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Old 06-19-2013, 07:38 AM   #1
happygirl
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Melissa Etheridge: Angelina Jolie's mastectomy 'fearful,' not 'brave'

June 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM ET



Angelina Jolie's decision to get a double mastectomy after learning she had the breast cancer gene mutation has been lauded by many as courageous, empowering, and even heroic. But singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge -- a breast cancer survivor herself -- thinks it's actually the opposite of those things.

Asked about Jolie's recent New York Times op-ed, in which she revealed the news of her mastectomy and breast reconstruction, Etheridge told the Washington Blade that she wouldn't make the same decision for herself. Nor would she encourage others to do so without properly researching their options.

"I have to say I feel a little differently," the Grammy-winning chanteuse (who, incidentally, performed at Brad Pitt's wedding to Jennifer Aniston) said of the choice to get a preventive mastectomy. "I have that gene mutation too, and it's not something I would believe in for myself. I wouldn't call it the brave choice. I actually think it's the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer."

"My belief is that cancer comes from inside you, and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It's the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything, but it never comes to cancer," she continued, noting that surgical removal of one's breasts is "way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do" to lessen your risk of the disease.



"I've been cancer-free for nine years now, and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer," she added. "There was so much acidity in everything. I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion (of a mastectomy)."

To be fair, Jolie said in her May 14 editorial that the decision to have a mastectomy was a personal one. Her main point was that women should be informed about the various options available to them.


"I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices," she wrote.



"Life comes with many challenges," she explained. "The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."


http://www.today.com/entertainment/m...ave-6C10356643
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:43 AM   #2
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Being a man, I have absolutely no right to have an opinion on this subject, but Melissa has a point.

Although I guess as a man, I could say I would not have my testicles removed just because my family has a history of testicular cancer. That seems short-sighted.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:45 AM   #3
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Not a big deal. She's been there and made a different decision.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:50 AM   #4
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It sounds like she was responding only when asked about it and was respectful of Jolie's decision while explaining why she, personally, feels differently and would not encourage others to follow suit.
I do not see anything wrong with how either woman has handled things.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by NHdisneylover View Post
It sounds like she was responding only when asked about it and was respectful of Jolie's decision while explaining why she, personally, feels differently and would not encourage others to follow suit.
I do not see anything wrong with how either woman has handled things.
I agree.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:53 AM   #6
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I disagree with Melissa Etheridge. I'd like to see statistics showing that diet and stress reduction would have brought down Ms. Jolie's breast cancer risk down to (or anywhere near) the 5% her preventative mastectomy has done ... or any numbers backed by medical science - otherwise she should't call Angelina's choice 'way down the line' of what a woman should do. And, I would still call going through that a brave choice. Still like Melissa Etheridge though!
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:57 AM   #7
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I disagree with Melissa Etheridge. I'd like to see statistics showing that diet and stress reduction would have brought down Ms. Jolie's breast cancer risk down to (or anywhere near) the 5% her preventative mastectomy has done ... or any numbers backed by medical science - otherwise she should't call Angelina's choice 'way down the line' of what a woman should do. And, I would still call going through that a brave choice. Still like Melissa Etheridge though!
I agree with you. I like Melissa Etheridge also but I disagree with her on this.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:42 AM   #8
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I agree with you. I like Melissa Etheridge also but I disagree with her on this.

Right now the American cancer Society is conducting their third comprehensive cancer prevention study. Perhaps after this study, which will go on for 20 years, is completed and the data is analyzed, we will have a better answer in regards to cancer and contributing factors. Until we have more information, we really should assume that lifestyle choices make differences where cancers are concerned. I agree that AJ has reduced her chances of breast cancer dramatically, but there is so much we do not know yet. I believe that ME is correct in her opinion that lifestyle choices do impact our body's ability to combat cancer, so a radical double mastectomy may not have been he only way to diminish the risk.
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:25 AM   #9
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Stressors come in a lot of ways. There is no question that stressors play a role in whether someone who is prone to cancer (and other diseases) actually gets cancer (or other diseases) or not.

But I think that people sometimes mistake "stressors" for "lifestyle choices" (which, of course, can be included in stressors, but they aren't the whole story). Stressors that play a role in disease start from the time we're young and accumultate throughout our lifetimes. It is this "stress load" that can put us over the edge toward disease, according to Dr. Herbert Benson, the father of Mind/Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. ((I've taken his Mind/Body course and it is fascinating.)

I am a breast cancer survivor (and health professional), and what I learned about it (from Dr. Susan Love, one of the world's authorities on breast cancer) is that, when cancer is found, those cells started mutating years before - as many as 8 years before. Also, that many of us have cancer cells floating around our bodies, but that our own immune systems identify and eliminate these unhealthy cells - if our immune systems are working properly. Therefore it is helpful to maintain a healthy immune system. And naturally, one does that from living a healthy lifestyle. However, stressors from earlier in our lives still play a part, since it is lifetime stress load that can push us over the edge. Some of these earlier stressors can't be helped - such as a stressful family situation, an early death, abuse, neglect, illness, etc. Additionally, as healthy a lifestyle as we may live, we all still have stress. We still experience job stress, family stress, financial worries, deaths of loved ones, moving, health scares, and any number of other stressors, regularly as we live our daily lives.

I know a guy who likes to talk about how "healthy" he is. He exercises, eats right, is in good physical shape, etc. But I have to chuckle a bit because he is truly one of the most Type A/uptight people I know. Always internally stressed. Got news for you, folks, that's as unhealthy as anything else!Family history also plays a HUGE part in disease proliferation.

So I do understand what Melissa Etheridge is saying. But personally, I disagree with her. Preventing breast cancer is huge, and IF (and it's a big if) your risks identify you as someone who's likely to get it, I wholeheartedly support taking the same measures that AJ did. Why? Because treatment of it does not compare to never having it. Once you have invasive breast cancer, there is a chance that it traveled to distant organs before you found it, and it can resurface again as a metastasis (which is what you die from with cancer). I did not have a mother who died of bc, nor did I have reason to be gene tested, etc. But if I did, knowing what I know now, I would absolutely do preventative surgery.

In the end, it IS a personal choice, and people need to do what they are comfortable with. I don't think individual choices should be criticized.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:58 AM   #10
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Neither option is wrong, they are just different. Personally I would not remove a body part because it might get cancer later but I don't think making that choice is wrong or inferior or anything.

I was a little surprised at some of the negative press Angelina got. Just because she made a choice that is different than someone else doesn't make her choice wrong. It is her body after all.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:14 AM   #11
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I wonder if her opinion would be different if her cancer had returned and she was going through round 2.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:32 AM   #12
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I think that part of the issue is not that Angelina Jolie made the decision to have the mastectomy in response to the gene, but that in many outlets, that decision was praised as the "right" and "brave" decision. Right now, this treatment plan is pretty radical and not every Dr agrees that this is the best decision for every woman who carries the gene. Any surgery carries risk, and while this decision was right for her, it may not be the appropriate avenue for other women.

I don't have an opinion, not one way or another, because only AJ and her Drs know her entire health history, but how many people, after all of this coverage, think that this is the treatment plan that is appropriate for women with this gene? By questioning Melissa Etheridge about how she feels about the decision, the media actually depersonalizes the very singular decision that AJ made. What difference does it make what one breast cancer survivor thinks about another woman's treatment plan?

I think that while AJ made a decision that was right for her, there is so much we need to know about cancer and what contributing factors there are in any individual life before any outsider can even have an informed discussion about her choice. In this, Melissa Etheridge was correct, IMO. Women who are battling cancer are brave and courageous. A women who has not been diagnosed is certainly not making decisions based on what is but on what may be. I don't think that is wrong, but I cannot compare the former group of women with AJ.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:37 AM   #13
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Not a big deal. She's been there and made a different decision.
I'm not actually sure that she's "been there". The article (and other articles that I've read) says that Melissa has the gene, but not when she found out that she had the gene. Many people get tested after they are diagnosed, and it is very possible that Melissa did as well. This means that she never had the chance to make the choice that Angelina did.

I will say that I don't find anything wrong with her opinion or how she expressed it. I have "been there" and have not chosen to have preventative surgery - it just isn't the right choice for me (at this time).
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:39 AM   #14
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My friend and I are going through this conversation over and over now. My friend was recently diagnosed with skin cancer and getting light therapy for it now. However, her mother died of breast cancer and her doctor had her tested for the cancer gene. It came back positive.

Now the doctor wants her to have the double mastectomy AND a full hysterectomy. I told her to just slow down and talk to some other specialist and get another opinion before drastic decisions. That is two large important surgeries to have on a probable chance!

I understand why someone wants that surgery to lessen the percentage but it never goes away totally. Frankly it will always be a numbers game when it comes to cancer.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:39 AM   #15
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I wonder if her opinion would be different if her cancer had returned and she was going through round 2.
I agree its all about perspective and choice. I really don't like how Melissa Etheridge is calling Angelina Jolie out on something so deeply personal.
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