Hide This

FREEHER HealthToolkit

HER Health Toolkit

Sign up for EmpowHER updates and you'll receive our
FREE HER Health Toolkit

Cancer

Get Email Updates

Cancer Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

The Angelina Jolie Challenge

By Dr. Pam Peeke Expert HERWriter
 
Rate This
The Angelina Jolie Challenge 3 5 5
Angelina Jolie meets the challenge
Domen Colja/PhotoSpin

Who can forget the image of fearless archaeologist Lara Croft dangling from a rope two stories high, a gun and knife wedged in thigh holsters, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting enemy? Actress Angelina Jolie made being a strong woman look effortless. Now, faced with a potentially life-threatening challenge, she’s showing a new kind of strength.

In a concise and breathtaking New York Times Op-Ed, Angelina shared a deeply personal part of her life journey that will not only alter her destiny but that of legions of women who may take her words to heart. After witnessing her mother’s decade long battle with ovarian cancer, Angelina sought answers to her own risk through genetic testing. Indeed she was found to carry the BRCA1 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 1) mutation.

Normally this gene helps to maintain the stability of DNA or genetic materials in each cell and prevent any abnormal cell growth. The BRCA1 mutation disrupts this process and increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer to between 55-85%, and that for ovarian cancer 20-60%. A mother of six children, and faced with these sobering statistics, Angelina decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. At some point in the future, she will most likely undergo a removal of her ovaries as well.

Much like her predecessor former First Lady Betty Ford did in 1974 when she publicly disclosed her mastectomy to treat breast cancer, Angelina decided to share her own journey. Why did she go public and what does it mean to you? In her own words, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”

Now openly in the public forum, her dilemma raises a number of questions. First and foremost, who should get tested for this genetic mutation? It’s important to note that the BRCA1 (and BRCA2) mutations are responsible for 5-10% of all breast cancers and 10-15% of ovarian cancers, primarily in white women. In other words, they’re not common.

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I was surprised to know this information about my favorite Hollywood star Ms. Angelina Julie. I admired her personality and a kind of person she is. Very strong woman and a persistent one. This will certainly serve to women as inspiration to fight cancer and hope for the best. - Travis Jones Rush Properties

May 23, 2013 - 7:27am
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Improved

1771 Health

Changed

673 Lives

Saved

534 Lives
4 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Have you ever participated in a clinical trial?:
View Results