A Cancer.

In the several years I’ve worked in schools in Los Angeles, I’ve had children say things like, “My [parent] didn’t win the [hugely important industry award given to winners at a televised event] last night,” and “My [parent] is a movie star.  Not like Jane was for Halloween, but a movie star in real life, all the time,” so it may come as a surprise to you that I do not know Angelina Jolie personally.  (I know.  You’re shocked.)

However, despite not being besties with the most beautiful woman in the world, I think it’s probably safe to say that she did not have a double mastectomy because she was desperate for a boob job and vying for sympathy

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or because she, like all the women in the world, was tricked into playing right into the super sleazy cancer industry’s hand, like this article implied:

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I mean, really, man.  Could you be a bigger disgusting asshole?  I can get behind eating better.  I can understand advocating for healthy living as a way of preventing disease.  However, it is appalling and irresponsible to insinuate that people with cancer have cancer because they didn’t eat enough flaxseed or drink enough wheatgrass.  Tell that to a four-year-old with leukemia.  (Or better yet, have that conversation with that kid’s parents.)

It’s one thing to craft a moronic argument; it is another thing entirely to frame it in such an offensively glib way.  As a woman, I can tell you that the number of women I know who think their breasts are going to “murder” them is zero.  That is most definitely not “the slogan of many women these days.”  The number of women I know who have been convinced by the “cancer industry” (and not, let’s say, by watching their mothers and grandmothers and aunts die from a disease with a proven genetic component) to casually chop off their body parts is zero.

The women who have made the tremendously difficult and heart wrenching decision to greatly reduce their risk of cancer by having preventative surgery haven’t been brainwashed by anything other than their overwhelming desire to live to see their children grow up.  Or their husbands grow old.  Or a time when people aren’t so thrilled at the prospect of standing tall on their personal soapboxes that they lob outrageous attacks on whole groups of suffering people.

I have no more words.  I’m just going to leave this here and eat some mint chip ice cream to try to cool off and swallow down my rage.

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15 thoughts on “A Cancer.

  1. I’m lucky not to know anyone saying crap like this. It is worrisome that it is possible they’re pushing the gene connection too hard, however, I fully understand the “just in case” idea. She has several kids, and though she’s not likely to leave them poor and destitute if she were to die (I’m sure her husband could *somehow* manage as a lone breadwinner … somehow), she would leave them without a loving mother. She would *leave* them, and that’s the last thing she wants to do.

    The other fact is that, of all the women in Hollywood (ignoring the fact that she’s lessening her roles), AJ is probably the LAST woman to need a boob job. Seriously. Her breasts were awesome. She did not do this to get new tits. She did this, made this difficult choice in order to insure her ability to care for her family. And I have all the respect in the world for her.

    • Agreed. Aside from being disrespectful and gross, I think it’s really odd that people seem to think her announcement “glamorizes” mastectomies. As if now EVERYONE is gonna want one just in time for Cannes.

  2. Thanks for this. I was listening to a radio show the morning Angelina’s announcement went public and I was so disappointed in the DJs. This is normally a pretty mild AM show (I can only imagine what the shock jocks were saying), but they were basically painting her as an alarmist radical with so much money to spend that she just decided to blow some dough on genetics testing. They made it sound like she had indulged herself in mapping her entire genome. Then, of course, she had surgery on a whim just because she could. I mean, who removes healthy breasts “just in case?”, they wondered. I wanted to call in and tell them to get some facts.

    My mother is one of those who opted for a double mastectomy when only one breast had a malignancy and it was not a decision she made lightly. My friend’s mother recently did the same. And Angelina is not the first woman to have a “preventative” double.

    As a woman who has a family history of breast cancer, I do sometimes wonder *when* I will get it and not *if* and I have considered being tested to see if I carry the genetic markers for it. But I haven’t done that basically because I don’t know what I would do with that information. In the meantime, I’ve made significantly different lifestyle choices than my mother and grandmothers that I hope will reduce my risk and I get regular screenings.

    Any woman who has a preventative double mastectomy is nothing short of brave in my book. To label AJ as anything other with respect to this decision is ignorant.

  3. Please, let’s put someone down for making a personal health choice and not EVEN consider that she lost her own mother to a battle with cancer. Yeah, she has no experience with that whatsoever. Right.

    As one who saw her dear friend’s child do battle with brain cancer at age four, I agree with you. “HE” can’t make that argument consistently because there are still people who live healthy lives and still get cancer, there are still children who are born with cancer.

  4. I think what she did was incredibly brave. Even if you aren’t a fan of Jolie you still have to recognize the brave choice she made. She is a mother and a wife, not just an actress, and that is disgusting how they have attacked her about this.

  5. Brilliant, I totally agree with you. I think what she did was smart in her situation. I saw something earlier that was discussing how she’s a special case because she has the privilege of being able to afford this preventative procedure, so does that mean we shouldn’t commend her? She’s not responsible for all the women who can’t afford to do the same.

    I will say, I don’t know if it all warrants a Time magazine cover, but it does deserve recognition.

  6. It is infuriating to think that that is how some people think. I mean, seriously ! It is an incredibly brave and traumatic decision to make. And to make the decision to tell the World in the hope it will help others. Its hardly like AJ is forever putting herself in front of the public eye telling us her opinions on daily topics. In that sense, she seems quite introvert to me. So this must have been a huge deal fro her! High five Jolie

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