Angelina Jolie’s decision is no prescription for Ms Anita American Ordinary
Don’t want to be curmudgeonly but it’s probably easier for Angelina Jolie to have an optional double mastectomy than for Anita American Ordinary. Not easier as a woman (with all the tangled self-image issues that arise very naturally and strongly) but easier in a monetary sense.
A mastectomy is expensive – ask anyone who’s ever had one or those who perform them. My sister is a breast cancer consultant in the north-west of England and she specializes in reconstructive surgery. I rather think she would probably understand exactly what Ms Jolie means when she talks about the “results” of the reconstruction process “with an implant” being “beautiful”.
But it’s hardly cheap and it’s certainly not easy. However Ms Jolie explains it, her “medical choice” (as the New York Times op-ed article is titled) suggests vanity surgery (in an inverted sort of way). It is something a wealthy woman with who lacks for nothing can afford to do because we humans chase the chimera of living longer, healthier and better than our ancestors.
Ms Jolie says she carried a faulty BRAC gene putting her at high risk of breast cancer.
Here’s what this Washington Post blog says:
“Figuring out which women should have the expensive screening for a relatively rare genetic mutation is a vexing task. Researchers have no bright line between the portion of the population that is and is not at risk.
“Researchers estimate that 0.11 to 0.12 percent of women in the general population carry either of the BRCA mutations. The prevalence is higher among certain ethnic groups, such as Ashkenazi Jews, where it is estimated that 2 percent of women carry the mutation.
The BRCAnalysis screening costs as much as $3,000…”
That said, if you can afford it, why not do whatever you can to lengthen your life? On the off-chance that you can ward off cancer. If you can, then have it. If you want it, and if you can.
But it’s probably not a prescription for Ms A Ordinary. Especially, given the current parlous state of health insurance coverage (and extortionate costs) in the US.