Melissa Etheridge: Angelina Jolie's mastectomy 'fearful,' not 'brave'

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by happygirl, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. happygirl

    happygirl DIS Veteran

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    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/...olies-mastectomy-fearful-not-brave-6C10356643
     
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  3. FlightlessDuck

    FlightlessDuck Pluto's personal nose scratcher

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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.
     
  4. Allison

    Allison DIS Veteran

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    Not a big deal. She's been there and made a different decision.
     
  5. NHdisneylover

    NHdisneylover DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  6. Allison

    Allison DIS Veteran

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    I agree.
     
  7. NikitaZee

    NikitaZee DIS Veteran

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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!
     
  8. krcit

    krcit DIS Veteran

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    I agree with you. I like Melissa Etheridge also but I disagree with her on this.
     
  9. FireDancer

    FireDancer DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  10. Hoodie

    Hoodie <font color=purple>Going to BC and GF with one wee

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    I wonder if her opinion would be different if her cancer had returned and she was going through round 2.
     
  11. ptlohmysoul

    ptlohmysoul Mouseketeer

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    I agree that this is how it looks - that's she afraid, but when faced with death and not in a relationship with her Maker, what else would one expect?
     
  12. Nancyg56

    Nancyg56 DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  13. crashbb

    crashbb DIS Veteran

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    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).
     
  14. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    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.
     
  15. lizabu

    lizabu Disney Maniac

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    I'm happy someone gave a different opinion on this procedure. For weeks all we've heard on TV is how brave Angelina is. What she did was pretty drastic (and painful). And it's not the only option. There have to be two sides to every coin. If my Mother died so young maybe I would have done it too. But as a celebrity people look to her as an example and its not the only option available.
     
  16. lovemygoofy

    lovemygoofy DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  17. Nancyg56

    Nancyg56 DIS Veteran

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    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.
     
  18. MerMom60_94

    MerMom60_94 DIS Veteran

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    I agree with both these posts. Well put. I have been bothered since this story came out about Angelina Jolie. As someone who has had a mastectomy and reconstruction, I can tell you first hand it is not easy and we don't all come out looking like Angelina Jolie! I feel like the presentation in the media has made it look a little too easy and I would hate to see any woman make a decision to go the route of a double mastectomy based on what she is seeing in the media. I also was tested for the BRAC gene (post diagnosis) and it luckily came back negative. If it had been positive I was advised I should opt for a double mastectomy. Let me just point out, surgeons make their money from doing surgery. Just because someone tests positive for the gene doesn't mean the cancer will develop anytime soon. There are advances being made every day on breast cancer treatments. By the time the cancer develops, there could be an outright cure or perhaps improved medications to manage the illness. I have a strong family history so my advice for someone who is at high risk is to faithfully do self exams and go for your mammogram. If and when cancer develops you can then opt for an appropriate course of action based on what is available at that time.
     
  19. Poohforyou

    Poohforyou DIS Veteran

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    What the heck makes Etheridge think Jolie didn't properly research her options:confused3.

    Also, now Etheridge is an expect on what causes cancer?

    Perhaps being a mom with 6 kids and not wanting to risk having to deal with cancer treatment during their childhood was enough of a reason for Jolie.

    Talk about kick someone when they're down. Etheridge should just mind her own business about something that doesn't concern her in the slightest way.

    I'm not a Jolie fan but stuff like this just ticks me off.
     
  20. chamonix

    chamonix DIS Veteran DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    She didn't mean Angelina didn't do her research on her options, she was saying all women should research their options before choosing a treatment or procedure, which is the exact same thing Angelina said: ""For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options," Jolie wrote. "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."
     
  21. Allison

    Allison DIS Veteran

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    She didn't say Jolie didn't research her options. She said she wouldn't encourage others to do so without properly researching their options.

    That's true isn't it? Everyone should properly research their options.
     

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