I think I understand what Angelina Jolie is trying to do with her choice to publicize her choice to have a double preventative mastectormy: she’s trying to use her celebrity for a good purpose. I admire that.
I also admire my friend Sue Katz whose blog on the subject must simply be repeated. This is from Katz’s blog called Consenting Adult. Here’s the URL if you want to climb around some more: http://suekatz.typepad.com/sue_katz_consenting_adult/2013/05/preventative-mastectomy-do-you-trust-the-medical-establishment.html
17 MAY 2013
Preventative Mastectomy: Do You Trust the Medical Establishment?
by Sue Katz
Let me start by saying that I know nothing whatsoever about medicine other than what I have picked up from living 65 years. So this is my gut reaction to the issues Angelina Jolie’s NY Times article have raised.
I don’t often take up advice that the medical establishment offers, because I’m old enough to have seen almost all of it reversed. Don’t eat the yellows of eggs: no, do. Use margarine instead of butter, no don’t. Sweet & Low is a great substitute for sugar; oops. Buy pure bottled water; oh dear, it’s just water with a label and a price. Wine? Chocolate? Have a pap smear every single year; no, don’t bother. Mammograms? Who knows. Fosamax, taken by women with osteoporosis for decades to strengthen bones, can cause them to break. The latest reversal I’ve noticed relates to the “evils” of salt.
I give you this long introduction as a way of explaining that I just don’t buy any of it. I did my MA thesis back in the mid-80s on “The Lie of Gender” in which I showed how the absolutist “scientific” declarations of the medical establishment about gender differences (such as brain size) were a pile of hogwash, and how they were all reversed in various ways. Science has yet to find a fool-proof, universal method of establishing gender – perhaps because they think there’re only two. I have observed that science is a tool of the changing needs of the ruling classes. But I digress.
So now they’ve’ve learned about all of these genes– some of them actually OWNED by people and institutions. I mean genes – human genes – that are patented. The science-industrial complex gone completely wacky. But that too is another story.
I don’t trust anything medical that hasn’t proven itself for a couple of decades. I am wary of the new conclusions based on the Genome project. I am wary of anything at all that predicts outcomes based purely on one’s chromosomes. “Female” chromosomes, let us not forget, were the reason (excuse) why we couldn’t run Marathons, own property, work as engineers, drive big trucks, wear pants, vote. They are still the justification in many countries for many limitations: from divorcing a mate to going to school.
Biology, I have written literally hundreds of times, is not destiny. By that I mean that it should not be destiny. Cancer is surely impacted by diet, carcinogens in the environment, access to medical care, and, frankly, we don’t know what else. Making decisions based on a genetic map seems freaky to me. Making decisions based on predicted percentages seems even freakier. Of course, considering the price of those maps, few of us will be opting for elected mastectomies. Angelina Jolie has the benefit of privilege on many levels, from economic to international reassurance of her attractiveness to having a wealthy, supportive partner to so much more. She can do whatever she wants with her body, as far as I’m concerned, and so can any other person.
But if medical science tells me I’ve got an “87 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer” – I’m going to question such precise figures 100% of the time. Science is, after all, a rather malleable practice. Remember, Pluto used to be a planet.
So, Angelina, I’m sorry they scared you so badly and I hope you made the best decision for yourself.
And, Beloved, statistics are just numbers used in a scary way. Go deep within to find out your truth and live that—not the “truth” of the statistics, or the medical establishment, or Angelina Jolie.