“Two years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy. A simple blood test had revealed that I carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave me an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I lost my mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer. I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.”
~ Angelina Jolie
One woman’s experience and why I will not judge.
These are the words spoken in an open communication by the beautiful and extremely authentic Angelina Jolie.
She goes on to provide insight into her decision, in a thoughtful letter to the world.
These are the words that will inspire conversation, incite anger and provoke commentary that, I am confident, will both be supportive and unnecessarily ugly.
What are we to take from the very personal and undoubtedly difficult decision made by a woman who, in my opinion, regards her role as mother with a consummate passion? A woman whose life quite clearly is lived as wholly for her husband and children as it is for herself and a host of other causes?
Should we judge her choices and serve her up on the world stage as someone who has chosen surgery over the natural process of life? After all, one can easily leave their children orphaned via any number of vehicles, be they disease or accident. This surgery is not the entire insurance policy, quite obviously. Life has a way of surprising us. My own mother left me orphaned at age five from cancer, my father from suicide, and my life has been a reflection of that most abrupt abandonment. I’d give anything to have them still and wish there had been a way to save them.
I urge us all to think before we speak on this subject, for these reasons:
We are all in this together. What happens to one of us is part of the collective experience. There is no pain felt by one that is not felt by all. Therefore, let us hold each other gently as we move through life.
Women must support other women. Wholeheartedly. Without question. There is no reason for one woman to tear another down. We begin and end with solidarity.
We do not know another’s heart and soul as much as we like to think we do. There is no telling what anguish, love, fear or introspection goes into one woman’s decision to sacrifice her personal needs for the good of her family. Judgement is a way of justifying our own path in life. It is often cruel. Let us give space for every woman to walk her own path. With love.
No matter our own opinion, or what choices we would make were we in Ms. Jolie’s position, there is a family here—a man who adores his wife, a woman who cherishes her children, a couple who fight for each others’ dreams.
They are not my family, but they are part of my tribe. My human tribe. My tribe is sacred to me. And therefore, as for me, I will stand with feet planted solidly on the ground, my heart fiercely set on staying free of judgement, my hands offering support.
I am a mother. Mothering is not for the faint of heart.
“My Medical Choice.” Angelina Jolie, 37, Publicly Explains Why She Recently Underwent A Double Mastectomy.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Travis May
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