously, and even if they look exactly the same, or even better, that doesn't necessarily make it easy to literally lose a part of yourself. Having reconstructive surgery certainly does not make her decision to have the surgery and to write about it in this way less brave - especially considering that choosing not to have reconstructive surgery would have quite possibly severely damaged her chances of obtaining future roles in a career she obviously loves.

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy View Post
    If the benchmark is completely healthy, then no gain. But I am using the benchmark of starting with an 80% chance of getting breast cancer. So the gain is an almost elimination of the risk of getting breast cancer and avoiding the chemo, etc. which other posters have pointed out would be harder than the surgeries. That is a huge gain. And these surgeries - resulted in loss of sensation to be sure - but no loss in appearance (per Brad). So starting from an 80% change of getting breast cancer, yes, this was a net gain for Angelina IMO. And I have had breast surgery so I am not completely unaware of the issues.
    The reason I'm flabbergasted is not tyhe assertion that there is a lots to gain - of course there is, but rather with your assertion that she had virtually no loss. And I'm still flabbergasted that you think having both breasts removed is no loss

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post
    Disease, old age, death are realities of life. At some point we have to accept that.
    One of the members of my college graduating class (and former dorm RA) passed away from breast cancer last year at the age of 34. I wonder what she would have to say about your crass comment. Likewise my cousin and my boss at work, both are breast cancer survivors.

  5. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    The reason I'm flabbergasted is not tyhe assertion that there is a lots to gain - of course there is, but rather with your assertion that she had virtually no loss. And I'm still flabbergasted that you think having both breasts removed is no loss
    I agree. I think a few people I know who've minimized her experience because she had reconstructive surgery seem to assume the new breasts are interchangeable with Angelina's now removed breasts. Imho, they aren't-- she lost a part of her and replaced it with something that is effectively alien to her body, even if it serves a solid purpose. But it's still a loss.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    I know someone who has the gene, a neighbor. Both her mother and sister died from breast cancer. My neighbor decided to have the double mastectomy (she did not have cancer - yet), this was 15 years ago. It was not as common back then. She got a lot of flack for doing something so radical. She asked me what I thought. My first answer was that it was none of my business. My second was a question: What was her level of anxiety about getting breast cancer and dying? Her answer was - extreme. To the point that it was interfering with her ability to have a normal life.
    This is a good point. For women who know their risk is high, I imagine it's as if you're a walking time cancer-bomb. I can't imagine what that must feel like. So for Vash to tell someone that experiences this, "well, just be hyper vigilant" when it's already a tremendous anxiety just seems coarse.

    My initial reaction was wondering if it was a bit exteme. I didn't know you could so drastically minimize your risk instead of just waiting for it to happen while trying to maintain good health in general. I personally learned something very important from this.
    "How you treat the weak is
    Your true nature calling" -- Jane's Addiction

  6. #66

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    I can't really believe the way this thread has gone. It isn't like Angelina Jolie is telling all women to have double mastectomies. She's advocating for women to take control of their health, and for things like gene testing etc...to me more affordable and readily available, so women can make INFORMED DECISIONS about their health. A double mastectomy was HER informed decision, she's isn't advocating that it's the ONLY decision.
    Team Peeps!

  7. #67
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    I applaud Angelina Jolie.

    I also think it's very fortunate that there are specific actions she can take to mitigate her risk.

    I also lost a parent to cancer (melanoma) in their early 50s. I have decent odds of a genetic mutation that puts me at the same risk, particularly since I've already had two pre-cancerous spots removed. Problem is, there's not a whole lot I can do differently if the test turns out to be positive. And if god forbid I lost my job, I am not sure I could get private health insurance if my medical records expose me as "ticking time bomb." (My understanding is that the GINA only protects you if you're in an employer-sponsored plan, but I could be wrong -- I'm not up to date on this because I've honestly been procrastinating and trying not to think about this for the past three years.) The regulations also don't cover things like life, long-term care, and disability insurance. I'm not unsympathetic to the insurance industry -- they need to make their profit, after all, and they shouldn't have to give me the same rates if I'm a known risk -- but there is some strategic benefit to not knowing since they can't require the test.

    I'm in a conundrum and procrastinating. Would appreciate any advice from anyone who has gone through a similar decision-making process, either here or via PM.

  8. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    I applaud Angelina Jolie.

    I also think it's very fortunate that there are specific actions she can take to mitigate her risk.

    I also lost a parent to cancer (melanoma) in their early 50s. I have decent odds of a genetic mutation that puts me at the same risk, particularly since I've already had two pre-cancerous spots removed. Problem is, there's not a whole lot I can do differently if the test turns out to be positive. And if god forbid I lost my job, I am not sure I could get private health insurance if my medical records expose me as "ticking time bomb." (My understanding is that the GINA only protects you if you're in an employer-sponsored plan, but I could be wrong -- I'm not up to date on this because I've honestly been procrastinating and trying not to think about this for the past three years.) The regulations also don't cover things like life, long-term care, and disability insurance. I'm not unsympathetic to the insurance industry -- they need to make their profit, after all, and they shouldn't have to give me the same rates if I'm a known risk -- but there is some strategic benefit to not knowing since they can't require the test.

    I'm in a conundrum and procrastinating. Would appreciate any advice from anyone who has gone through a similar decision-making process, either here or via PM.
    I'm sorry that you had to go through such a difficult experience and empathize with your dilemma now. My take on it is that testing is worth doing if the results will allow to take proactive steps to lessen your risk of either getting cancer or receiving a late diagnosis - e.g. what Jolie did, or if you're at risk for certain cancers you could get ultrasounds or other tests that you might not be referred to without the testing. If there is no such advantage in getting the testing, it leaves you in a problematic situation in terms of insurance, and only gives you things to worry about - well, in that case I think you are better off not doing it at the time being, but of course you should still do regular screenings and checkups and follow your doctor's advice.

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    I am totally flabbergasted that anyone could think this about someone having a double mastectomoy and reconstructive surgery.
    Me three.

    O-

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy View Post
    If the benchmark is completely healthy, then no gain. But I am using the benchmark of starting with an 80% chance of getting breast cancer. So the gain is an almost elimination of the risk of getting breast cancer and avoiding the chemo, etc. which other posters have pointed out would be harder than the surgeries. That is a huge gain. And these surgeries - resulted in loss of sensation to be sure - but no loss in appearance (per Brad). So starting from an 80% change of getting breast cancer, yes, this was a net gain for Angelina IMO. And I have had breast surgery so I am not completely unaware of the issues.
    As someone who went through a bilateral mast and recon in June of 2008 (on the cusp of five years cancer-free, yeah!) I can assure you there absolutely is a change not only in sensation (lose virtually all) but also appearance (lose the natural "hang") and feeling (not even in the ballpark of softness as natural breast tissue, no jiggle whatsoever). And I had a very successful reconstruction, my oncologist claims its one of the best she's seen (though I always tease that she probably says that to all her patients). Plus AJ had nipple soaring but the nips most likely won't really respond in romantic settings anymore. Then there are the weird phantom electro-shock-like sensations and itching deep within that can't be scratched. Plus the implant is placed over the chest muscle, so when you flex your chest muscle the implant actually scrunches up. You also have to limit your weight training so as not to distort the implant. And the implants have to be replaced every ten years or so for the rest of your life. Thats guaranteed surgery every decade or so. Don't let anyone kid you on the physical and emotional impact of going under the knife. There is also the risk of infection, implant failure, etc. Kudos to Angelina for putting it all in perspective but an implant is definitely not a perfect replacement.

    Still worth it to reduce lifetime risk of bc from 87% to 5%? Sure. But definitely no small thing.
    "Marge, if you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I'm just going to have to stop doing stupid things!" - Homer Simpson in the Mr. Plow episode

  11. #71

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    ^^^
    Add me to the list of people confused by Vash's post..

    Both procedures are major surgery.

    Earlier today AJ announced that she would have her ovaries removed, as well.
    She delayed it because the reconstructive surgery was the most complex of the procedures.

  12. #72
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    I've been wondering about that since her mother died of ovarian cancer, not breast. That means hormone replacement. Speedy recovery.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  13. #73
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    The higher risk was for breast cancer, which is probably why she went that route first. Either way, it all sounds very hellish, and I wish her the best.

  14. #74
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    Well, it's a difference of a few months and is insignificant. Surgical menopause, OTOH, is no fun.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  15. #75
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    Rock on to everyone who's survived cancer!

    Quote Originally Posted by Andora View Post
    This is a good point. For women who know their risk is high, I imagine it's as if you're a walking time cancer-bomb. I can't imagine what that must feel like. So for Vash to tell someone that experiences this, "well, just be hyper vigilant" when it's already a tremendous anxiety just seems coarse.
    Also, not sure if this has occurred to anyone else, but mammograms use radiation. A very small amount compared to chest X-rays, to be sure, but when you're already at nearly 90% chance of getting cancer, it certainly doesn't help. That's why some doctors/scientists suggest women with no risks get mammograms later in life, and less frequently. Frequent screenings can do more harm than good in people who have a normal/low chance to begin with. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't. Can't get everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    I applaud Angelina Jolie.

    I also think it's very fortunate that there are specific actions she can take to mitigate her risk.

    I also lost a parent to cancer (melanoma) in their early 50s. I have decent odds of a genetic mutation that puts me at the same risk, particularly since I've already had two pre-cancerous spots removed. Problem is, there's not a whole lot I can do differently if the test turns out to be positive. And if god forbid I lost my job, I am not sure I could get private health insurance if my medical records expose me as "ticking time bomb." (My understanding is that the GINA only protects you if you're in an employer-sponsored plan, but I could be wrong -- I'm not up to date on this because I've honestly been procrastinating and trying not to think about this for the past three years.) The regulations also don't cover things like life, long-term care, and disability insurance. I'm not unsympathetic to the insurance industry -- they need to make their profit, after all, and they shouldn't have to give me the same rates if I'm a known risk -- but there is some strategic benefit to not knowing since they can't require the test.

    I'm in a conundrum and procrastinating. Would appreciate any advice from anyone who has gone through a similar decision-making process, either here or via PM.
    One of my friends is in the same conundrum. She's already had melanoma that spread to her ovaries, and fought it successfully. Every so often, she needs another precancerous mole removed. You're right that there's not a whole lot you can do about melanoma prevention (aside from slathering on that sunscreen and staying inside!), so as long as you are vigilant about moles, I honestly don't think it makes a difference in whether you get tested or not. Especially if it might show up on and affect your insurance.

    Aforementioned friend is in a bind, not ever being financially stable even in her mid-30s, and has consistently chosen life paths/jobs that would guarantee her health insurance. It's the only thing that's keeping her going - she can't lose her health insurance. It's not a fun situation to be trapped in.

  16. #76

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    Angelina Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy...read her brave essay

    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    Your 'logic' seems to be saying that since this surgery, which dramatically reduced her risk of two specific and deadly types of cancer from over 80% and over 50% to less than 5%, won't also magically reduce her risk of getting every single other cancer on the planet, which she is not specifically at risk for, she therefore should not have gotten the surgery.

    That makes no sense at all.
    It's called "slippery slope" and is indeed a logical fallacy.
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

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    Louis, I know someone with Lynch Syndrome. Colon cancer at 22. She does have pretty good insurance coverage, and they cover all of the treatments an tests. She needs colonoscopies every 4 months, uterine biopsies every 6 months, and a few more, they fought it, but cover it.

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    I also lost a parent to cancer (melanoma) in their early 50s. I have decent odds of a genetic mutation that puts me at the same risk, particularly since I've already had two pre-cancerous spots removed. Problem is, there's not a whole lot I can do differently if the test turns out to be positive. And if god forbid I lost my job, I am not sure I could get private health insurance if my medical records expose me as "ticking time bomb." (My understanding is that the GINA only protects you if you're in an employer-sponsored plan, but I could be wrong -- I'm not up to date on this because I've honestly been procrastinating and trying not to think about this for the past three years.) The regulations also don't cover things like life, long-term care, and disability insurance. I'm not unsympathetic to the insurance industry -- they need to make their profit, after all, and they shouldn't have to give me the same rates if I'm a known risk -- but there is some strategic benefit to not knowing since they can't require the test.
    Large groups which are or used to be 50+ employees waive the pre-ex clause. Pre-ex is two years, meaning that the pre existing condition is not covered for that time frame, but other coverages apply. If you work for a small group and god forbid get a positive diagnosis, you are out of the pre-ex window if it's been two years, of course. If you were to lose your job and are in treatment, Cobra has to cover you. That theoretically should give you enough of a window to get a clean bill of health, and worst case scenario, you would have to go through 2 years of pre-ex should you obtain employment with a small group again. Please don't put this off, where there's a will, there is a way.

    I know a few people with health problems who work for major corporations doing phone sales in call centers. The work is difficult, but it can pay well, the benefits are great, and it's fairly easy to get hired. No pre ex. It's not a perfect solution, but if you were to find yourself in a bind job wise, it is a way to be able to obtain good and affordable coverage.

  19. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    I am totally flabbergasted that anyone could think this about someone having a double mastectomoy and reconstructive surgery.
    Maybe Snoopy was comparing Jolie to non-wealthy celebrities when she said 'lost almost nothing'. It is true that Jolie lost her breasts, which is a whole lot of something, and had to endure the ordeal of going through the surgery and recovering from it, which would the case for any woman.

    But the cost to an average woman would be a lot more in terms of time, dollars, and possibly stress. Jolie doesn't have to worry about income lost due to the cost of the surgeries; about having to take time off from work and the associated loss of income and possible job loss, and; and about getting someone to take care of her children and household while she recovers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holley Calmes View Post
    Cancer is such an emotional, scary, unsettling thing. Since my own brush with it, I have met so many other people who have experienced terrible trials and tribulations with it...and they're still alive! It is wonderful what can be done these days.

    However, I did want to throw my opinion in the ring based on just what happened to me. I had a DCIS and had a lumpectomy for it. Prior to this lumpectomy, I had had an MRI and ultrasound as well as further diagnostic mammograms so the surgeon could get a good look at what was going on. However, the first lumpectomy found not only the DCIS but a stage 1, 1cm invasive tumor "hiding" behind the DCIS. My point is that all those tests and being vigilant and careful did not show the invasive tumor. It was a surprise to everyone, especially me! I feel very lucky, blessed, etc etc of course, but all the vigilance in the world wouldn't have saved me if that had not been found in a timely manner-by accident.
    My sister had DCIS the first time at 45 (lumpectomy & radiation--NOT a fun spring/summer for her). The next year, she got it again, in spite of the radiation. She wasn't eligible for more radiation, and ineligible for chemo. She opted for a double mastectomy, no reconstruction for the reasons many folks have detailed (painful, expensive, repeated surgeries needed). She didn't want to spend the rest of her life worrying. She'd also gone through puberty early and had my nephew after age 35, two other risk factors not in her favor. (She opted against spending $3K for testing.)
    Quote Originally Posted by liv View Post
    I say great for her.

    I'm sure a lot of women get flack for considering this, are probably put under immense pressure not to do this...so a huge star, known for her sex appeal and beauty admitting to this, at a young age, will make it so much easier for other younger women to do if they need to. No one will be able to tell a woman that her sex appeal will be gone after having it done, after seeing that there really is nothing different about Angelina. Knowing your mother died young, knowing that you are most definitely going to get it, well, breasts are not that important compared to being around for your children and family. Good for her for shining more light on this type of situation.... and yes, i know she had reconstruction which makes it different compared to many others...
    Quote Originally Posted by leesaleesa View Post
    I find that curious too, in this day when the advances in cosmetic surgery are so amazing. There is no need for a woman to not have reconstructive surgery after mastectomy, unless she chooses not to. My co worker had a double mastectomy and reconstructive work and insurance covered it, so why ever would Angelina Jolie, who is well off, not do the same?
    Reconstruction is often very painful and time consuming. It usually means repeated procedures, a great chance of complications, and replacing those implants down the road, several times.

    Quote Originally Posted by FiveRinger View Post
    My concern is that there are so many women who do not have access to the kind of care Angelina got. How many people will fight with their insurance companies about coverage for testing? I saw on television this morning that all won't cover it and it costs thousands. What about the ones who don't have coverage at all? Testing only saves lives when you have access to it. Isn't this considered preventive medicine?
    THIS. Genetic testing isn't covered, but mammograms are. Even with that--it's a struggle for anyone under a certain income level to get a mammogram at all, given time off work, scheduling around multiple jobs & kids' & spouses' schedules, not to mention transportation. It shouldn't be this way, but it is.
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