Angelina Jolie could have said nothing. When inevitable rumors circulated about her “secret medical tragedy,” she could show off that same luminous skin and ample cleavage and voluptuous silhouette we know so well — and dismiss all rumors as tabloid trash. Few would know for sure.
Instead, yesterday, Jolie went public. She risked her career in a business that’s all about sex and beauty. She chose her children and a better chance for a long life over whatever damage the truth may do to her status as international sex goddess with those impossibly pouty lips and impossibly perfect, ample breasts.
Yesterday, Angelina Jolie told the world that those breasts are gone. She said she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carried a so-called “faulty” gene that increased her risk of breast cancer to 87 percent.
“I am writing about this now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie, who lost her own mother to breast cancer when she was 56. “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
Before this, Jolie struck me as a gorgeous, wacky though probably sincere humanitarian with a very pretty partner, Brad Pitt. Considering their six kids, I thought it might be nice if they got married.
Now I’ve come to regard her as an extraordinarily courageous and generous woman who’s done for women facing this still rare, preventative procedure what Betty Ford, a widely beloved first lady, did for female alcoholics two generations ago. That is, remove much of the shame, stigma and ignorance.
Preventive mastectomies remain widely misunderstood. Some consider them extreme, even crazy and barbaric. There are women who undergo them but never tell, Dana Farber psychologist Sharon Bober told me, because they may not get the support given women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and then, in too familiar fashion, consider their options.
But Jolie’s straightforward announcement, with no hint of self-pity, will bring new understanding to a seldom-discussed medical choice. And her insistence that she is no less a woman — without those world-famous breasts — is nothing short of wonderful.
“I feel empowered,” she wrote, “that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
To women who are facing breast cancer, to women who have survived it, to women who fear it — which includes just about all of us — Angelina Jolie, of all people, has given a great and glorious gift.
Source: Boston Herald