For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

Comments (37)
  1. FWIW, it isn’t recommended that you get these genetic tests unless your family has a history of these cancers. Not “especially if you have a family history,” ONLY if you have a family history. And even then…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/14/most-women-probably-shouldnt-get-the-cancer-screening-angelina-jolie-did/

    • Even then, even if you have the gene, they just tell you to get a mammogram more frequently than the usual rate because early detection is key.

    • She didn’t say that women who “especially” have a family history should get the test. The quote above is very clearly NOT saying that:

      “I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

      All she is saying is take care of your health, take control of your health, and then make informed decisions. Nowhere does it recommend women with a family history should definitely get the test.

      but I guess it wouldn’t be the internet if people didn’t find something to criticize or misread.

  2. Somewhere in America, a band has already taken the name Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy.

  3. I reserve my opinion on this until two male vloggers do some kind of simulation.

  4. This is an honest question. Is there an actual shame-based stigma out there that exists for this kind of thing? Like is anyone out there thinking “No, nope. What an attack on femininity!” I think “Don’t get cancer if you can help it” is a pretty supported choice, right?

    • Sadly, yes. Mastectomies still carry a lot of baggage. :(

      • Wow. What? I mean I don’t think I’ll be seeing invites to anyone mastectomy party or anything, but can’t we just let people NOT GET CANCER?

        (Granted, I have to raise my eye-brows with Angie. Not that I take issue with the choice, one way or the other, but at least give a nod to the women who have to do this without unmitigated access to the best plastic surgeons in the entire world. I’m glad she won’t be disfigured, for her and her family’s sake, but the decision had to be made a LITTLE easier by the fact that she can afford to rebuild virtually any part of her body for cosmetic purposes.)

  5. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I’m not besmirching breast cancer survivors. I’m just saying that it’s a lot easier to detect and survive than other cancers and shit like this raises so much more money and awareness to something that already brings in a ton of money for research and development… when way more women need to know the basic cautionary signs of a heart attack for women because guess what!!! They’re different than what is usually known!

      • Maybe we can raise awareness by giving Tig Notaro a heart attack.

        • All cancers are terrible. Getting a double mastectomy when you aren’t sick is irresponsible and touting it like it is a thing women should do spreads misinformation.

          • I would leave out the “fuck her” since it is a pretty big health decision and it is a conversation worth having, but, on the merits, BadIdeaJeans is absolutely right.

            As a dude it is not my place to criticize the choice to get a double mastectomy, but it is a weird choice if you don’t already have cancer.

      • In most cases (celebrities throwing their hat in the Komen ring, etc.) I would feel the same but I am kind of cutting her some slack on this one, only because there were a lot of tabloid rumors about her not being out much because she was getting a cosmetic procedure and when she was photographed magazines were saying she looked thin/unhealthy/”was she on heroin like Dr. Drew said?” and whatever when now it seems she was obviously recovering from the surgeries. With people poking around I feel like someone was going to find out eventually, and while I normally find her to be on this side of sanctimonious ass I think a short op-ed in the paper that’s like, “This is what went on and what I did and it’s not available to poor women,” and then out, even with the preachy bits in the middle, is much less harmful and assanine then the Oprah/Barbara Walters special and celebrity pink t-shirt line that gives.002 cents for every item sold to a brand name charity that seems like the norm in events like this.

        I’m not saying it’s not still written a bit preachy and over-reaching in knowledge, but it was going to happen and it could have been (and maybe still will be) so much worse.

        • I should also add, for no good reason, being given an 87% number with her family history and a doctor who considered it an option I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. It shouldn’t be routine for anyone with hereditary disposition, obviously, but I would say the likelihood her doctors quoted makes it something of an extreme case if you include the fact that they consider her 50% more liekly to get ovarian cancer as well. I think the fact that she didn’t have the much more drastic and hormone-altering oophorectomy as well is indication that this wasn’t a stretch of medical ethics in her case.

    • Oh, Jeans! I expected better of you. She has the means and the access to reduce her own personal (genetically elevated) risk of breast cancer from 87% to 5% and you’re going to begrudge her that with a “fuck her”? Especially after she watcher her mom suffer through the same disease? If I was told that I had an 87% chance of getting cancer and that I could reduce that risk to 5% by getting my tits pre-emptively cut off, and I could afford the procedure, I would be on that like a flannel. I imagine the choice was harder for her to make because she earns her living on those very tits.

      Breast cancer is not the boogeyman that the pink ribbons make it out to be, but you cannot seriously be giving a “fuck her” to a woman who took precautions against a terrible, ravaging disease that runs in her family.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • With all due respect, it sounds like the doctors helped her come to this decision with her, rather than Jolie railroading them through an unnecessary procedure. Have you seen the documentary In the Family? It’s available online and follows women getting tested for the BRCA gene.

          http://inthefamily.kartemquin.com/film

          http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

        • But I feel like that’s not how medicine works. We don’t know, maybe her money and social influence made these doctors more likely to do this because she wanted it (though she isn’t like the first person by a long shot to have a preventative mastectomy, it’s not common but it’s not new either) but doctors generally aren’t going to be super into pushing on of these hot, on trend Jolie mastectomies to all their patients like you’d see in the plastic surgery industry. More people might know about the option and ask about it but I don’t think the doctors/insurance companies who will facilitate and allow this procedure are going to get swept up in the new mastectomy whirlwind. It’s not like other instances where ethics get murky like too many episiotomies and c-sections to save time or over-prescribing because of pharmaceutical swag; I don’t see how a celebrity having gotten a procedure like this is going to effect the medical community.

          • I think we’re missing the point here, which is that she is NOT advocating for this procedure, nor is she asking people to donate to breast cancer research or saying that breast cancer is more important than other health risks. She is sharing her personal story, maybe to get people to think more about their health, maybe to put a cork in the “Angelina Jolie Plastic Surgery Scandal” headlines that I’m sure were already being printed. She is urging people to speak to their doctors and focus on their health. Her procedure was extreme and may or may not have been justified, we don’t know because we aren’t doctors and it isn’t our fucking body so who cares? She is not telling people to get crazy tests done or have their bits cut off because there is a risk of cancer, or claiming that breast cancer is the #1 cause of death among women or anything crazy like that. She is explaining what she did and why she did it.

        • Having taken a couple classes on medical and genetic ethics i can tell you that while it’s not an easy decision to make, what she did is definitely not considered unusual in the medical community. Probably the bigger ethical issue here is that the testing is so expensive because myriad genetics has been allowed to patent the BRCA1 gene.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/business/court-reaffirms-right-of-myriad-genetics-to-patent-genes.html?_r=0

        • litothela | Posted at 3:29pm 0

          Her course of action is ASBOLUTELY a ‘recommended’/encouraged/offered option for women who carry BRCA1/2 mutations. It is NOT an irresponsible course of action. Please educate yourself about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (again, a subset that accounts for only 5-10% of all cases of breast cancer) and the guidelines for screening/treatment/prevention. She is NOT advocating that the average woman, or even MOST women with a family history of breast cancer pursue these treatments.

          You are VERY right that preventive mastectomies are NOT recommended for the average individual. But a person who carries a BRCA1/2 mutation is not the average individual.

          - Your friendly neighbourhood videogummer who works in medical genetics and has seen dozens and dozens of patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer/other cancer predisposition syndromes

    • What the fuck do you care what she does with her own body? Seriously, fuck you. How in the hell does this even affect you?

      I give up on the internet today, people are terrible.

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    • I’m sorry, but I so very strongly disagree. You presumably are not Ms. Jolie, nor presumably are you part of her care team. If you are a specialist in genetic testing or counseling or in cancer treatment, I would like proof. I think you’re being very harmful her. She and her doctors made a choice they thought was best for her care, with her familial background and her risk factors. And these arguments are just as shitty as the “Oh no now she has no boobs and is therefore of no value poor us for losing her boobs trololololol”.

    • I too am concerned about your facts…it’s also a bit insulting to those who suffer various cancers to say that if they just change their diets and/or use their ‘common sense’ that it’d be fixed/avoided.

    • I am seriously so fucking mad right now. How dare you. Really, how fucking dare you. Chemotherapy and surgery saved my mom’s fucking life. You can think whatever the hell you want to but don’t pretend like you have answers and don’t act like medical breakthroughs are the enemy.

    • You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • “Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are ineffective long term and each of them serves to PROMOTE the spread of cancer cells”

      did you copy paste this shit from yahoo answers?

  7. being famous sounds like a goddman nightmare and opening up your personal life to scrutiny is a bad choice. but using your famous face and name to publicize the importance of proactive medical measures, at the cost of personal privacy, is an amazing thing.

    whereas gwyneth paltrow uses her name and face to sell thousand dollar shot glasses. so.

  8. The wonderful thing about the internet is that you can always find someone who agrees with you.

    The terrible thing about the internet is that you can always find someone who agrees with you.

  9. “Maybe I’ll do a joke about Billy Bob Thornton making a necklace out of one of the breasts; let me check the tone of the comments and see if that’s a good plan.”

  10. People losing body parts makes me sad. I don’t like it when women lose their breasts. I don’t like it when men lose a ball or two. I don’t like people losing limbs and eyes and fingers in explosions and other scenarios where people lose parts of their body. Accidents. Medicine. whatever. There are many reasons why people lose body parts. And the fact that we come into this world with a set of stuff, and a lot if not most people leave this world missing parts is, well, ‘normal,’ but still tragic in that sacrifices are made, and our fragile shells have been chipped away at in one form or another, and the medical side of things is so weird because you are faced with the decision of allowing people the permission to remove your things from you. And I don’t like that all this is apparently normal. Jump into life. Let’s lose ourselves.

    “Phantom limb” is a bad-ass phrase tho.

  11. Her course of action is ASBOLUTELY a ‘recommended’/encouraged/offered option for women who carry BRCA1/2 mutations. It is NOT an irresponsible course of action. Please educate yourself about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (again, a subset that accounts for only 5-10% of all cases of breast cancer) and the guidelines for screening/treatment/prevention. She is NOT advocating that the average woman, or even MOST women with a family history of breast cancer pursue these treatments.

    You are VERY right that preventive mastectomies are NOT recommended for the average individual. But a person who carries a BRCA1/2 mutation is not the average individual.

    - Your friendly neighbourhood videogummer who works in medical genetics and has seen dozens and dozens of patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer/other cancer predisposition syndromes

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