Whether you are a fan of Angelina Jolie’s or not, her recent steps against falling victim to breast cancer are a bold, brave move toward avoiding the agony her mother endured. Cancer is a disease that robs the patient of more than their health… it takes over their life, steals time, opportunity, peace of mind from them and those who love them. It is a devious, devilish trickster of a disease — a dangerous foe that in many cases we do not cure, but only beat back, and back again.
So if I knew I had a gene mutation that made it more likely I’d suffer a cancer of the breast or ovary, and I had the resources, I’d do as Angelina did — a proactive surgery is far better than reactive treatment.
The risk of cancer from the gene mutation Angelina has varies — 60-87% for breast cancer, 20-54% f or ovarian. High enough numbers to be sure. Jolie says her own personal risk of breast cancer went from 87% to just under 5% post surgery.
There are reports the 37-year-old actress and mother of six plans to undergo another procedure to remove her ovaries. With six kids and a demanding career, I can see why she’d want to be rid of such dangerous organs when it comes to cancer. Because of the BRCA mutation, Angelina carries a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.
Of all the cancers, this one is particularly vile, utterly silent and almost always deadly.
There is a book about cancer titled The Emperor Of All Maladies and I find this title particularly apt when discussing cancers of all types. As a patient, and a family member of someone facing an ongoing battle with cancer, I continue to have the strong sense that generations from now medicine will look back on what we do today and call it barbaric; just as we see leeches and amulets, well-intentioned but clinically rather useless.
It must be such a relief to have the threat of the cancer that took your mother removed. Angelina has children who need her and then there’s Brad Pitt to entertain. For my part, I wonder if the solution the accomplished actress has brought to the public awareness is available to the average woman, to the poor woman?
And maybe I’ve watched just a few too many Twilight Zone episodes, but I can’t help thinking about using medical science to protect yourself from one malady only leaving you to be food for another.