Angelina Jolie has often been in the media – she is, after all, half of the Hollywood power couple, Brangelina. But this time the story appeared not in a tabloid gossip column but in the New York Times Op-Ed page. It was one she had written herself, entitled, My Medical Choice and it revealed an important personal decision Ms. Jolie had made. Learning that she had a mutated BRCA1 gene – increasing her risk of breast and ovarian cancers – and deeply saddened by the loss of her mother to ovarian cancer, she chose to have a prophylactic double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery.
Jolie explained that she went public about her medical procedure in order to encourage a discussion about the risks of breast cancer and the various alternatives to deal with it. Noting that every woman’s circumstances might be different, she had thoroughly researched her options and came to her own decision with the support of her family and medical team. Jolie encourages every woman to take control and make her own informed choices.
With close to a quarter-million women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, discussion about Jolie’s article has hit close to home for many American families. Most of us have a close friend or family member who’s had breast cancer – or we’ve had it ourselves. So both in person and over the Internet, women have been discussing the types of screening available, the pros and cons of preventative treatment, and the various options for therapy if breast cancer is diagnosed.
Since mammography is the most widespread screening tool offered, it’s important to make it available to low-income women, many of whom are without health insurance. This summer, we’ll be participating in a unique fundraising activity, raising money to help support the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Examination Center of Harlem. It’s called a MoonWalk and will take place in New York. We’ll begin at midnight and complete a full or half-marathon, power walking the streets of Manhattan.
As a breast cancer survivor myself, I’ve participated in many walks in the past to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment. Each time, I’ve felt inspired by the other women participating and empowered by my own efforts. So I’m looking forward to being a part of the Moonwalk this July in New York. Join us if you can!