1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi all! No longer will threads be closed after 1000 (ish) messages. We may close if one gets so long to cause an issue and if you would like a thread closed to start a new one after a 1000 posts then just use the "Report Post" function. Enjoy!

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

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by dardar1126, May 14, 2013.

  1. dardar1126

    dardar1126 Well-Known Member

    Which is why I agreed with you. :)

    EDIT: via Twitter...

    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  2. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    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.
    Dr.Siouxs and (deleted member) like this.
  3. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    I don't blame them. Chemo is a bitch. I had a teacher whose beloved wife died from the side effects of chemo. Not from the cancer itself.

    Of course not, but if you had a nearly 90% chance of developing one particular kind of cancer, I would do everything in my power to prevent that. Shit can still happen and she can get another form of cancer, but at least she knows she would have done all she could to prevent the BRCA1-related breast cancer.

    Also, radiation and chemo can be more dangerous than surgery. Both are actually capable of CAUSING secondary tumors. I work in a lab that studies DNA repair, and we use both ionizing radiation and chemo drugs to f*ck up our cells.
  4. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Sorry about your cancer scare. I hope you overcome it.

    Is surgery the only way to prevent a disease? I would look into non-surgical preventative measures first. To me, surgery has always been the last resort. Removing a healthy part of a body does not make a lot of sense to me. If it's a diseased part, certainly I would seriously consider surgery, depending on the advice from medical professionals.
  5. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    So you find it overkill - are you familiar with her medical history? The results of her genetic tests? Are any of us really in a position to fully understand what she went through or know what medical information she was given?

    When the risk is as high as Jolie was told, sometimes you have to consider preventive measures of this sort; it's the same recommendation many women with the BRCA gene are given. Jolie is not considered high risk for other forms of cancer (except ovarian, and she's likely be taking steps to deal with that as well), so her concern is rightly with doing what she can to reduce the extremely high risk of breast cancer that this genetic mutation put her at. I am sure she will be screened for other forms of cancer as per her physicians' recommendation in the future. But her risk of breast cancer was high enough to warrant the consideration of more drastic measures, and AFAIK there is no fully reliable method for early detection of ovarian cancer. She made the choice she felt was best for herself and her family.

    I applaud her decision to do this and to share it, and her experience, with other people. This is an important message.

    Obligatory message: while awareness regarding breast cancer is relatively high and Jolie's essay will undoubtedly help as well, there is often less awareness regarding other types of cancer. Ask your doctor if there are any screenings and tests you should do, and if you're at risk for colorectal cancer or are over the age of 50 and have not yet been tested, get it done.
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  6. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Not with cancer, it isn't. Think of it as already diseased - it just hasn't manifested into a malignant tumor yet. Safe, effective gene therapy on an adult human is probably still decades away.
  7. Jimena

    Jimena Well-Known Member

    That's the thing, Vash. It was a part of her body that had an almost 90% chance of being diseased in the future.
  8. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Here is a balanced article that discusses pros and cons.


    I agree with the writer- here in the USA we want zero risk (or as close to 0 as possible). We have physical bodies. They are going to deteriorate in different ways. Disease, old age, death are realities of life. At some point we have to accept that.
  9. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    While it is true that mammograms are recommended in the US at a younger age than in most countries, preventive mastectomy for women with the BRCA mutation is not limited to the US. This is not about zero risk; it's about reducing an almost certainty of a serious, life-threatening illness to a more manageable risk. The other option for Jolie would be frequent screenings while living with the knowledge that there is a near certainty of getting breast cancer - in which case, the best case scenario is recovery after very difficult treatment (including surgery), and the worst case scenario is dying young like her own mother.

    I am sure this is not what you mean, but if we're all just meant to accept that the sort of health issues you write about are inevitable, why have preventive screenings at all? Why do genetic testing? Why treat certain conditions and certain people aggressively? I don't understand what you're advocating here. Sometimes the best course of action is conservative, but in some cases it's not. Jolie has done nothing groundbreaking, medically speaking; what's unique is that she's using her fame to draw attention to the matter, knowing that people will judge and criticize her decision. That's brave and worthy of admiration.
  10. liv

    liv Well-Known Member

    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...
    Dr.Siouxs and (deleted member) like this.
  11. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

    i dont understand why having reconstructive surgery makes her decision somehow less than others who didnt for some people. i'm not addressing that to you, liv. i have read some comments here and elsewhere today and i've been meaning to ask.
    antmanb and (deleted member) like this.
  12. Sparks

    Sparks Well-Known Member

    Actually, reconstructive surgery is a lot more painful and the recovery time is longer.
    Women are allowed to make their own choices about their bodies without judgement from people who know nothing about their struggle.
    As a BC survivor, I'm telling you that if I had the test and it was positive, I'd get my breasts removed.
  13. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    I know this is a discussion board, but I don't understand any of the negativity re Jolie's decisions and/or her reconstructive surgery. 87% is nearly a certainty. Cancer isn't something that you can necessarily cure -- even if found early. Maybe screening has skewed that view, but not all cancers are created equal. If I was found to have this genetic mutation, I would be first in line to make sure I gave myself the best possible chance of living a long life -- especially if I had children. And reconstructive surgery is a personal decision. If a woman feels it will improve her quality of life, she should do it!!! That's what it's there for!

    I know too many folks who did absolutely everything right as far as screening is concerned, and didn't make it -- my beloved stepdad included (prostate cancer). His PSA never indicated ANY issues. His physicians never felt any irregularities with digital examinations. He had a very aggressive form of cancer that did not respond well to any available treatment (prostatectomy, hormone, chemo).

    Sorry, but waiting for an 87% chance to happen, is just plain stupid when there are viable options to avoid this killer of a disease.

    Kasey and (deleted member) like this.
  14. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    I would agree that surgery is the last resort usually, but she knew she had an extremely high probability of going through surgery and chemo later, and took the course that had less risk for death at a young age, relatively. If I had the same choice to make, I would do the same, no hesitations. Why wait for the inevitable when you can nip it in the bud?

    What she did takes cast iron balls. Very admirable.

    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?
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  15. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    Then would you stop brushing your teeth? Start smoking? Engage in other unhealthy activity? Because her risk of cancer is comparable to a smokers. Yes, we are all going to die but no one wants to die after having gone through surgery chemo and other associated treatments. They are torture.
  16. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

    This is what I thought too after reading her article. Angelina is someone who is extremely famous not just for who she is as a person, but what kind of image she portrays. Women are going to look at her and say, "Well, if Angelina could do that and still be super sexy and not embarrassed and whatnot, why can't I?"
  17. FiveRinger

    FiveRinger Well-Known Member

    I think that what Angelina did was amazing. She 1) took control of her own health and well being and made an educated decision that was best for her and her family and 2) went public with a very private issue that she didn't have to discuss but felt compelled to. It was unbelievably brave on so many levels.

    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?
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  18. Andrushka

    Andrushka Well-Known Member

    I think it was a brave and wise decision on her part.Someone in my family had a similar situation 8 years ago,and she had a double masectomy;also,I myself had a breast cancer scare year before last,making this sort of a decision is something I had to consider and the concept that you might have breast cancer is unbelievably frightening...my results came back good.Thank the Lord.No surgery.
  19. Jimena

    Jimena Well-Known Member

    She mentions that in her article: very few women have access to the genetic testing:

  20. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    There is no logic in your statement. Yes, reducing her chance of getting breast cancer does not mean she cannot get another kind of cancer. But she is highly genetically predisposed to breast cancer and made an informed decision to mitigate that risk.

    If you at look the average likelihood of a person's getting cancer, it is much lower than Jolie's likelihood of getting breast cancer.

    What you seem to be suggesting is that the surgery won't make any difference in Jolie's susceptibility to cancer and that's where you aren't being logical. She has reduced a known cancer threat dramatically, so her overall likelihood of getting cancer will be reduced. Sure, she might get an another cancer at some point in her life. But the likelihood of that has been reduced. Plus, she is far less likely to die from cancer at 56 than her mother did.

    Many people would make the same decision if they had access to necessary funds, resources and supports.
  21. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    In a similar vein, I'm getting my ass to the gym and lifting weights like one of the guys because I don't want to end up like my grandmother did - never walking again after breaking her hip and wasting away for a year completely bedridden. It was horrible to watch her give up like that, believing she was incapable of recovering. My own mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis at 52. Hopefully she'll continue to lead a more active life and not simply give up like her mother did, but already, she has to be very careful about falling. I've already promised her that she insists on staying in bed for more than a week, I'll go to her house and kick her out of it myself. :p

    Will the weightlifting help? I don't know. Maybe it won't - my cousin in medical school is pretty sure I'm screwed no matter what I do because of my genetics. But I'm sure not going to give up and just take it lying down.
  22. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    It was only a chance, not a certainty. Angelina made an individual decision for herself, depending on how she felt about it, and she has the right to. It's hard to say what I would have done if I were in her shoes, but my preference is always to use surgery as the last resort. My concern is that women that don't need it will rush into it just because a celebrity did it.

    I am sure removing one's breasts will make some feel fearless for sometime. What about the next disease and the next and the next?

    I watched an interview of another woman (can't remember her name- today I have been particularly bad about remembering names) on CNN tonight. She already had breast cancer in the initial phase, so that was a completely different situation. It was reasonable for her to consider the double mastectomy (instead of a single one, although I am sure her doctor will advise her of the options available to her), but she was talking as if Angelina had inspired her to do that (I am paraphrasing). If she has breast cancer, she needs to do what her doctor advises her, not what Angelina writes in an article about her own experience. Every situation is different, and I am afraid this could create some gross generalizations and some unnecessary surgeries.
  23. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    I think there is strong evidence suggesting that the weightlifting will in fact help - genetic tendency doesn't have to be a certainty. Plus, the benefits of exercise in general are well documented - and have a huge impact on older people's well-being.
  24. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    IMO a nearly 90% chance isn't really a "chance" anymore. I'm an annoyingly persistent optimist, but I don't buy lotto tickets. :lol:

    Of course one shouldn't just go around removing livers and lungs and pancreases and brains if they find they have a chance of getting cancer in those areas. But you can live without breast tissue, so I think the fear of that kind of escalation is unfounded.
    OliviaPug and (deleted member) like this.
  25. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I don't understand the logic behind the idea that just because one makes a decision to significantly reduce the risk of a specific kind of cancer (90% chance is an extreme likelihood) is somehow a bad decision just because there's a chance she can get another form of cancer. Breast cancer, and maybe ovarian cancer, are two types of cancer that Jolie was in danger of getting had she not taken preventive measures.

    Criticizing her decision for taking these steps just because getting a double mastectomy won't reduce the risk of her getting leukemia or lung cancer, developing other sorts of diseases, or getting hit by a bus tomorrow makes no logical sense what-so-ever. It's like criticizing someone for getting treated for heart disease when they are at a high risk because that doesn't prevent one from getting pneumonia.

    Obviously, people might look into mastectomies more because the social stigma of not having breasts might be lessened with a celebrity making it more ok for it being option, but the idea of removing one's breasts is still a huge deal, and I doubt most doctors and patients will look into this procedure lightly, unless the doctors want to expose themselves to serious malpratice suits.

    Also, Vash01, the article you linked to did not talk specifically to Jolie's case which is that she had a mutated gene that would have most likely led to her developing cancer. The article was written to talk about how women need to be more informed before they made a life-altering decision. The woman the doctor talked about who decided to not get the mastectomy did not have the same mutated gene Jolie had, so their situations are not comparable. The only reason why people are jumping on your comments is because you had pre-judged Jolie's decision without fully understanding what her situation was and you were minimizing the fact that she had a 90% chance of developing the cancer. You then mentioned how it was a bad decision or "unwise" only because she could develop something else. True, she could, but we're dealing with probabilities here, and she decided to get treatment for something that was probably going to happen to her due to her mutated gene and her family history.

    I understand the article was written to make sure women do not prematurely decide to get the procedure done without knowing all of the facts about their condition and consulting health experts in the field, but I find it "overzealous" to think that just because Angelina Jolie did it, it means women everywhere are going to decide to get rid of their breasts if they do not suffer the same condition Jolie suffered from. It's fear-mongering, and it's unfair to women who will hesitate to get mastectomies because they are afraid of "cutting up their bodies" or getting rid of their breasts because society still thinks women should hold on to them for as long as possible due to beauty or feminine aesthetics or social pressures despite what is really best for their health.
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  26. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    As Anita has pointed out, a nearly 90% risk of developing what would likely be a very aggressive form of breast cancer was not an acceptable risk to Jolie, and clearly her doctors felt that this decision was medically sound. Did the woman on CNN have a relatively treatable form of breast cancer? Did she have the genetic mutation that Jolie has? It's not just the risk of getting cancer but what sort of cancer one is at risk of; obviously some are more aggressive and less treatable than others.

    Women who get mastectomies do so because it significantly cuts the risk of breast cancer diagnosis/recurrence. Though hardly the same thing, people also have precancerous moles and problematic skin removed rather than risk melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, or undergo other procedures to reduce their risk of getting cancer. Nobody does it to feel fearless; people who are at high risk for specific cancers - whether due to age, genetic reasons, or because they've had it before - often have to undergo more testing and at an earlier age than the regular population, which is hardly conducive to a feeling of fearlessness.

    It's possible to live without breasts, so those at high risk for breast cancer can take preventive measures - an option that doesn't always exist for people who have high risk of other forms of cancer or illness. Nonetheless, I highly doubt that women will be moved to have unnecessary mastectomies simply because a famous woman had a medically indicated one. More likely it will make women aware of the possibility of genetic tests, and if that's the case, maybe more women will be able to make informed decisions. And if women whose odds of getting cancer are substantially reduced by having a mastectomy see Jolie as a positive example, well, why is that a bad thing? Better to lose your breasts than your life.

    I really don't understand why you are so insistent that Jolie should have taken her chances - and poor chances at that. Why should she play the odds with her own health, risking the high likelihood of getting a type of cancer that may not be treatable?
  27. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

    It's not about the decision being "less" exactly, but i find it mitigates the bravery accolades. hell, i would have the reconstruction too but After having a couple of kids, her breasts probably look better now than before. So while I find her choice admirable, I still think she is an incredibly blessed individual, who lost almost nothing with this decision and gained alot. her life will be just as fabulous as ever. I realize this is not exactly a socially acceptable position but there it is.
  28. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

    I am totally flabbergasted that anyone could think this about someone having a double mastectomoy and reconstructive surgery.
  29. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    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. My reply: then you absolutely did the right thing. Psychological pain/anxiety/worry can compromise the quality of your life. If the surgery can restore your quality of life, and that of your family's - you do what you have to do. I think my neighbor knew she did the right thing, but needed validation from someone other than a loved one.

    My SIL had breast cancer. A small, noninvasive lump. They did a lumpectomy. Two years later, she had cancer in the other breast, a different kind. Though there was no lymph node involvement, she had for a double mastectomy. She also had chemo, radiation, and a hysterectomy. She did everything she could to prevent it from coming back. It was hard time, in her life (and her family's) but she did the right thing. Her sister had breast cancer a few years later. Noninvasive, opted for the lumpectomy. I had hoped, that in light of her sister's recurrence, she would opt for the mastectomy. Neither of them have markers. If I had to make the choice, I would opt for the mastectomy. I would not want to take any chances.
  30. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    Me, too.