In the wake of Angelina Jolie’s stunning double mastectomy news, we wanted to speak with a genetic counselor to find out a little bit more about how Angelina Jolie — and so many other women — came to the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy done. Jolie came to the decision after finding out that she had a mutation in her BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the likelihood of breast cancer in women. The two complicit genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 were first discovered by researchers in the early 90s, who identified them as the root cause of a genetic predisposition to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. According to researchers, hereditary cancer accounts for between 3 and 5 percent of all cases of breast and ovarian cancers, which sounds like a small number, but actually amounts to tens of thousands of cases a year.
To find out more about these genes, the tests that detect them, and the difficult decision Angelina Jolie and so many other women make to prevent breast cancer, we spoke with Gina Nuccio, a genetic counselor at Baptist Memorial Health Care, a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Keep reading »
In a stunning New York Times op-ed piece, Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d recently had a double mastectomy. The actress and mother of 6 revealed that she’d considered the procedure after finding out that she carries a mutation in her BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases a woman’s risk for both breast and ovarian cancers.
Thanks to the gene, “my doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” she writes. Keep reading »
Perhaps you missed this, but last week, Facebook was in a tizzy over a topless photo of a breast cancer survivor showing off her chest tattoo. The piece was meant as a celebration of her survival and a means of covering up her mastectomy scars, but Facebook classified the image as “pornographic.” The company’s official stance on photos says that Facebook “aspires to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.” Keep reading »
Did you know that about 10,000 “young” women will get breast cancer this year? I do now. I am one of them.
It all started while my boyfriend and I were away for a long weekend to celebrate my 29th birthday. We were lying in bed and I reached my arm across my body. There it was — a lump, in my breast. It was big, and it was bumpy; it felt like a mutant cauliflower had taken root in the soft tissue of my otherwise pillowy breasts.
This was new. Three short months earlier, I had had a breast exam during my yearly OB-GYN exam. My doctor didn’t feel a thing. I had always been hyper aware of my breasts, ever since an ex-boyfriend found a 2 cm jelly bean (which turned out to be a harmless fyberadenoma) and my doctor had told me that I should pay attention to it and watch for changes.
That jellybean was my first of what would be many biopsies. Keep reading »
For all the talk about Miss America being a “scholarship program,” we all know that at its essence, it’s still more a beauty contest than anything else. And even though the definition of beauty has evolved in so many ways over the years, some notions of it have not changed. Which is why current Miss District of Columbia (and former Miss Maryland) Allyn Rose has received hate mail over her plans for a double mastectomy. It turns out some die-hard pageant fans feel that a woman without breasts can’t meet the requirements of the title.
Allyn is planning to get a double mastectomy after her year of service as Miss DC or Miss America is over. Her mom, grandmother, and aunt all died of the disease and she feels as though this is her best chance of beating it. The preventative mastectomy has long been a controversial choice for women. Some people bristle at the idea of removing your breast before there is a confirmed problem. But for Allyn, it’s the safest option for a healthy future. “For me, breast cancer is not a matter of if. It’s almost a matter of when,” she told “Today.” Read more…
Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and started treatment–a brutal trifecta of chemo, surgery, and radiation–in January. When she finally finished, her friend Michael mentioned that she deserved a medal for her accomplishment. And then he made her one, complete with an inscription declaring her the winner of the “Poison, Cut, Burn Tri.” Jardin was thrilled: “I want to give one to everyone I meet who makes it through to a similarly meaningful milestone in their cancer treatment,” she says. “This is so much better than a pink ribbon.” Keep reading »