Just read the post Angelina made today in New York times and I'm both shocked and in awe:
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
What do you think of her decision? Do you approve / disapprove?
Do you know anyone in person who performed a similar preventive surgery?
I was annoyed that Angelina Jolie announced this to the media at first, because I feel like she is such an attention *****, and this is just another way for people to say "wow, what a great person she is". Then I started thinking that maybe there are some people out there that don't know about the BRAC test yet, and this can help them to become aware...BUT I don't know if a mastectomy and reconstruction would be covered by insurance if there is no cancer present...so it was a nice gesture to educate the masses, but I don't know that everyone can afford major surgery plus major plastic surgery as a preventative measure.
I can only imagine how much this surgery would be, with the consults, pre-op labs, overnight stay in hospital, follow ups, and repeat that for the reconstructive stage. I would guess it would cost over $100K out of pocket. For Angelina Jolie, I am sure it would have been close to half million, due to best doctors, best hospitals, security, private nurses for recovery, etc....and she didn't have to worry about who was looking after her kids or if she was going to lose her job due to the time off, etc. As you can tell, I am conflicted on this...thanks for the heads up Angie, even though most of us already heard about people doing this in the news. That's great that you did that, but most of us probably wouldn't be able to pull that off.
first i was blown away. wow!!! then i sat back and thought. went online and started scratching under the surface. didnt like what i saw.
in the end i feel this is not such a great thing. coz this is an expression of privilege. just like pp pointed out i thought how many of us on mothering can even afford to do it - if we so choose. now if that procedure was available to all - then right on. yeah i would support her.
but only the rich can afford this.
but there is another factor. corporation? i came across this article http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/14/angelina-jolie-under-the-knife/
then there is NPR which shows another side http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/05/15/184166941/angelina-jolies-mastectomy-decision-and-weighing-cancer-risks?utm_source=NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130515
Fundamentally, I don't think it matters whether I approve or not: It was her decision. I'm really glad she's talking about it though.
The Supreme Court is considering a case regarding tests for the BRCA gene that was used to identify Angelina Jolie's risk. Currently, a company called Myriad Genetics (based in Utah) is claiming a patent on the BRCA gene, and preventing other people from marketing tests for that gene, even though more accurate, less expensive tests exist. I appreciate the timely spotlight on that issue. I hope the result will be both more attention to the test in question, and pressure on the court to rule in a way that makes BRCA gene testing less expensive and more available.
I also appreciate that she's talking about preventative mastectomy, because I think that option should be more available. Insurance should cover it in at least some cases, and some insurance does. Preventative surgery is certainly cheaper and less of a threat to your employment then cancer. I estimate that my medical care (treatment for breast cancer) has cost over half a million in the eleven months since my diagnosis, and I'm not done being treated. Ultimately though, I think that quality of life, and not cost, should be the deciding factor for each individual if possible.
I'm with you, Meepy Cat, I'm glad she spoke out so that these issues will become more visible.
In my family, my maternal great grandmother died of cancer (not sure what kind), my grandmother died of cancer in her 60s (uterine cancer), my maternal grandfather died of pancreatic cancer in his 60s, my maternal uncle died of pancreatic cancer at age 41, and my mother died of ovarian cancer at age 52. My mother's sister, the only remaining member of the family that she grew up in, decided to have a preventive hysterectomy, based on her risk/genetic factors. My sisters (my two siblings that my mother carried) now have to think about their own risk (I am adopted, so my risk is unknown). Watching my mom die of cancer at 52 is an experience I hope I never have to repeat.
So, it hits pretty close to home for me.
I hope the media will talk more about the role of privilege in how risk and care are handled in this country. And I really hope there will be more light shed on the issue of companies seeking to patent genes, something that I think needs far more scrutiny.
Living in Wisconsin with my partner of 20+ years and our DD(Born 10/09/08 ). Why CI Mama? Because I love contact improvisation!