I know I’ve been quiet again for a while, but with Angelina Jolie’s big announcement last night, I feel like for the first time in a while I have something to say.
See, I’ve been in a bit of a wallow. And since the wallow has been more about self-loathing than anything else, it didn’t feel OK to dump here, when it feels like that’s all I’ve done lately. You’d think that the hardest part for me was when I was undergoing chemo, or the weeks of getting my boobs pumped up, and physically, that’s true. But for some reason, emotionally, I’ve hit the hard part now.
Reading through her experience, she went through a LOT of what I did, although it sounds like they saved her nipples. I don’t know that it could have been an option for me since we were doing such a serious size reduction. She also didn’t have chemo, since she had not been diagnosed with cancer, and I’m sure won’t get to join me on Tamoxifen.
Anyhow the line that really struck me was, “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
See- I felt that way at first too. I was not only kicking Righty (my cancer-free boob) to the curve because I didn’t want to have one K-cup and one nothing, but it also meant that there was no chance of more breast cancer. You know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… or in my case, just over 4 lbs of healthy breast removal is worth the next 50 years of my life. 🙂
And it’s likely easier to feel strong when you’re considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, the type of woman whose leg can become a meme on its own. And when you don’t have to have poison run through your veins that leave bruise-like scars 6 months later and makes your hair fall out. And come back curly.
But I’d still bet she’ll have days like I have. Where it’s hard to sleep because she’s uncomfortable. And unless they were able to match her size, it will be hard to put on a top she’s worn before surgery and not wonder, “what on earth have I done.”
Beyond the medial choice, she has just completely changed her narrative. Much as, for you my lovely readers, I’m that-chick-with-breast-cancer, she will become that-actress-who-got-a-preventative-mastectomy. That’s a hard mantle to don, but an important one. I’m out here being open and honest because I want people to understand that breast cancer DOESN’T just happen to someone else. It happens to all of the “Me’s” out there. And for being yet another face (and chest) for awareness, I applaud her decision.
She is incredibly brave, both for making such a hard choice, and for being so very public about it. Again, living in the media spotlight the way that she does may help, but I’m still uncomfortable when I walk down the hall at work and I can tell people are checking out my hair to see how it has changed. I can only imagine what the tabloids will do the first time she wears a tight top.
And what I really want to do is give her a big hug on one of those days when she’s curled up on the couch trying not to cry. Again, maybe people-who-are-Angelina-Jolie don’t have those moments, but I’d be willing to bet it happens.
PS- So the title is a nod to my six-degrees-of-separation moment with Angie. She played a reporter in a so-so movie, Life or Something Like It about living life as if each moment could be your last. It was filmed in the newsroom where I worked, and I never MET her, but I did literally, physically bump into her once, ironically, boobs first. It really is an amazingly small world.
Hang in there, Ange. This TOO shall pass. Thinking of you every day as you continue to endure and heal, and looking to your example of strength and humor in the face of adversity. Love you!
Hi Ange, the other Angie isn’t the only one who is brave. My sister-in-law just kicked cancer’s ass too (lymphoma in her case) and it’s really hard to watch never mind what it must be like to experience so you are a warrior but even warriors have bad days (or weeks!) oh, and I love the “boobs first” comment, that’s an awesome mental picture!