Shocking, isn’t it, when I put it like that?
I was shocked, when I heard, the other day, that Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy as a result of her family medical history, her mother’s death, and her own dramatically increased likelihood of being a victim of breast cancer.
I was shocked that it is sixteen years since her mother’s initial diagnosis, and six years since her death, at the age of fifty-six.
I was shocked that Angelina Jolie is now within striking distance of forty!
I was not at all surprised by the media circus surrounding the announcement, nor that Ms Jolie decided to make a statement about her choices and her surgery in the press. I hope that what she has done will help to raise awareness for breast cancer and for preventive measures and care.
This is a very personal story, however, and one that affects very few women, most of whom will already be aware of their increased risks from the disease, because most of them will already have seen too many of the women they love suffer and die from this disease. The rest of us, those of us who follow the Stars, live in the first World and have all the benefits of modern medicine, including breast screening.
First World women will not be helped much by Ms Jolie exposing herself in this way, and the rest of the World’s women are unlikely to be helped at all.
I hope that Ms Jolie made good choices for herself, and that she has escaped a miserable fate. I hope that she lives a long, happy, productive life, raises her children and grandchildren, and even bounces her great-grandchildren on her slender, pretty knees in the decades to come.
I can’t help wondering, though, who advised her to go public with this very private information. I can’t help wondering which publicist sat down with what spin doctor and decided that if word ever got out that Ms Jolie had spent time in hospital and hadn’t been forthcoming about it, her reputation could be irreparably damaged. I can’t help wondering who stood up in a meeting and suggested that all hell might break loose if anyone ever found out that Ms Jolie’s perfect breasts had ever been under a surgeon’s knife, for any reason.
Do they look a little higher or firmer or rounder, or even bigger than they used to, or should for a woman her age?
I don’t read gossip, but it seems to endure in the World’s press and get more speculative and less pleasant with every year that passes. Who’s sleeping with who? And who’s had what work done? And is that a baby bump? And how much cellulite can one pair of thighs possibly sustain? seem to be burning questions in the minds of so-called journalists.
If I was Ms Jolie, I’m not sure I’d want the World to know what medical procedures I might have undergone, or why. I think the personal cost hugely outweighs any good she can possibly do for any potential breast cancer victim of her particular stripe, and I think her ‘people’ have done her a disservice.
Today I saw a comment on a newsfeed, suggesting that Ms Jolie couldn’t possibly know what other women in the same position go through, simply because she happens to be able to afford the best medical care and reconstructive surgery, as if that makes up for the trauma of the decision-making process or of losing her breasts, let alone her mother. Most women going through this don’t have the gaze of a hungry, bitter, cynical public on them, either.
I rather wish Ms Jolie’s ‘people’ had advised her differently... I rather fear that this is all she’ll ever be allowed to talk about from now on.
I also wonder how Hollywood will treat her. Notoriously conservative, TinselTown struggles to cast gay actors as leading men...
... It’s not a huge leap to wonder how the powers that be will deal with this, is it?