Making the Breast Choice

courtesy of nyt

i'm sure you've heard, as most of us did in a very unexpected announcement, angelina jolie had a double mastectomy after discovering she had a rare mutant gene that put her at risk for breast and ovarian cancer. and a pretty large risk at 87%. she wrote an op-ed for the new york times to share the reasoning behind her decision, with the major factor being her children. angie lost her own mother to breast cancer, and didn't want to put her kids through the same ordeal. by having her breast tissue removed, she now has less than a 5% chance of getting breast cancer.

angie's lucky enough that she has the funds and means to go through testing (which costs on average $3,000) to find out if she was pre-disposed to this mutant gene, and to have some of the best doctors to guide her through her decision making. but not everyone has the luxury of getting their genome history to make such life-saving choices. at the same time, the mutant gene that angie discovered affects about 5%-7% of the population, so it's pretty rare.

her decision for a double mastectomy (and even recently giuliana rancic did the same) has gotten women talking about effective measures to save their lives in the face of breast cancer. it's certainly a topic that's in the back of my mind often. my maternal grandmother had breast cancer about 10-15 years ago. my mother hasn't been affected, but as they say, when there's family history, you have to be aware of the possibilities.

i certainly want to make sure i remain healthy, and the thought of finding out that i might one day have breast cancer and would need to get one or both breasts removed is a pretty scary thought. both angie and giuliana got reconstructive surgery, and have noted that they don't feel any less feminine, but would they feel like less of a woman without their breasts? i don't want attention on mine, but i would definitely miss not having them. a scary thought, but one every woman should think about during her lifetime. here's hoping one day we no longer have to worry about breast cancer affecting the amazing women of the world.

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