Angelina Jolie: Why What She Did Matters for Our Girls

I don’t often feel compelled to speak out on the actions of Angelina Jolie, yet this week I must. Her announcement of her brave preventative double mastectomy hits close to home. I too carry the breast cancer gene BRCA1. After a lumpectomy followed by chemo, I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy oophorectomy and reconstruction as a preventative measure. Like Angelina Jolie, I made the decision for my family: my husband, my children, my parents.

Some day given my history, my daughter will have to be tested. I cringe when I think that although my husband’s genes seem to dominate there is a chance that she too could be BRCA 1.

The decision I made was a personal one, a private matter that I discussed only with my family and closest friends. It was not a decision I made quickly or lightly.

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There are certainly many benefits to being a superstar; there are, however, a host of drawbacks as well. Angelina Jolie is an international icon. There are probably few places on earth she could go without being recognized. On almost a daily basis details of her life are shared in tabloids all over the world. Some of what it written is true, while much of it is probably pure fabrication. I imagine this public life she lives with her family could at times get overwhelming.

When living such a public life there are certainly choices and sacrifices that one is faced with daily. Angelina made a bold and brave decision when she decided to share her very personal decision with the world. To say that she deserves the utmost respect and has earned a badge of courage could be considered an understatement, especially given her line of work where beauty matters and age can break you.

Angelina has given a great gift to our girls. In speaking publically about her personal decision she has sent a message that outside beauty is skin deep but courage, compassion and a big heart offer great hope and radiate inner beauty.

We have made great strides in cancer research. The fact that a ‘breast cancer’ gene has even been identified is quite incredible. Isolating such a gene offers hope and promise that somehow it will be reversible in the future. Knowledge of the gene can also be scary and stressful. Would you really want to know if you carried the gene? While knowledge equals power in the form of prevention, testing positive for the gene can bring on a sense of doom and gloom.

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Angelina is sending the message that we can and should know our fate. We owe it to our children, our spouses, most importantly to ourselves. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention.

Angelina Jolie defines beauty itself. Her decision to bare her soul and tell all, sends an important message to our girls. Parts do not define us as women, beautiful minds and compassionate hearts are what matter most. A woman is a daughter, a sister, mother, a niece, an aunt. A pair of breasts and ovaries are parts of a woman they do not define who or what she is.

Angelina teaches us to not only value life, but to do what it takes to preserve it.

We live in a culture where we truly look up to the stars. It is especially inspiring to see at least one starlet use her influence and power to send a message that what matters is what is on the inside. She tells our girls to stand tall, to be proud, she takes the shame and embarrassment of losing the very parts that define one as a woman out of the equation. While few would ever argue that she is a natural beauty, her decision to go public with her surgery truly makes her one of the fairest of them all. 

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