Cancer is one of the most terrible words in the English language. Whether you have cancer, know someone who has cancer, or the worst—lost someone to cancer; the majority of time that the word is thrown around is in a negative way. Cancer has no boundaries. It slithers itself into the lives anyone it pleases, taking down its prey in a variety of different ways. The venom isn’t always lethal, but the attack may be the first of many battles in the life of unfortunate victim. Many lives are saved, but just as many—or more—are lost.
Obviously cancer isn’t exactly one of the “coolest” things to talk about, so it doesn’t make many appearances in “popular culture” today. Yes, there are numerous celebrities who show their support by raising money for research and awareness, but sometimes it seems like these people are indestructible due to their high status and utter stardom. When a celebrity reveals that he or she is not only a “star” but also a cancer patient, it really helps those “regular” people like us realize that we aren’t the only ones struggling.
Angelina Jolie—one of the most powerful female celebrities of our time—revealed today that she took preemptive measures to protect herself from the inevitable, and she shared this story in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Jolie shares that she has a “faulty gene” that she inherited from her mother—who lost her battle with breast cancer at the young age of 56—that will most likely cause her to develop breast or ovarian cancer. She decided to undergo a double mastectomy because her doctors informed her that since she carried the same gene as her mother, known as BRCA1, she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer (though other women with this gene may have different odds, she says).
Jolie has done many shocking things in her day, but this is one of the most inspirational of them all. For any woman to undergo such a procedure it’s not only painful physically, but emotionally as well. The scars from surgery will heal and hopefully the cancer scare will disappear, but to look down and no longer see part of what makes you a “woman” must be so difficult. As a young woman, I look up to her for this motivational decision. Although I hope to never have to personally experience this, I know that if I do—or if someone else I know does—I can be strong enough to realize that I CAN persevere.
Cheers to you, Angelina, and to ALL the women across the world fighting cancer, whether in the past, present, or the future. We’re with you.
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