Monday, June 3, 2013

Let's talk about it...

Angelina Jolie made a very hard decision. From what I've read Angelina did not have breast cancer, but knew she had the gene. She also watched her mom and aunt battle (and die) from this disease. Angelina has 5 kids. This isn't about celebrity. This is about a mother who loves her children, a mother who wants to do everything she can to be around to see her children grow up.

Angelina could have tried to keep her decision secret. She could have tried to hide her surgery, but with her celebrity status that might have been difficult to do. So she made the choice to come forward and tell the world. Preventive bilateral mastectomy is not for everyone. It's a totally individual choice. It's a major surgery with risks involved. The healing process and reconstruction surgery are not easy. There are many things you give up - the ability to breastfeed, sensation and normal appearance among several others.

This is by far not the only person, or even the only celebrity to face these decisions. Christina Applegate went through this several years ago, Sharon Osborne more recently, and multitudes of other women make decisions regarding their breast health every day. Bilateral Mastectomy is not the only option. If you find you are positive for this gene, you can choose to be watched very closely by your doctors to detect issues very early on, if they develop. Early detection is VERY important.

This world lost Jean Stapelton, age 90, to natural causes this week. I wrote a blog a couple of years ago about Edith Bunker, and the first primetime breast lump. Back in the 50s, 60s and even 70s people typically didn't talk openly about their breast cancer risks or surgeries. I am very glad those days are behind us. It's an important subject, and not one to take lightly. 

Thank you Angelina, Christina, Sharon and others for sharing your story with the world. By sharing your very personal story you have increased the exposure to this disease and very possibly saved lives.

Rest in peace, Jean - thank you for being a wonderful actress and also a pioneer in this conversation.