Heroic: This is how Brad Pitt describes the radical move of Angelina Jolie when she underwent an elective, preventive double Mastectomy and breast reconstruction after a mutation of BRCA1 is found in her genes. Although the 37 year old actress have a healthy breast and without cancer diagnosis, she opted to pre-empt the spread of the cancer cells. This major decision is highly influenced from the past when her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56.
It’s a brave step to openly share what she have undergone . “It has to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment. Whatever their means and background, wherever they live.”, she said in her essay she wrote at New York Times. She further added that, “ I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they too will get their gene tested and they will know that they have strong option too.” This move is also backed up by research and studies.
Jolie, a humanitarian , started her three month stage long process of surgery in February 16 at the Pink Lotus Breast Center at Beverly Hills under the co founder Andy Funk and his wife,Breast Surgeon Kristi Funk. In all, she underwent three surgical operations until April 27, 2013.
After the surgery, risks of getting the disease reduced from 87% to 5%.
WHAT IS BRCA1 AND BRCA2:
This stands for Breast Cancer Susceptibility Gene. These genes are part of a class know tumor suppressors. This will help the CA cells from accumulating mutations and growing abnormally.
THE COST AND INSURANCE:
It is said that genetic testing alone is about $3,000.00 or more which may be the hindrance of why some women will not entertain this very delicate procedure. Although insurance companies may be able to cover it but it varies in coverage and other criteria but they always ended up cashing out a large portion of their budget. Although there are Breast Centers, like the Pink Lotus Breast Center, which offers free screening, diagnosis, surgery and post surgery treatment to those who are uninsured, underprivileged and those who are unable to pay their breast care.
It is carefully advised that women should know their cancer family history then follows the benefit of genetic counseling and genetic test.
Statistics have it that preventive mastectomies doubled from 1998 to 2005,as based on Hollywood celebrities who obviously can afford this sensitive procedure like Cristina Applegate. There are about 232,000 who have been diagnosed of BRCA and about 40,000 die every year.
ALL FOR THE FAMILY:
Brad Pitt has been very loving and supportive of Jolie’s decision, as he said, “ All I want is for her to have a long life and a healthy life.”
All of her six children, three biological and three adopted, were told that, “they don’t need to fear that they will lose me from breast cancer.”
What Jolie have done is a laudable act of bravery as she is also, “grateful of the outpouring support from the public”.
It is said that four days after surgery, this award winner actress went back to work to shoot the World War II, “ Unbroken”.
Written By: Anthony P Derayunan