You’ve probably already read Angelina Jolie’s most recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, and if you haven’t read it then you’ve definitely heard about it. It was a big hit across all the major media outlets and why wouldn’t it be? Her decision to have a bilateral mastectomy is still a relatively hot topic, so the follow-up, a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (otherwise known as removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes) serves another voyeuristic look into the very vulnerable, personal life a major celebrity. However, unlike Twitter and Instagram, which give a mostly superficial look at the lives of celebrities, Angelina’s Op-Ed provided an unflinching and unapologetic look at choices she’s made to take her life into her own hands.
And yet, despite the fact that she is putting herself out there, sharing her story, advocating for others to make educated choices that fit their lifestyle, with nothing to gain for opening herself up, people still have dissenting opinions (on her personal choice that only impacts her) and no problem voicing them:
So I get it, opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, and I can appreciate that and I understand that the decision to undergo a prophylactic surgery is polarizing. However. However. I had to stop reading through the comments on the New York Times because it was just so frustrating and aggravating. Even depressing. Angelina, like every other woman or man who carries the mutation, made a decision for herself. Her Op-Eds have only ever advocated that everyone make the decision that’s best for them and that’s not always going to be surgery. In fact, I think she makes quite the effort to point out that she has examined her options and utilized Western and Eastern medicines. The commenters, the negative commenters, don’t seem to take into account how much thought goes into every facet of how to proceed once you’ve been given this knowledge.
“It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power.” – Angelina Jolie
And this is why the BRCA community needs her voice to call attention to BRCA mutations, because she has a voice that people will listen to even if the understanding and empathy isn’t on their radar. Mindy Kaling linked the article on her Instagram and noted how important it was to her to disseminate the article because the majority of her followers are women. Kelly Osbourne has now stepped out to say that she, too, is a BRCA mutant.
Even if it’s only for a week, right now BRCA is on everyone’s radar. And it’s great, it makes my heart swell with pride for the people struggling through finding their identity again after a mastectomy or navigating the waters of surgical menopause. I love seeing new people appear from the woodwork, sharing their mutant status, sharing their stories. We are a community that relies on each other for support during the downs and provides support during the ups. We are small, but we are mighty. And I am grateful that Angelina made us mainstream and started a conversation 2 years ago. I don’t know if she’ll share anymore about her journey, but if she doesn’t, we’ll keep the conversation going.
P.S. bmarquez in Denver – it is brave. Another definition of the word brave is “showing courage” and these surgeries are courageous. They are not physically, emotionally, or mentally easy, and to tackle them with the grace and aplomb that Angelina and many others have, is courageous. Bye.