Somehow, I had the impression that an elective mastectomy was different, less invasive than one performed when cancer is present. I convinced myself that the surgery would be more like the cosmetic breast reduction I had four years ago.
I don't know what choice I would personally make if I had this genetic predisposition. I can see both decisions as valid. I do however, have some questions about if I, as a non-celebrity, would have the same options Angelina Jolie and Melissa Etheridge had.
Emotional battle lines were recently drawn when Melissa Etheridge, who has had breast cancer, said that Angelina Jolie, who has not had cancer, did not make "the brave choice" when having preventive surgery because of her BRCA1 status.
I have been involved in research in this area for 17 years, since shortly after BRCA1 and BRCA2 were discovered, and I have no idea what I would do if I were a woman faced with this decision. The diagnosis of a mutation is just words on paper, but the risks they foreshadow are very real.