Angelina Jolie revealed in a New York Times Op-Ed article this week that… (Oli Scarff / Getty Images )
Re "Why Jolie's surgery? It's for the kids," Column One, May 15
My story is similar to Angelina Jolie's, though there are some differences. Ten years ago, at the age of 43, I had a prophylactic double mastectomy because I was the single mother of two sons, one of whom has autism. The thought of dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis while raising them was inconceivable.
Although I do not have the BRCA mutation that prompted Jolie to undergo surgery, I had a history of mantle radiation to my chest for the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma in my early 20s. The long-term side effects of the intense, prolonged radiation treatments of the 1980s became apparent many years later. One is an exponentially higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Both of my sons are in their 20s now. Looking back, do I have regrets? Absolutely. I regret having been confronted with such a painful choice. Do I wish I had not had the mastectomy?
Never. The peace of mind that I received in exchange for the loss of my breasts was well worth it. Would I have made that decision if it were not for my boys? Not in a million years.
I can now say that I agree with those who believe that Jolie is one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Medical societies and advocacy groups work year-round to raise awareness about breast and ovarian cancer. In one bold move, Jolie reached more women in a meaningful way than we could have in a decade.
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology, which represents the gynecologic oncologists who provide comprehensive treatment for ovarian cancer, is incredibly grateful to Jolie. We stand ready to serve women who have been diagnosed with or are concerned about gynecologic cancers.
Leslie M. Randall, MD
The writer is an assistant professor of gynecologic oncology at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.
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