Just as Betty Ford's survival was not due to early detection, Rockefeller's survival (she turned 88 in June 2014) unlikely resulted from the prophylactic removal of her second breast. Early detection of breast and other cancers remains a complicated and controversial subject.
What do I have in common with Angelina Jolie? We're both moms. We both discovered through DNA testing that we carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation. We both opted for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to dramatically reduce our risks. And we have both been criticized for our decisions.
Ms. Jolie's reasoning behind going through this process is the integrity of her family. Her mother's loss to cancer was deeply felt and she wishes to avoid this trauma for her own children. Her reasons were her own, and yours will be your own. But at least there is a plan.
Angelina Jolie was not the only one to choose a prophylactic mastectomy. I did, too -- but for different reasons.. (Thank you, Angelina, for making it public. You've given me the courage to write about it for the very first time).
Women with breast cancer should be helped to clearly understand what can and cannot be achieved by prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and the potentially significant risks of the procedure. Doctors, in turn, should accept that a reduction in fear is a worthwhile goal in cancer treatment.