Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 11.11.09 AMI’m tired of journalists treating women like idiots.

When Angelina Jolie announced that she carries a harmful BRCA mutation that will dramatically up her chances of developing cancer, I felt horrible for her, since I also carry and understand the burden of a BRCA mutation, but I also felt elated that she’d raised the profile of hereditary breast cancer and prophylactic mastectomy.

Then the “against-the-grain” news stories started rolling in. Many pieces missed a chance to inform the public about the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations, which can be passed on by both men and women, and account for some 5-10 percent of all breast cancer cases and all ovarian cancer cases although less than 1 percent of the population carries them. Instead, they chose to sensationalize Jolie’s choice to have a prophylactic mastectomy – a procedure that has been performed for women at high risk for breast cancer since at least the 1970s and is well-accepted as a valid treatment by doctors who specialize in BRCA patients.

How stupid do they think we are? It’s a major medical procedure, not a manicure. I can’t help but feel that the old insidious stereotype that women are irrational, easily panicked, susceptible to celebrity influence, and prone to emotional decisions underscores these worries about “unnecessary” mastectomies and a “panicked” horde of women refusing to come to terms with their cancer risk.

Read the rest of the piece over at Slutist!

Stop Using Jolie’s Surgery to Condescend to Women
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2 thoughts on “Stop Using Jolie’s Surgery to Condescend to Women

  • December 6, 2013 at 2:27 am
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    Hi. I found your story on google, my name is Angie, i live in Orlando fl. I also have the brca1 gene and even bebore i got the test done i knew i wanted a mastectomy if it came back positive, well its been like 3 months since i got the results. I have been having a lot of appts, and on tuesday i got an appointment with the surgeon doin the reonstruction. Well i had everything set up and i told myself that everything will be ok, and i was trying to think about all the positive things, but, tonight when my husband got home he tokd me that his lawyer wanted to talk to me about the surgery…. She says that she also had cancer and she wants to tell me that i shoudnt go trough surgery. That i shoudnt trust doctors because some doctor killed her son… Well i am confused, i just turned 27. I have 2 kids 6and 4. I dont want anything to happen to me but i dont wanna go in life being scared thinking that one day i might get cancer. Im still going to the appointment on tuesday. I just wanna ask you about your experience. I know im a stranger but i dont talk to nobody about this. My family dosnt know about this, only my mom, and she went trough double mastectomy too and histerectomy. But i just need your opinion, your advice, pelase help i cant stop crying idk what to do. ,…

  • December 6, 2013 at 2:50 am
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    Angie–

    I am so sorry that you are going through all this. It sucks. But I want to let you know that you are not alone–there are many of us out there. You should start by visiting the FORCE website and its message boards, which are available here (http://www.facingourrisk.org/support/message_board.php). You can connect with a whole range of women going through the same thing you are.

    Just remember that it is your body and that you should make the best decision for YOU. It is also definitely OK to have whatever feelings you have–the months between BRCA results and mastectomy were some of the hardest of my life.

    If you want to read more about my experience, I’ve written about deciding on mastectomy here:
    http://www.today.com/id/33383142/ns/today-today_health/

    I wrote about having my mastectomy here:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/04/24/good-bye-to-my-breasts.html

    My Today Show appearance is here:
    http://lizziestark.com/2010/10/06/watch-me-on-the-today-show/

    I learned I had a BRCA mutation at 27, like you, and now I am almost four years out from mastectomy and feel satisfied with my decision. I have an aunt and two of my mother’s cousins who did the same thing, and have lived long healthy lives so far! Mastectomy is a big decision, and it’s not for everyone, but it was right for me.

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