4 Ways Angelina Jolie's Medical Decisions Have Inspired Courage In Me
You're sitting in the doctor's office in a blue robe. There are about a thousand other things you would rather be doing right now, but, sometimes, life happens and you have no choice.
The table you were instructed to sit on is covered in paper and flat-out uncomfortable. The room is freezing and you're watching the minute hand on the clock continue to tick.
It's about the only thing you can do as you wait for your doctor to bring you your results.
He's on "doctor time." Typical.
You suddenly wonder, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
A half-hour later, the doctor enters the room. About five minutes into his preparatory speech, you know what's coming: He's preparing you for the news that you have cancer.
At this point, in Generation-Y, there aren't many people who can say they do not know someone who has heard this news, or know someone who lives in fear of being diagnosed due to family history. This includes the famous actress, humanitarian and bombshell, Angelina Jolie.
While many know her for her show-stopping gowns on the red carpet, she is a topic of discussion in the media for her decision to undergo surgery for the removal of her breasts and, most recently, her fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Jolie originally decided to go public with her decision via the New York Times in an article she wrote herself called, "My Medical Choice," in 2013.
She boldly shares the story of how her mother died of cancer at age 56, and the pain she feels each time she explains to her children who their "mommy's mommy" was and why she is no longer here.
Due to her mother's battle with cancer, Jolie took it upon herself to be the woman sitting on the doctor's table, patiently waiting for her results.
In the form of what reads like a diary entry, Jolie states that the doctor delivered the news she has a "faulty" gene, BRCA1, which dramatically increases her chances of developing breast cancer (87 percent chance) and ovarian cancer (50 percent chance).
After hearing this news, just like any other possible cancer victim, Jolie took time to herself to think.
Put yourself in her situation. If you were told you had over a 50 percent chance of developing two different types of cancers, would you be the kind of person to let go of hope or try to persevere and succeed?
Would you make a plan for your children to be safe and have a steady home, or would you put off the situation until the words of the diagnosis met your ears and became a harsh reality?
Unfortunately, cancer runs in my family, so this is something I think about often. But, Jolie's daring decision to undergo preventative surgery for the sake of her health has helped me to realize that having a fearless outlook on life is the only outlook to have.
Regardless of Jolie's fairytale life story nearly crumbling down, she didn't do what was easy; she did what was right.
She made the decision to first get a preventative double mastectomy in 2013. She describes the feeling of waking up with "drain tubes and expanders in her breast," in addition to the pain she felt and the scars that were left behind.
Now in 2015, Jolie is announcing she also had her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed as a form of cancer prevention. She discusses her thought process, as she weighed out the pros and cons to this surgery and the potential side effects she feared.
Suddenly, this powerhouse of a woman was relatable to me. In fact, she was me.
Regardless of her fame and all of the world's top doctors who would have been at her beck and call, she not only expressed fear, but also made a decision based on her gut instincts, without having the luxury of knowing it would be the right choice.
When it comes to life-altering decisions, whether it's cancer or another disease, we can only make choices based on our intuition, and this is something I am making a promise to myself to do more of in all aspects of life.
If there is one good thing about social media, it's that everyone can share their stories (even the drop-dead gorgeous Angelina Jolie) in order to help others through times when they feel alone, or as I said before, through times when they are thinking, "Why me?"
Here are four lessons I learned from Angelina Jolie sharing her journey on making the decision to undergo preventative surgery:
I am a woman because I have a feminine soul, not because of how others view my body.
As a young woman with a family history of breast cancer, this is something I have often debated in my mind.
If worse comes to worst, like it did for Angelina Jolie, would I feel comfortable removing some of the most feminine aspects of my physical body? Would I still be able to feel confident in a relationship and feel comfortable flaunting my femininity?
Angelina Jolie has taught me that the answers to these questions are a resounding yes.
While the decision to have preventative surgeries was not an easy decision, in her particular circumstance, it was the right decision. She did explain that her husband, Brad Pitt, was extremely supportive during the process.
This decision could not have been easy for her nor for any other woman who has made a similar decision.
Regardless of her circumstance, I am pretty sure the next time Angelina Jolie hits the red carpet in a thigh-high slit, there won't be one person who still doesn't find her to be a feminine goddess.
Jolie has taught me that the decision to be strong and do what is best for my heath is what makes me a woman.
You can't live your life in fear, no matter how daunting the situation ahead of you may seem.
Jolie clearly knew she was at a high risk for cancer when her mother was diagnosed, yet this did not stop her from finding her success.
In my opinion, if anything, realizing how precious life is has played a huge role in making Angelina Jolie the humanitarian she is today. She says,
"Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."
Jolie found power during this dark time in her life, further proving that our most difficult times can serve as our greatest teachers.
Do your own research and go with your gut.
Many women are outraged and confused by Jolie's decision, since she was never diagnosed with cancer.
Some would say she took action on a disease she never had. However, Jolie states, "I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
In my opinion, this is a selfless act of love for her family. While this decision is not right for everyone, she found the courage to redefine how she sees her body in order for her children to grow up with their mother.
When you take control of your life, there are no limits.
To most people, myself included, the idea of cancer is pretty terrifying.
Jolie did not let cancer get in the way of her living her life, and in my opinion, this is the definition of power. She took a situation where she could have potentially lost control over her life and put herself back at the forefront.
It is for these reasons Angelina Jolie's courage inspires Generation-Y.
When I think of femininity, I now think of strength, independence and taking control of my life, not just the curves that advertise femininity on the cover of a Victoria's Secret magazine.