"I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."

Angelina Jolie has written an extraordinary op-ed for the New York Times, titled "My Medical Choice," about her recent decision to have a preventative double mastectomy after learning she carries the BRCA1 "breast cancer" gene and had an estimated 87% risk of developing breast cancer.

This piece is remarkable for a lot of reasons. Jolie notes that she "finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved" on April 27, and: "During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work." And having managed to keep it a secret, itself a rather impressive feat, she decided to then publicly disclose it, in order that "other women can benefit from my experience."

It's remarkable because she writes very plainly that her ability to get the $3,000 BRCA1 test is a privilege, and advocates wider access:
Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.
And because she does not assert or imply that her decision is the only right decision, but one of many options:
For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.
And it's remarkable because Angelina Jolie is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful women in a world that profoundly values beauty and defines women's worth by their sex appeal, and she is telling women to value their health.

There is something deeply moving to me for a woman whose body, by nature of her profession, has been treated like public property even more than most of us, writing such an intimate piece about her body, making it public property in yet another way by her own choice, for the benefit of other women.

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