- Instead of focusing on her “extraordinary” courage, I wish celebrity media would urge their audience not to rush to do this procedure and help us address the issues that touch us “ordinary” women:
- How do we go about being tested for cancer genes, when insurances and our own wallets lack the ability to fund it?
- Are there any fee-free organizations helping women who are not as educated or affluent?
- How about dealing with the difficulties of a comprehensive gene analysis. The results are not always black and white. What if your test reveals you only have a 5% chance of getting cancer, what is the difference with 87% when dealing with the information?
Angelina also make it seem like it is a very easy procedure, which it certainly is not. I wish they would not glamorize the surgeries but instead address the physical pain, the walking around with drain bottles sticking out of your sides for 7 days, the long wait before reconstruction. Also, the importance of the choice of surgeons: one that will make sure most breast tissue is removed (any tissue left behind, no matter how microscopically small, can still develop cancer), the other being experienced enough to make your new prosthesis even and nice to look at.
And the enormous financial costs and time demands for the removal of the breasts, weekly filling of the expanders and then actual reconstruction.
What about the long term follow ups? There are complications such as lymphedema in your arms or encapsulating or rupture of the prothesis (which have to be changed every few years anyway) and more… and mention of the other valid options, such as close surveillance of the breasts and chemo preventative therapy.
I could also go on about all the talk of Angelina’s femininity. She is a sex symbol, married to a sex symbol. She is admired, praised, and will be deemed sexually beautiful with or without breasts. I do not think it is the same for most “ordinary” women. I should know. I am one “ordinary” woman, a stage III breast cancer survivor after a one sided mastectomy, 13 years ago.
The writer is a former Larchmont resident and local business owner.
photo: Wikimedia Commons