By Czarina Obieta
In the midst of trivial entertainment news about Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy and the latest of Amanda Bynes’ Twitter shenanigans, Angelina Jolie proves once again why the world needs more people like her.
Women’s health advocates all over the world are praising Jolie after the New York Times published her editorial on May14 where she admitted to getting a double mastectomy in February.
This is the way it should be done. More public figures should use their celebrity status to spread awareness about issues to the public.
In the article, the actress and humanitarian: Jolie, opened up about getting the procedure done. She explained that it was because she has the rare gene mutation called BRCA1 that increases chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer up to 65 percent on average.
Jolie’s doctors explained to her that since she has an 87 percent chance of developing cancer, her risk was higher than the average. This number was decreased to 5 percent after having the procedure.
Was it absolutely necessary for her to have the surgery done so urgently? Probably not, but the issue hits close to home.
Jolie has her own personal reasons for seemingly overreacting about her diagnosis. As stated in her editorial, the actress is a mother to six adopted children, most of whom are under 10 years old. Her mother, Marcheline Betrand, publicly battled ovarian cancer for 10 years before succumbing to the disease in 2007.
Jolie further explained that the reason she chose to write about it was for increased awareness among women.
This isn’t anything new for Jolie, who in the past few years has managed to have her personal life out of the limelight and is only in the news when she is advocating her humanitarian work such as the Darfur conflict and her efforts as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Much like Jolie, there have been numerous public figures that let it be known to the world that they had mastectomies, such as Christina Applegate, Betty Ford, Sharon Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic, and Wanda Sykes.
Very few women choose the path she took in how, when and why she decided to inform people.
Instead of focusing on her struggles and how it has been difficult for her, she chose to use her name as a means of informing the public about a pressing issue. She didn’t try to gain the public’s sympathy or garner publicity.
Following the footsteps of Betty Ford, she did not present herself as a big movie star with an experience that no one could relate to. Instead, she presented herself as a common woman who had to make a choice about something that affects a lot of other women, famous or not.
Of course, few other women have the credibility and influence that Jolie has. This was probably why she chose to quietly deal with it on her own and only shared it after the fact rather than make a big publicity circus of her condition.
In choosing to keep quiet about her ordeals, she brought the attention away from herself and more towards the larger issue at hand: breast cancer.
According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, the gene mutation is rare in women: only one in 400 would have it.
There are preventive measures and genetic technology that women can take advantage of to let them know of their own risks, but as Jolie points out, the test itself is costly for the average woman.
In doing this, not only does it educate women about this rare condition and encourage them to be proactive, but she calls them to action.
It would not be surprising if, within a few months, Jolie stated advocating a way to help women be able to afford and receive treatments. More men and women should follow her example.
Brian Hernandez/The Poly Post
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