Superstar actress Angelina Jolie published an article on Tuesday, May 16th regarding her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy in the face of an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. After the announcement, Jolie goes on to describe how she was unafraid of the drastic effects the preventative procedure would have on her body. She gave wise words to those who may know they need to do something to prevent the possibility of cancer, but are afraid to take action.
“It is reassuring that [my children] see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, 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,” ~Angelina Jolie
Modern cosmetic surgical procedures afford life-changing options for those women who have to make huge sacrifices to save themselves from breast cancer. Angelina Jolie was fortunate not only to be able to make an informed decision based on genetic testing but also to take advantage of dramatic changes in breast reconstruction and cancer treatment options in recent years. The use of skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy, acellular dermal matrix materials such as Alloderm for an internal bra, shaped cohesive implants, and the long-acting numbing agent Exparel for pain reduction all work together to make the experience less daunting for breast cancer patients. What used to be a disfiguring, time-consuming experience can now often be done in a day and with aesthetic results that may even be an improvement in appearance. For these reasons it is important for women with breast cancer or who are BRCA positive to know all of their options before beginning treatment.
“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.
Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.” ~Angelina Jolie