Angelina Jolie's decision to make public her ordeal of undergoing mastectomy created different reactions from all over the world. The majority of reaction praises her for the courage to undergo the complicated medical procedure; hails her as hero for raising awareness among women about mastectomy as an option against breast cancer.
By now, there had been articles putting emphasis on mastectomy as a very expensive procedure and that not all women, like Angelina, can afford to have the procedure. Some points out that she, rather, created a misleading notion that any women who have breast cancer can undergo mastectomy while the procedure only applies to specific cases.
Little is written about how Angelina is able to illuminate the nature and capacity of all women to still nurture her loved ones, to take care of others, even strangers, amidst undergoing a painful ordeal and to have courage not solely for herself but for those people around her.
Angelina has once again made the statement that women are selfless.
In a personally written essay by Angelina Jolie, entitled "My Medical Choice", published in the opinion pages of The New York Times, she wrote "Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."
Angelina went telling about how her doctors estimated an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer. Her high risk of breast cancer resulted from inherited gene mutation from her mother. Woman with a defect in BRCA1 has 65 percent risk of getting it - she was included to that 65 percent.
Upon knowing that breast cancer is her reality, she made the brave decision to do preventive double mastectomy.
In the superficial world of celebrities, fashion, spotlight and what-not that Angelina is in; in as much as she was hailed as the sexiest and hottest woman in the world; she now dares create a new definition of what it is to be beautiful, sexy and hot.
Angelina, still, is beautiful even without her breasts. Hence, all women could be.
"I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
Taking Care of Others
Angelina shared through her essay that the medical process began on February 2 with a procedure known as "nipple delay". This is a very painful procedure aimed at saving the nipples. Two weeks after, she underwent the 8-hour major surgery where all breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place.
She recalls waking up with drain tubes and expanders in her breast. She said that it feels like a scene out of a science fiction film but days after she is back to her usual activities.
Nine weeks later, the surgery is complete with reconstructive breasts implants.
As calculated, the process happened from February until April. But in March of same year, in the middle of her treatment, she still attended to her humanitarian responsibilities and travel all the way to the Republic of Congo. She was also present at the Women in the World Summit in New York in April and travel to London with British foreign secretary William Hague for the G8 Summit.
Partner Brad Pitt said that all these activities were during "Stage 2. Literally it was just weeks after she'd had truly major surgery."
Nurturing loved ones
Angelina starts her essay sharing that her mother died of cancer. She then shares that her children often ask her if the same could happen to them. She told them not to worry.
After the surgery, she tells her children that "Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was." She told them that she loves them and will do anything she can to be with them as long as she can.
As for her loving partner Brad Pitt, she said that he is a fortune for being so loving and supporting, "Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Cancer, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."
To all Women
In her essay, Angelina put emphasis on why she decided to write about her experience. It was not a mere self expression but in writing about her experience, she hopes that other women can benefit from her experience.
"Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people's hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness..."
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But is one I am very happy that I made."
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options..."
"I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk, they too, will know that they have strong options."