I was concerned when I first heard about Angelina Jolie’s elective surgery. With such a big health issue that millions of women have to deal with, I hoped she would use her celebrity status as a platform.

And she did just that.

Angelina jolie by philipp von ostauJolie’s story

Jolie wrote an op-ed in the New York Times describing her recent elective double mastectomy. She is genetically predisposed to the BRAC1 gene. She calls it a “faulty” gene that increases her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. She wrote about losing her mother to ovarian cancer at the age of 56.

Jolie said she decided to drop her chances of getting breast cancers from 87 percent to less than five percent by having a double mastectomy.

She said the main reason she decide on the elective surgery is because she didn’t want her kids to grow up without a mother or have to watch her go through that sort of illness.

“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action,” Jolie wrote in New York Times.

What is a double mastectomy?

The Mayo Clinic explains a mastectomy is when all of the breast tissue is removed when a person is at high risk for developing or has breast cancer. The clinic, Jolie and us here at Lady Choices suggest you contact your doctor if you have any sort of family history of the disease. Everyone’s case is different and only a specialist can tell you what your best option is.

The Mayo Clinic says the predisposition to can be passed through a mother’s or father’s side of the family. The center says you should keep up with your health with checkups and breast self-exams.

Find what’s right for you

“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,” Jolie wrote.

I hope Jolie’s story helps a lot of women out there who are considering this type of surgery. It’s a hard pill to swallow once you’re diagnosed or even predisposed, but all you can do is try and prevent and treat until a cure is found.

Feeling feminine after the surgery

Even though a part of you may be gone after the surgery, your breasts do not define you as a woman or person. Your health and attitude toward life should be your only concern as emotions zoom past you. Take a breather, weigh your options and do what’s best to keep you healthy and empowered.

“On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity,” she wrote.

Talk it out

If you need someone or a local group to talk to, the National Cancer Institute can be reached at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237). I also suggest talking to your doctor, friends, family and your partner if you find yourself ready to make a decision.

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