When I saw Angelina Jolie’s op-ed piece in the NY Times last week on her preventive double mastectomy, I applauded her. And then I admired her bravery and willingness to go public with a very private, personal decision.
Last year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since her two younger siblings died of cancer, and her older sibling survived a bout with cancer, she decided to be genetically tested. Unfortunately, she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. We have talked several times about what she might have done differently in her 30s and 40s if she had had this information; it’s very likely she might have done something preventive, given her family history.
I love what Jolie said in the article:
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.
For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
Armed with the knowledge that my family now carries the BRCA1 gene, I decided to be genetically tested last summer. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but my husband and I talked through several options of what we would and should do if my test came back positive. I had prepared myself for the possibility of preventive surgery as one of my options. Thankfully, my test came back negative. Even so, I remain vigilant about my own health.
I’m happy to say that my mother has made a full recovery, using both holistic and conventional medicine. Her oncologist officially declared her in remission two weeks ago.
Would you consider preventive surgery as an option? How do you feel about genetic testing?