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

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

  1. Pea-n-Me

    Pea-n-Me DIS Veteran

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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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  3. Poohforyou

    Poohforyou DIS Veteran

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    IMO she implied it with her comments. There was no point to her comments other than to put another woman down for her choices.
     
  4. Gumbo4x4

    Gumbo4x4 Note to the ladies who forgot to

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    I don't really have an opinion on what Jolie did, but I don't think I'd take medical advice from a singer as it relates to what causes cancer - even a type that singer personally survived.
     
  5. Planogirl

    Planogirl I feel the nerd in me stirring

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    I'm personally glad that Melissa spoke up. I think that another perspective is important.
     
  6. Allison

    Allison DIS Veteran

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    Different interpretations I guess.
     
  7. RitaE

    RitaE DIS Veteran

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    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have one of the most aggressive Public Relations staffs in existence. If we weren't hearing about the removal of her ****s, then we'd be stuck with hearing about her dresses or her next soul searching trip to wherever, or her views on eating peas and carrots. To me it all just comes out as blah blah blah blah blah.
     
  8. Prose

    Prose DIS Veteran

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    I don't have a problem with Melissa Etheridge stating that a double mastectomy may not be the best way to prevent cancer, or that she feels diet and mental state have an impact. there are a million different opinions in the breast cancer community about what does or doesn't cause cancer, whether diet can be preventive, whether natural treatments work or don't. Right now there is no definitive proof, so we are all entitled to make what decision we think is best and not bash those who choose otherwise.

    What I disagree with is her calling the decision to have a preventive double mastectomy "fearful." EVERYONE who is either given a high probability of developing cancer or who is actually diagnosed is fearful. If you say you aren't, you're lying. When I was diagnosed, my first thought was "cut them off." My doctors explained that it really wouldn't make a difference in survival or recurrence rate IN MY CASE, so we went with lumpectomy, chemo and radiation instead. Had the prognosis been different, I would have been in surgery asap.

    I have many survivor friends who have had reconstructive surgery. It can be painful and drawn out, and is fraught with possibilities for failure - erupted expanders, breaking skin, failed tissue transfers, infection, and so on. I would never call the decision to go though that ordeal fearful.

    Angelina Jolie made what she thought was the best decision for her and her family. Melissa Etheridge made what she thought was the best decision for her and her family. End of story. I see too many issues becoming divisive - breast vs. bottle, SAHM vs. working mom. We don't need to add this one to the list.

    (off soapbox now......)
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    If you've never been kept awake, night after night, knowing that monster is inside you, then it's hard to understand the fear. Its not something you can put into rational terms. It's like when that car swerves in front of yours on an icy road, and you know that there's not a thing in the world you can do to protect yourself. Only it's not over in an instant; it's not over until they get the moster out. And treat you with radiation, just in case it jumped the chest wall. And until you have an annual check, to ensure that your self exams have caught any remnant of the monster close enough to the surface to be caught. You pray that, if it's in there, it's close enough to catch.

    And, as a mom, it's even worse. My fear wasn't so much that my life would be cut short, but that my kids would grow up without a mom.

    My annual mamo/sonogram on my remaining breast is Friday. Let's just say I'm at the part of the week where I'm not going to sleep well for the next few days. The last time they found a lump, I mentioned to my doctor that, if it kept happening, we were going to talk about another mastectomy.

    A preventative mastectomy isn't the right answer for everyone, or even for everyone who can afford it. And multiple medical opinions are always a good idea. For me, at least up until this point, it hasn't been the right choice. I'll let you know after Friday if it remains my choice for the next year.

    But anyone who has been touched by this disease and doesn't have the good sense to be "fearful" is an idiot. Of COURSE AJ is fearful. I'm hoping that Ms. Etheridge has the good sense to be fearful as well, particularly if she carries the Brach1 gene.

    But doing what you can, at no risk or expense to anyone else, to ensure that your kids grow up with a parent is not cowardly. And I think Ms. Etheridge should have chosen her words more carefully.

    Also, for what it's worth, neither my mastectomy nor the reconstruction surgeries were painful in the least. The closest thing to "painful" was the one time they put the IV into my hand and not my arm. I've had stubbed toes that hurt more. If anyone reading this is facing a mastectomy, know that it doesn't necessarily have to be a nightmare. For me, it was the END of the nightmare.
     
  10. Poohforyou

    Poohforyou DIS Veteran

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    Look to her as an example of what :confused3? Of course what Jolie did isn't the only option and a person would have to be living under a rock to think it was.
     
  11. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

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    I didn't get that at all. What I got from it was that ME acknowledged it was a personal decision that AJ made, but if YOU are in the same position, research it extensively and don't just run out and get it done because some beautiful celebrity with the best doctors in the world got it done and it worked for her.
     
  12. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

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    You don't think people look up to celebrities? If certain celebrities say it is so, then many people in our society believe them. Unfortunate, but true. Oprah anyone?
     
  13. Jennasis

    Jennasis DIS life goes on

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    I can't even begin to imagine why anybody would care what Melissa Etheridge thinks, in particular Angelina Jolie.
     
  14. Planogirl

    Planogirl I feel the nerd in me stirring

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    I like to hear what ANYONE thinks, celebrity or otherwise. This is serious business and I think that hearing about people's experiences is helpful.
     
  15. EMom

    EMom <font color=red>Comes from a long line of all fork

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    I don't really like AJ and certainly don't look to her as an example. However, I would have done the same thing she did. Simple math skills tell you that it's better to have a 5% chance of getting cancer than an 85% chance. If someone told me I had an 85% chance of getting cancer, hell yes, I would be fearful. And then, I'd try and figure out what I could do to minimize those odds.

    Frankly, I'd take surgery odds over the odds I'd get from eating vegan, doing yoga and singing Kum Ba Yah. Because plenty of healthy living, positive thinking, dang near angels on earth get cancer.

    I wouldn't classify AJ's decision as brave, but I do think it was wise, informed and the smartest thing to do. The woman has 6 kids to raise and would probably like to see them reach adulthood.
     

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