Friday, May 17, 2013

It is our choices that show what we truly are...

OK. I've been trying SO hard to not blog about Angelina Jolie and her recent announcement of her double mastectomy. I tried! I know you are rolling your eyes and groaning at this post. I don't blame you. But the news is EVERYWHERE!

I was first tipped off to this news story via c.d. and Twitter. I read Angelina's op-ed piece, "My Medical Choice," in The New York Times and thought "you go girl!" I was proud of her for taking control of her life and also discussing it openly to all of us. Angie and I now have something in common! I would have never imagined that. 

I then knew that the Twitter trolls would be out in full force, so of course I needed to see what the common Twitter folks were saying. Some were giving her props for being so courageous. Then there were the "Angie cut off her boobies?!" tweets, the "she is no longer on my to do list" tweets, and the "I'm offended that she cut off her boobs and is talking about it" tweets. Ugh. Thank you Internet for making everyone so scholarly in the ways of double mastectomies and women's bodies. I expected all of this and it amused me to see others put these trolls in their place. 

Then came the articles, and that's when I couldn't take it any more. Articles written by doctors, nutritionists, news anchors, etc. claiming that Angie self mutilated her body. If only she ate right she wouldn't need to be scared of breast cancer! Double mastectomies are primitive and don't cure breast cancer! She still may get it! She made the wrong decision!

OK! Hold up! How dare anyone tell somebody that they made the wrong decision about their health. First of all, it's none of your damn business! She did what she felt was right for her, her family supported her 100%, and that's all that matters. She watched her mother die from ovarian cancer, she is BRCA 1 positive herself. She did what was right for her and how self righteous you must be to say otherwise or question her decision.

I also find comments like these insulting to the many women who have had double mastectomies. I've never questioned if I did the right thing. Never! I watched as my mother battled breast cancer for 12 years and then pass away from it. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. I then found out I was BRCA 2 positive. It was a no brainer to me. My mom went the lumpectomy / radiation route and in the end it failed her. I am trying something different. Say to me that I maimed myself for no reason. Do it and see what happens. My "don't feed the trolls" rule may not apply.

I don't think anyone who has had to agonize over such a decision actually thinks they are then invincible from breast cancer, or any other cancer for that fact, after their double mastectomy. If anything, it made me more aware of my mortality.

The one thing I do take issue with (and this may be because she was not diagnosed with that dreaded "cancer" word) is Angelina's somewhat blasé approach to the double mastectomy. She said it was pretty easy and she returned back to her normal working life in no time. I know she is probably trying to reassure women that if they are faced with losing their breasts it will all be ok, but it is a tough journey. The pain. The sleepless nights. Missing out on doing just the regular activities you love. The actual scars. The emotional pain. The daily leftover physical aches and pains that linger to this day. It's rough. But if you feel deep down in your heart that you are making the right decision, it WILL be worth it. We are so different and our paths are all unique. What works for one may not work for the other. Don't be afraid to share your story, you just may comfort someone who is starting their journey.

I'm not one bit ashamed of the choice I made. I'm proud. I'll tell anyone who wants to listen. I made the right choice for me and I'm not sorry.

- J.