“Breasts” have been considered very valuable and priceless from time eternal. It is a sign of sensuality and femininity. Besides, throughout the child-bearing period, the brilliant breasts not only provide the baby with life protracting milk but also with the chief elements to protect, nurture and shore up the immune system. Moreover, time and again, the world in general recognizes a woman’s breasts to be an essential component of her overall aesthetic appearance, particularly to men. There are women who even feel they are defined by these supple protruding organs. Each of this, and furthermore, makes it incredibly hard for any woman to acknowledge the defacement or removal of a breast (mastectomy), even for cancer. We, women would trade even our kidneys and lungs but trading our mammary glands is a big “No”. Worse is, double mastectomy with no concrete disease in both of them.
But it doesn’t affect the well-known stunning actress, activist, goddess Angelina Jolie who went for double mastectomy at the age of 37, two months ago. Her mother and aunt both died of cancer and the reason for her going under the medical radar was a laboratory finding which declared that the actor carries a mutant of BRCA1 gene. While Jolie claims to reduce the cancer risk from 87% to 5%, I am yet to come in terms with the stir it is creating because if science and technology can detect this mutant am sure it could have been treated way before it could lay its hand on the gorgeous Jolie. Besides, Breasts Cancer is curable and it is fatal only in case where it has been detected at a very late stage. And if you ask any woman they would prefer lumpectomy over mastectomy. In any case, if god forbid, Jolie would have diagnosed with it, lumpectomy would have come to her rescue.
Prevention is any time better than cure – agreed but then, was there only this method? Mutant genes are not the only risk, smoking, alcohol equally plays a role. Changing lifestyle prevents the risk too. The ex-President of America, Bill Clinton did that and could reverse his poor health and heart disease by changing his dietary habits.
I am not here to criticize the activist decision as I admire her strongly. However, not at all for her beauty or acting but mainly for her ‘Global Contribution’ and her act of generosity for the human race around the world. For me, she is like an angel on earth and yes I can write pages and pages of her act of goodwill. But, I still wonder why the double mastectomy, was it necessary, was it the only solution?
No doubt it is her own personal choice but if you analyze the situation this mastectomy was totally unnecessary because even after the removal, Ms. Jolie still has a risk of getting cancer, though decreased. Besides, mastectomy comes with its own risk – infection, bleeding, long term pain and the worst, lymphedema (A painful permanent swelling where lymph nodes has been removed. Women struggle with it.)
Many of the cancer including breasts are due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Changing habits can play a vital role in decreasing the risk. Quitting smoking and drinking can help a lot. Where a double mastectomy can cost you $50,000 a change towards healthy dietary habit can reduce your monthly bill. Off late, it is been observed that profit derives health message. A hospital can provide the patients with a costly double mastectomy in the name of health message and prevention but why are they not coming up or serving patients with dietary medicines or even prescribing it. Less of business, huh?
Double mastectomy reduces the risk of breast cancer, got it. But, prostate cancer occurs in almost 100% of all men by age of 80 years, does that recommends total prostate removal on every man’s 40th birthday?
Coming back to Ms. Jolie (who I must admit have an amazing partner in the form of Brad Pitt who stands for her always no matter what) – After her double mastectomy she even underwent boob implants which again has its own number of side effects. Now, to prevent something which is unknown and curable, Jolie embraced happily two unwanted risk and side effects – pain of mastectomy and side-effects of implants.
Besides, even for a second, if I try to consider that her act is just, it still rules out because it is not feasible and cannot be applied for all those women who are suffering or have the mutant gene of breast cancer all across the world. While, the media and the world is busy praising the beauty for her brave, heroic and bold step, I still have this one question for my favorite activist, “Double Mastectomy, was it necessary – Really Angie?”
By Deepti Verma