Off With Your Boobs!

So all over the news is Angelina Jolie and how she lopped of her boobs to prevent cancer. Which she doesn’t have. Wait what? Back that train up…. She doesn’t have cancer so she decided to have a double mastectomy in case she might get it? She has the gene which makes her predisposed to it but that doesn’t mean she’ll get it. Baby is on the crazy train!

Now before you get all yelly. I applaud her guts and determination and all those other things that must have swayed her decision BUT is this insane? Why would you mutilate a perfectly healthy body on the off chance you might get cancer? It’s not even certain she will.Predictions can be wrong.

My concern with this going public is that so many women will think that doing what Angelina has done is a good idea. The gene has been identified but not every woman who has the gene develops breast cancer, so why not treat that gene. Surely science can advance to do that. Why would you mutilate your body just in case? Men don’t whip off their balls for fear of getting testicular cancer so why are women being told to do this? Where will it end? Are we going to give ourselves preventative frontal lobotomies just incase we get depression because our families are predisposed to it?  I know there are preventative measures for all sorts of things and for some women this is a piece of mind thing and for others the risk is so great they really believe that doing this will stop them getting cancer but for someone so high profile to come out and admit to doing it, it saddens me. You watch double mastectomies increase, you watch women have copycat surgeries just because Angelina did. Because some people are that stupid.

The worse part…. it’s not even always a fix!  There were interviews of other women who’d done this, for the same reason and now have ovarian cancer.  Last night an interview aired with Angelina saying she is taking out her ovaries next because her mother died of ovarian cancer. I am sad for her. I’m sad that medicine has gone so far down the crazy train tunnel that we’re cutting off our noses to spite our faces. I hope beyond hope her decisions are right for her and she doesn’t go through all this trauma for nought but I worry that as women we are getting the wrong kind of care, and that the mutilation will continue.

Comments 18

  1. I haven’t written about this one yet because so many other bloggers are doing a better job at it than I would. I’m firmly in the “not a fan of Angelina generally” club, so I question my objectivity, and this story has me super conflicted. I know a woman who just had a double (and has the BRCA gene) because she HAS cancer. I get the whole point of taking responsibility for your body and making medical decisions and all that….BUT she is rich. She doesn’t have to worry about whether her insurance will over BRCA testing, or if the results will alter her care in the future. She doesn’t have to worry about paying for the best reconstruction surgeons in the universe (oh, yeah…because she is rich). Not every insurance company pays for the testing, and not every woman in the world has access to the best surgeons in the world. Plus, you are correct. The gene doesn’t guarantee cancer, and removal doesn’t guarantee she will avoid it. This could prompt women to volunteer for drastic surgeries. Now that I’ve written a novel, I’ll get off my soapbox.

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      OH Wise One, I’m so glad you came! I think it’s too much and being the celebrity that she is it could do more harm than good. Certainly, have the procedure if you know it will help, like your friend but it’s so, so drastic and invasive. It’s a tough topic you’re right but this post just fell out of my fingers… sometimes they do 😉 Thanks for reading.

      1. I HOPE that she uses her fame and influence to push for insurance coverage of the testing and reconstructive surgeries for all women. (not to say anything about all the women without insurance at all, which is a whole different issue) I also hope that it doesn’t push women into a false sense of security with the surgery and encourage those who wouldn’t otherwise consider it to do so. See? Conflicted.

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  2. I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I am not a fan of Jolie, but I really respect the decision she made. By having the mastectomies done, she reduced her chances of getting breast cancer from 87% down to 5%. I think those odds make a pretty strong argument for the surgery. Carrying the BRCA1 gene mutation she still has a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer. That’s pretty scary. She has 6 kids – I am sure this had something to do with her decision. I would probably do anything to make sure I was going to be around for them.

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      And that is a very valid point. My concern is that the average person doesn’t have her resources and as usual the media blows it out of proportion. Not to even begin to discuss whether insurance would cover it or how the uninsured would access it if they carried that gene. Thank you for your thought provoking comment.

  3. I agree that it was drastic and not everyone has the resources that she does.
    However, must point out a blip in your post: you cannot treat a gene; science has not come to that stage yet and I doubt that we will in the near future (says the girl who was in cancer research not too long ago)

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  4. I agree with you completely. If I’m not mistaken, there was also a beauty queen (Miss America or something) that did the same thing. My mom had breast cancer that was, thankfully, caught very early and treated with a lumpectomy and radiation only – no mastectomy. Now, however, she gets a mammogram every 6 months rather than once a year. It seems someone with this gene could do the same – especially when money is no issue – just get checked every 3-6 months so that IF you get cancer, you can deal with it pretty simply.

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  5. OMG. This is SO good! Only NOW, I have to go write a rebuttal because even though I’d rather leave it as a comment…it would take up too much real estate in your comments. I can ramble. We’ve met. Yes?

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  6. Wait . . . she had boobs? 😉

    In all seriousness though this is wonky. But what do you expect from her? She used to carry a vial of her husband’s blood around. Had velcro walls in her house. The woman is nuts.

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