Mega star actress, Angelina Jolie, sent shock waves through the media when her op-ed disclosing a double mastectomy was published in the New York Times on May 14, 2013. Jolie discusses how her family history and the loss of her mother to cancer played a huge role in her taking preventative measures to increase the odds of longevity for her children.
The opinion pieces also acknowledges how this life extending preventive measure was an option afforded to her only because of her financial means. Angelina’s disclosure brings to light the health care disparities many low income and uninsured women face in obtaining treatment and preventative care.
She also discloses the financial cost of the testing necessary to determine if she was at risk. The test itself was $3,000 which does not include the actual cost for the double mastectomy procedure and the reconstructive surgery. Many advocates for cancer screening and early education feel Angelina Jolie’s opinion piece will help efforts to educate young women on cancer risks and the importance of preventive care.
According to the New York Times, Angelina Jolie stated,
MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.
We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer andovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex. Read Full Article
For information on treatment and preventative care covered by Medicaid and Medicare, you can visit . The American Cancer Society is also an excellent resource to gain insight and access to information on cancer statistics, treatment, and preventative care. Below, you can view and download the latest cancer statistics.
Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.