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Thank you, Angelina Jolie: How an Ounce of Prevention Empowered a Culture

Posted on Wed, May 15, 2013

angelina.jpgBy Rosilyn Rayborn, Social Media Specialist

By now you’ve seen the headline: Angelina Jolie has publicly announced that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed that she carried the "faulty" BRCA1 gene that gave her an 87 percent risk of breast cancer.

This information, coupled with Angelina witnessing her own mother’s 8-year struggle with ovarian cancer led to her decision.

“My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," Angelina wrote in her New York Times piece.

This is not the first time a public figure has opened up about preventive mastectomy. In January, Miss America contestant, Allyn Rose, made headlines with her plan to pursue the procedure after the pageant. While Rose doesn’t carry the “faulty” BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, she did witness her mother, grandmother and aunt succumbing to breast cancer.

"My mom would have given up every part of her body to be here for me. If there's something that I can do to be proactive, it might hurt my body, it might hurt my physical beauty, but I'm going to be alive," Rose said in an interview.

According to the Annals of Surgical Oncology, the number of women opting for preventivebreast cancer Allyn-Rose.jpgprevention mastectomies increased 10-fold between 1998 and 2007 and because of the display of bravery and shown by Jolie and Rose, we can expect this number to rise.

While there are physicians who are on both sides of the argument when it comes to who should get the procedure, what both of these women have done for the state of breast cancer awareness is tremendous. By placing this issue at the forefront of the news media they’ve initiated the conversation.

Because of Angelina Jolie and Allyn Rose, women around the world know that the double mastectomy procedure is a viable option and they can seek more information to decide if it’s the right choice for them.

And by seeing women who are known for their beauty and femininity choose their health first, women are also receiving the message that their womanhood is not something that can be stripped away with the removal of their breasts.

"I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie wrote. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

Thank you to these women for speaking up and adding more depth to the conversation around breast cancer awareness. Your ounce of prevention just made an immeasurable impact in the fabric of our culture.

Click here to read Angelina Jolie’s full New York Times article about her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy.

Angelina Jolie photo via IMDB. Allyn Rose photo via NBC Bay Area 

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