is ignorance bliss?

I wasn’t going to write about this or at least not right away. But now I am, because the ignorance out there is astounding. Is ignorance blisss when it comes  to female cancers? I don’t think so.

I am not a big fan of some of the celebrities or reality show types who publicly disclosed their breast cancer and breast cancer choices in the past. A lot of them just use it as free PR for their career and that is distasteful to me.

Angelina Jolie Pitt has used her celebrity for good and almost everything she has done including breast cancer. She has a very personal connection to the disease called cancer  given her familial history and loss.

All the irony is, almost a year to the day of my own full hysterectomy comes her story in the New York Times.

The Opinion Pages  | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR 

Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery

LOS ANGELES — TWO years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy. A simple blood test had revealed that I carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave me an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I lost my mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer.
I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.
I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors…Last week, I had the procedure: a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. There was a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues….It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power.

And there is the key: knowledge is power. Yet given some of the people leaving comments under major media outlet articles you would think we were living in the stone ages.

Take the USA Today article which says in part:

While advances in genetic testing have given people such as Angelina Jolie a wealth of information about their risk of disease, science offers them far fewer ways to act on that knowledge.
Thanks to sophisticated genetic screenings, Jolie was able to find out that she carries a mutation in a gene called BRCA1, which dramatically increases her risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
But the range of prevention strategies available to her — including medications to reduce the risk of both cancers and screenings to find breast tumors early — was much more limited.USA TODAY
Testing for ovarian cancer: What you should know
In the end, she opted for the oldest of all cancer treatments, surgery, which reduces cancer risk for women like her more than any other therapy.

Here are a couple of the comments:

Those comments made me think and whisper quite a few four letter words. Have these guys ever had breast cancer?  I have. Many of my readers have, or friends or loved ones have. And there are no “easy decisions”. Their ignorance is astounding and actually typical for POS Neanderthals.

 I had a full hysterectomy a year ago now it was to prevent further cancers. if I hadn’t had the hysterectomy I was indeed headed towards secondary cancers of reproductive organs based on what they took out of me. So they can just sit down and shut their mouths because they have no idea what women go through when it comes to this. Maybe if someone told them they had to cut off their penis or testicles they might get it but even then I find it doubtful.

I didn’t want to have to go the route of a full hysterectomy, but I’m glad I did. Even if to be brutally honest I hate menopause. Menopause brought on by breast cancer sucks. Women in my family had sleep issues with menopause but I’m the only one that ever has  had hot flashes. I also don’t like the emotional changes and I hate the fact that my skin is dry like the Sahara desert most of the time. 

But the alternative was far more unpleasant. I am alive. And I have further reduced my chance for a recurrence of breast cancer and occurance  of a secondary  cancer.

And the giant fibroids and septating cysts are gone.

I applaud Mrs. Jolie Pitt for using her celebrity for good. She is raising awareness in a way that it needs to be raised. Menopause is not a dirty word anymore than breast cancer and neither is hysterectomy. We need more awareness on the topics, more choices, more medical care, more insurance coverage and fewer ignorant  comments from Neanderthal armchair keyboard  quarterbacks.

For another article on the topic read this one from the Atlantic:

Their Bodies, Ourselves

She’s also breaking a cultural barrier, though. In her essays—the one published today is the sequel to a piece Jolie wrote in 2013, detailing her decision to get a double mastectomy—Jolie has emphasized the fact that she still feels, despite and even because of the surgeries, fully feminine. “I do not feel any less of a woman,” she wrote in 2013. “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” Today’s essay echoes that sentiment: “I feel feminine,” she notes, “and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family.”
This is significant, and not just because Jolie’s openness is bringing normally taboo subjects—menopause, mastectomies—into the public sphere. There’s also the fact that Hollywood has, particularly in its notoriously troublesome dealings with women, emphasized a divide between beauty and health. Or, more specifically, between health and “health.” The media-industrial complex, with its emphasis on images and consumerism, has treated beauty not just as evidence of well-being, but also as something that can be obtained at the expense of it. It has sold us, and particularly women, on beautifying solutions like Botox (the injection of toxic botulism into one’s skin), tanning (UV radiation increasing one’s risk of developing malignant melanoma), and plastic surgery, with all its attendant dangers. It has emphasized, in other words, beauty—which doubles, often, as youth—over longevity….Jolie’s advocacy is especially powerful, though, because the issues she’s discussing—and the issues she is, more importantly, encouraging a discussion about—are intimately connected to cultural assumptions about youth and desirability. Jolie is oversharing, in a way, but it’s a productive form of oversharing—far removed from the vapidities of the Kardashian Selfie or the self-indulgences of Celebrity Instagram. Jolie, in talking about her surgery, is also emphasizing the inextricable connection between inner health and outer beauty. “I feel feminine,” Jolie writes in today’s essay. That declaration is preceded, tellingly, by this one: “I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system.”

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
This entry was posted in breast cancer, health insurance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to is ignorance bliss?

  1. Alene Nitzky says:

    Great post Carla. Yes, we can make decisions to positively impact our health as we go forward. And we can let the Neanderthals go extinct. Very interesting that so many of these ignorant comments were made by men. I’m sure there were a few dumb comments by women too. But everyone has the right to make decisions about their health and their future, and we are lucky to have the knowledge we do. Hopefully we will have even better options as time goes on, thanks to those with non-Neanderthal brains!

  2. J says:

    Would the ON-HIGH JUDGES FROM TEH INTERWEBS come down as hard on a man who, upon being diagnosed with prostate cancer, elected to have said prostate removed?*

    It’s a shame dudes like Robert DeNiro have decided that sharing about such isn’t something they feel comfortable doing. But I respect his decision not to do it. Jolie-Pitt does and is sometimes excoriated (although I’ve read predominantly supportive things….which makes the mouth-breathers stand out so much uglier).

    I’ve coasted the internet for…egads, twenty! years now, and one thing about internet trolls is that they can *sharpen* the arguments against their idiot bloviations, bringing about concision and concurrence and even awareness in a greater group – the better writers/thinkers/communicators shine through to ‘victory’. It’s no easier to take when seen, but…silver lining?

    *read through a forum for prostate cancer patients and…well, I wept all night first I did. Many parallels with BC regarding sexuality and ‘oh, god, is this right?’ kinds of choices, also some really heartbreaking differences. Not that it’s any kind of horrific contest, of course, but a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer are actually greater than women’s for breast cancer. I wish famousy guys would do the same as Jolie-Pitt…at the extremity of least I wonder if they’d get judged and trolled like she does.

  3. You are so right, there are no easy decisions. Facing life saving and life changing decisions just cannot be understood unless you face them yourself. These men have no clue. I also think that decisions like these are so personal. What might be right for one person, may not be right for another. It is Angelina’s body and her life, so I don’t understand why they are so critical of her decision. I coudn’t imagine going through all the procedures and then having the public be so ugly about it. I’m sure it must not be easy.

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