In the summer of 2013, Angelina Jolie set a shining example for women all over the world by taking the daring decision to undergo a double mastectomy. She was found to have a mutation in a gene called BRCA1, which considerably increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in women. Jolie watched her mother die at the age of 56, battling cancer for almost a decade, and did not want to suffer the same fate at the hands of this deadly disease. Her move inspired millions of women worldwide. From a hedonist to a humanitarian, Jolie taught us some valuable breast cancer lessons.
You have the power to defeat cancer
Instead of letting cancer take over you and defeat you, you can turn the tables around and defeat cancer yourself. What Jolie taught us here is that the power lies within you. You are in-charge. If you have a family history of cancer, then you can make the same choice fearlessly. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
Don’t be afraid, be brave
Jolie’s act was a remarkable display of courage. Most of the women get cold feet and become paranoid just at the thought of getting breast cancer. But Jolie showed us how to take that in our stride in a bold and classy way. “I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,” she wrote. “But it is one I am very happy that I made.” Even though some of life’s decisions are tough, we’ve got to buckle up and choose the right way.
Don’t take the backseat, be proactive instead
As Jolie herself says it, “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could.” Finding out your reality is not the only thing to do, it’s not enough. Once you find out you’re at high risk, it is equally important to be proactive and take a firm stand. Jolie, by doing what she did, inspired us to win the battle against cancer.
Mastectomy doesn’t make you any less of a woman
Many women fear that undergoing mastectomy is equivalent to losing their feminine identity. But Jolie taught us that there’s a sense of empowerment in having control over your own body. “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” True femininity lies in embracing who you are and in standing your ground. Being a strong and powerful woman doesn’t undermine your femininity, it only enhances it.
Spread the word
The purpose of getting her breasts and ovaries removed and turning it into public news was not something Jolie did to garner publicity for herself. She wants to educate women and spread breast cancer awareness. She wants every woman at a high risk to know that there’s hope for them. By sharing her story, she inspired us to share our stories as well so we can educate those who are in need.
Jolie showed us a path we could walk on, and it’s our turn to tread on it boldly.