On Tuesday, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie released an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery.” The article revealed her choice to remove both her ovaries and fallopian tubes just two years after she had a double mastectomy — a decision she also publicized.
Her essay was both a raw and very personal account of the journey to make the decision, given her family’s history of cancer and a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. Personal essays like Jolie Pitt’s are a step in the right direction to increase the number of conversations about cancers that directly affect women.
One of the points most emphasized in Jolie Pitt’s essay is that she made the decision to have the surgery with her family in mind.
While she could have solely focused on how the possibility of cancer directly affected her, she chose to mention how her role as a mother played into the decision-making process.
At one point in the essay, she triumphantly states that by removing her ovaries she knows that her kids will never say, “Mom died of ovarian cancer.”
The mention of how cancer and family relate is a topic that is especially relevant as each year an estimated 20,000 women will develop ovarian cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, the CDC also cites that breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women in the United States. Because of this, conversations regarding family and cancer in women’s lives are growing increasingly vital as research develops in the field.
Whether a woman has kids or plans to have kids in the future, the effects of cancers that directly affect the reproductive system adds another dimension to the toll the disease can have on a person’s life.
Like Jolie Pitt states in her article, deciding how to deal with cancer or the possibility of it is ultimately a personal choice. It requires research and much deliberation.
It’s important to note that the only problem with Jolie Pitt’s encouragement for women to “take control” and “tackle head-on” issues regarding their health is the fact that this is a call that is easier said than done for many women around the world.
Financially speaking, multiple screenings, doctor visits and treatment is more than some women can afford.
That is why we must be willing to support charities that help research and treat cancer among women.
When we help give women the means to deal with the issue of cancer, we help empower them to make the appropriate choices concerning their health and, most importantly, their future.
Didi Martinez is a freshman political science and journalism double major from Katy. She is the copy editor and a regular columnist for the Lariat.