Monday, June 3, 2013

The elected double mastectomy

A lot has been buzzing around about Angelina Jolie and her double mastectomy.
I will not download pictures of her or quotes from her recent interviews. I have no wish
to use her image to sell my blog. My blogs are my opinions, nothing more. But such a
strong opinion has developed in me over Angelina's recent activity that I couldn't stay
away from this page. I had to get my thoughts out.
First let me say that my grandmother had a double mastectomy. She was a breast cancer
survivor. I've a very close friend who has had regularly scheduled mammograms from early in
her life because of the frequency with which her family has encountered the cancer. I take
breast cancer and all cancer very seriously.
But not as seriously as I take life.
Life is more important then cancer.
It always will be.
But when thinking about cancer,
preparing for it, and preventing it, becomes a priority in life my skin begins to crawl.
It was because of the discovery of a faulty gene, one that makes breast cancer far
more likely for the carrier, that Ms. Jolie decided to undergo a preemptive, preventative
double mastectomy. She is a mother of six. She wants to live.
I can understand that,
more then understand that. My son is my reason for living. He is "my best thing".
I'd take out anyone who may take something away from his life,
I'd even take on death itself.
But is that what Ms. Jolie did?
Because I don't think so.
She decided to play into the odds that, because of this gene, she had a 60% chance of developing
breast cancer. She decided to decide that cancer was inevitable because of this specific
gene that may or may not decide to show itself.
It is her right. Had she decided to take off her breasts simply for aesthetic preferences,
it is her right. That is her body, she can do what she likes with it. And she's never been a particularly
conventional girl so it wouldn't have shocked me. But my concern is not for her actions,
but in the reactions of the press and public.
Ms. Jolie is a hero.
She is being hailed as "brave" and "strong".
I do not agree.
I do not believe that bravery and strength is reactionary to "maybe" and "what if".
Nor do I believe that either can live where one is so willing to surrender to a "possibility".
My possibilities for success, based on my birth place and life experiences thus far, is slim to
none. Should I play the odds and stop trying?
Athletes throw themselves into harms way daily, making their bodies 95% more likely then mine to
be injured, possibly irrevocably.
Should they stop playing?
But Beyond the playing of probabilies,
what of all this making God out of science?
Now science not only creates life, but is the sole provider of it's sanctity as well?
Genetics is now predicting our future and it is brave, strong and, yes,
(at least this is what the press implies)
MORAL to concede to it's predictions!
Are we living in the world of The Minority Report?
We can now predict and are being encouraged to react to what MIGHT happen as
what inevitable WILL happen and so here comes our higher evolution.
But I think it's de-evolution.
Because once upon a time people were brave enough to not have to predict the future to get
through each day.
They used a thing called faith and it worked very well.
And yes, sickness would come
and so would death.
But that didn't scare people either.
Not only because of the belief in an after life, because not everyone with faith believes in an after-life,
but because of their belief in the sanctity of life, and it's right to run out of us as surely as it
ran into us.
Fighting for our lives is at the core of who we are as a species. Every species is programed to
do what it must to survive.
But is this what we're doing?
Are we attempting to survive, or refusing survival by attempting to take out any and all obstacles?
To me, survival is not so simple as preserving our lives or extending our life span. It's about facing
down obstacles and persevering through them.
This is not what we do when we decide to react to what MIGHT happen as if it were what WILL happen.
When we do this we are actually cowering out of a potential challenge, a chance to show
how well we can survive.
Life is not merely a chance to preserve ourselves for as long as we can.
In fact I do not believe that is what life is at all.
Life is a series of experiences to be learned from and to grow from,
NOT to run from. Especially when what you're running from is a mist or a shadow
from some kind of fortune teller-
even when they call themselves "Doctor".
My heart goes out to Ms. Jolie. Because to me it looks as if she has deduced a sickness in her chest
and wrongfully focused on her breasts. The way I see it, her ailment is in her heart. She has never dealt with
the death of her beloved mother and her sadness has grown into fear and that fear into a convoluted logic that somehow what she's done can prevent her children from ever experiencing the same pain.
I get that.
None of us want our children to suffer, physically or emotionally.
But when we treat illness it's nonsense not medicine to treat the wrong organ,
to misfire and direct our 'treatment' toward something easy to ascertain instead of what is more
difficult to understand.
This will not relieve her fear.
It will be back again. And no, I can't predict the future.
But I know that fear grows when it is unhampered. It's not like a dormant gene.
It shows itself in many ways from the moment it creeps into our souls.
And it festers.
What frightens me over this situation is that fear has been dressed up as courage, wisdom
and yes, morality.
It's taken on that guise before and never lead us in good directions.
For all those women, and men, who have been touched by breast cancer,
my heart goes out to you. And I admire your struggle. I admire your courage in the face
of an obstacle that you choose to confront and fight everyday.
Understand that even for those of you who will loose the battle, you have not lost even
one moment of your life.
Because life means living. And death can happen even before you stop breathing.

2 comments:

  1. Hi there, I was actually just reading up on this post and just had a quick question about your blog. I couldn't find any contact info and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance, thanks~

    Emily

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    Replies
    1. Hey Emily! Thanks for reading. You've done what you set out to do: you've contacted me. Feel free to post your question.
      My personal contact information I keep to myself. For privacy sake.

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