Waiting for Savasana

Even Though No One Asked, I Will Tell You What I Think

5 Comments

Angelina Jolie wrote this beautiful piece that was published yesterday about her decision to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction.  She currently does not have breast cancer but learned that she, like her mother  who died several years ago from ovarian cancer, has a genetic mutation on the BRCA1 strand that predicts her chances of breast and ovarian cancer at extremely high risk.

I liked her piece and I respect her decision.  I can not imagine it was an easy one, especially for someone who lives in the spotlight and has a successful career, in part, because for her gorgeous appearance.

Not don’t get me wrong, Angeline Jolie is not my favorite celebrity.  While I appreciate the good work she does around the world as a Unicef ambassador, I don’t appreciate or relate to her on many other levels.

Anyway, what I can not believe is the flack people are giving her in the comments section.  There seem to be a large faction of “fans” claiming Jolie had the mastectomy purely for publicity.  This is after she described her post surgery ordeal with the ubiquitous Tubes and Drains.

All I can say is, people, get real.

This is a woman who can generate publicity by smooching her brother, or wearing her lover’s blood in a necklace.  Heck, really, all she needs to do is stick her leg out like a moron and the whole world is talking about her.

Publicity?

No.

This stuff hurts, man!  It hurts like a mofo!  I’m almost 4 weeks out and it still hurts a lot.

There is no way Angeline Jolie had a mastectomy for publicity.

She can chew gum and get publicity.

Some of the comments were about the reconstruction process.  Like it’ so easy.  People, it is anything but easy.  These tissue expanders, the ones Angelina got, the same one, I got, they are not comfortable.  Just imagine the doctor inserting a baggie like contraption into your pectoral muscles and then once a week inserting a needle,  filling that baggie with saline and ssttrrreettccchhhiinngg the muscle.

It’s awful.

And the edges of those expanders…ugh!  Beyond uncomfortable at times.  Sometimes they just dig into your chest.  Sometimes, the muscles rebel and it feels like and elephant is sitting on your chest.  Sometimes it feels like you are wearing a too tight bra made of some kind of heavy metal when you’re really just in your pajamas. It’s insane!

Angelina endured weeks of the crap, just like I am.  Seriously, I just looked down I can see my pectoral muscles contracting right now through my clothing.  This is not fun.

And then three months later, she had a second surgery to put an implant into the stretched out muscle.  And then…more tubes and drains!

Now I’m sure Angelina had a nurse to empty her tubes and drains although it is nice to imagine Brad doing it for her the way my dear hubby took care of mine.  And she has a staff to keep her children entertained while she recuperates.  But nurse or not, I can tell you a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction is not a walk in the park.

I’m going to physical therapy once a week to strengthen and rehab my arm from this surgery.  I’m still taking pain killers.  I can’t drive!  I am at the mercy of my friends and family to get me through this.

I’m sure Angelina’s staff has got her back but still, that surgery is really freaking hard!

It is a big, big choice.

And people think she did it for publicity?  How silly.

Yes, I admit I am a little envious.  I wish I could do what Angelina did.  I wish I had some test that had told me I was at risk for this horrible disease because as you know, unlike Angelina, I still have some work to do before I can switch out my expanders for some new guns.

Chemo…radiation…more surgery… blah, enough about me!

If I could have saved myself the things I am going to endure this summer with a test that could predict an 87% risk a few years ago instead of where I am today as a Stage 3C cancer patient, heck yes, I would have taken that test years ago, had the surgery and counted myself fortunate.

One genius in the comments I read on CNN disagreed with Jolie’s decision saying that instead of a mastectomy, she should have chosen to get more frequent mammograms, after all, she certainly could afford them.  But what people seem to forget is that mammograms ARE full of radiation themselves.  They are not something anyone should be getting every six months, especially if they already know they have a high risk of developing breast cancer, duh!

I don’t know why the commenters annoyed me so much. I don’t really make it a habit to defend celebrities.  I guess it’s because I am living this thing and I am only three years older than Angelina Jolie.  My birthmother and I are both living this cancer nightmare despite the fact that I am BRCA negative.  If there had been a test that could have saved my life without involving the Hell I am in for, I would have taken it and gladly had the same procedure Angelina Jolie.

Angelina made a tough decision.  But she did it because she is a mama and she wants to be there for her kids.  Just like I do.  Just like we all do.

And while she has never been exactly my favorite celebrity, today she is my sister because we share a very surreal experience that is equal parts horrific and hope inducing.

The day of my surgery to remove the 5cm cancerous growth from my breast was the day my doctors and I could say Hell no, Cancer.  You’re not getting me today.  Not today.

Can you imagine being perfectly healthy and taking a test that predicts and 87% chance of you contracting breast cancer in your lifetime?

What would you do?

You know what I would do.

And Angelina?  All I can say is that is one strong lady.

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5 thoughts on “Even Though No One Asked, I Will Tell You What I Think

  1. I agree with you. If Angelina can make being tested and opting for surgery acceptable to more women and men then she has done a good thing by making it public. When 1 in 8 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their life, any publicity on that tragedy is great. Unfortunately for too many the cost of the test is out of reach, maybe she and Brad will set up a foundation to help make the test and the elective surgery available to more women at risk. You have certainly done your part by raising money and running all those races.

  2. Apparently, the lab the does the test is trying to patent the gene or test for $. Their case was just heard by the US Supreme Court and it will be interesting to see what happens. The test was over $4k but the company had this thing where if insurance wouln’t pay, the patient was only responsible for around $400. I do not get how that works. Insurance covered mine because of my age and family history.

    • Glad to hear your insurance stepped up for this. I did hear a news story about the court case. I recall one scientist saying their lab does the test and the cost is way less. Since the court sided with Monsanto 9-zip against an Indiana farmer, the outlook for not being able to patent human genes seems bleak.

  3. Beth, I am a very good friend of your mom’s and I know she is much better now that she is with you. I just want you to know that all of us in Indiana are going through this with you. You are one strong woman and I for one am proud to be a friend of that lady you call Mom!! By default that makes me be proud to be a friend of yours too.

  4. My sister had to fight to get it covered, it wouldn’t be covered for me despite over 5 close relatives on both sides having breast cancer (some at a very early age). If I would know the risk was high, I would have surgery. I also read she is going to have surgery to remove her ovaries since brca also raises the risk of ovarian cancer. Another surgery that isn’t a piece
    of cake.

    My sister was negative for brca, but she was triple negative for receptors (a pretty uncommon and pretty aggressive type) so she was at super high risk of relapse the first 3 years.

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