Friday, May 17, 2013

If You Condemn Angelina Jolie You Condemn Me - Why I Defend Her Decision

Post chemo birth of miracle baby, Rachel
Frankly I haven't been this upset about breast cancer for quite some time. Not since I was diagnosed 7 years ago or when my beautiful 28 year old daughter was diagnosed at 20 weeks pregnant. On Wednesday I wrote a blog post, Angelina and Me: A Preemptive Strike Against Breast Cancer. In this post I shared my experience and why I understand (and support) the path Jolie chose. To my utter shock, since that time social media has lit up like a Christmas tree with pontificating, judgmental comments, and calumnity to the umpteenth degree. Of course, this German BRCA1 breast cancer survivor of seven years will not stand for this without a rebuttal. Below you will find what I posted on my personal Facebook wall this morning. I invite any charitable, sourced commentary or questions. Those who sink to personal attacks - not so much.

Before you weigh in on the Angelina Jolie Breast Cancer saga...

NOTE: fortunately a huge majority of you will never be diagnosed with BRCA1 breast cancer...BUT, here are a few facts to remember:

1) Angelina Jolie carries the BRCA1 gene as did her mother. Unfortunately, my daughter and I share this dubious honor with her. So, even if this doesn't affect you, be kind enough to acknowledge that we matter too.

2) The BRCA1 gene presents us with an 85% chance of becoming a breast cancer victim, we are not the same as those who have other breast cancers. This cancer is aggressive, fast growing and chemotherapy doesn't faze it 40% of the time.

3) Taking a preemptive strike against a known killer - 3 generations before me have died in their 40's and 50's - is not 'mutilating' your body, nor is it a lack of faith in God.

4) Many of the articles now making an appearance use highly flawed 'data'.

5) Gullible readers of said articles are somehow becoming overnight breast cancer experts who don't even bother to read the first hand accounts or the medical data.

6) Making loud pronouncements using flawed information is uncharitable, diminishes what victims of BRCA1 breast cancer suffer, and causes extreme emotional anguish. 

7) I'm no fan of anything Hollywood and usually refrain from reading any information about 'stars', however, since I've lived this I made an exception and read Jolie's account. Nothing she says in her original article is hyperbole but is scientifically accurate. 

8) If the human gene for BRCA1 breast cancer is patented, a great injustice will have been served by making a part of the human body a commodity. This repugnant issue has nothing to do with the severity of the disease for those of us who suffer it.

9) Mastectomy and reconstruction are a medical procedure and an effort to live life as normally as possible. It is not vanity, it is not easy, and it carries side effects for the rest of your this is not something one does lightly.

10) Bottom line - if you direct condemnation at Angelina Jolie for what she did to preemptively fight this monster, you are doing the same to those of us who share her situation. 

Thank you for reading this. Please help the victims of this horrible disease by not joining in the cancer victim bashing.

Relevant Links:

If you want to read what Angelina Jolie actually said click here

Here is one of the terribly inaccurate articles making a big splash. It appears that many people assume that an 'opinion' piece carries the same weight as actual science and medical research. How terrifying, considering that being misinformed about this life or death struggle could be a death sentence for those who do carry the BRCA1 gene. Will their blood be on the hands of those who perpetuate faulty information?

On the other hand, here is an actual scientific study, the findings of which mirror all that I have been told by countless oncologists and experienced through my family history.