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Actress Angelina Jolie dominated every media outlet recently, not because of a new film or humanitarian effort but because of her powerful op-ed  in the New York Times. In the May 14 article titled “My Medical Choice,” Jolie details her preventative double mastectomy at age 37.

With a mother who had breast cancer and died at age 56 from ovarian cancer and she herself a BRCA1 gene carrier, Jolie had an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

As a mother of six, Jolie decided to take action and spend three months undergoing breast removal and reconstruction, dropping her chances of developing breast cancer from 87 percent to under five percent.

“Life comes with many challenges,” she wrote in her op-ed. “The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Medical professionals are championing Jolie’s choice to go public with her journey, praising her for shedding light on the options that women have in the shadow of alarming cancer statistics.

As a daughter of a breast cancer survivor who carries the BRCA1 gene and a niece of an ovarian cancer survivor, Jolie’s words settled in a very private place in my soul that continues to wonder – Should I be tested? Should I, too, take such drastic measures to protect me and my future family from this horrible disease?

Those are not easy questions to answer, and all of us wrestle with similar questions at different points of our lives.

What if I never get married?

What if I never have kids?

How should I care for my aging parents?

When we let ourselves travel to the land of “what ifs,” we enter dangerous territory. By thinking, “what if I lost my job?” I don’t help myself find a more fulfilling career. By thinking, “what if I get breast cancer?” I don’t make myself any healthier or less cancer-prone.

Jolie clearly stated that her choice was a personal decision that eliminates her own “what if,” but for me and likely you too, you still have many what ifs in your life, some preventable and others not.

What I do know for sure is that if God knows everything from the number of hairs on my head to the very plan He has in store for me, I can be at peace with whichever decision I make tomorrow or a decade from now. Technology saves many lives, but it also causes many people to stop living. I don’t want a potential breast cancer diagnosis to stop me from living my life in a way that glorifies God and fulfills my soul.

Our God is more powerful than the fear of the unknown.

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10 Comments

  1. Dan-967169 May 29, 2013

    Sometimes we think that, once we get something we want (a job, a new home, whatever), the worrying will stop and we’ll have peace. But, even if you do get that job or home, the worrying continues: you can get the job, but then you worry if you will keep it, you get into the graduate program, but then you worry about the big exam. The key is not to get what you want, but to stop worrying that you won’t get it. This way you can deal with life’s changes peacefully.

  2. Daniel-974521 May 29, 2013

    Simply enjoy life each day as a gift from God because you will only know God’s plan in hindsight. Be grateful for what you have been given and don’t sweat the ‘small stuff’.

  3. John-879088 May 29, 2013

    After viewing the article on Ramses II and seeing his actual body, I can now fully comprehend as to what St. Peter meant in his warning in the Bible about the ‘Pit of Trartarus (2 Peter 2.4) in Upper Egypt and the waning as to the ‘returning to the ways of the Egyptians’ and False teachings. And…

  4. Theresa-110510 May 30, 2013

    This is a very confused article. First it talks about Angelina Jolie’s very brave medical decision – which included her choice to make this public for the sake of other women who could potentially benefit from it – and then it ends with the comment of ‘not wanting a potential breast cancer diagnosis to stop me from living my life in a way that glorifies God and fulfills my soul.’ How does responsibly taking care of one’s health and being there for one’s family get in the way of fulfilling what God’s plan is for you? Do you think a woman is evil who has had a mastectomy? Do you think you’ll be better able to fulfill God’s plan for you being dead?

    It says the land of ‘what ifs’ is dangerous territory. I suppose we can all smoke and test God that if He doesn’t want us to get lung cancer we won’t; but we are not to put Him to the test; but to take responsibility for our bodies – they are temples of the Holy Spirit. In the article it’s written ‘if I worry what if I lost my job? I won’t help myself find a more fulfilling career.’ Why the hell not?!! Especially in this economy I would think anybody in a career or job that was at risk, would, while they were still employed, be looking at upgrading their skills so they could find other work quicker or leave their current position to something better for them. Unless, of course, the plan is to expect others to take care of you after you lost your job …

    God expects us to be responsible with our lives; to take them seriously. He also does expect us to want to know the plan He has for each of us – as we will be asked what we have done with the talents He has given us when we are judged by Him. We’re not supposed to ‘wing it’ day by day. I believe that by taking the action she has and going public with it, Ms. Jolie has taken the unfortunate fact she had this gene and really made lemonade out of lemons. I know a lot of women would never do what she did solely for the reason they do not trust the love their partner has for them, which is sad that they feel risking dying is a more preferable option. I can’t imagine the author of this article can mean that we should risk our health and wait for disease to come get us – as it may be ‘God’s plan’ we die that way. If that’s the case, those of you who buy that thinking and like cigarettes may as well smoke your way into that coffin!

  5. Kevin-908420 May 31, 2013

    I am also unsure of what the author is trying to convey. While you shouldn’t worry, as God will provide, you should seize the opportunities that he gives. He gave her(Jolie) the opportunity to remove a high chance of breast cancer, and she did.

    I mean if I jump off a 10 story building I will probably die, if there’s a chance for me to go down the fire escape instead of jumping I will choose the fire escape. I may still fall, but at least I am trying to choose life. You(the author) mention God has a plan for you, “I can be at peace with whichever decision I make tomorrow or a decade from now” This is, in my opinion, fundamentally flawed thinking, as just because he has a plan does not mean you will do what he wants you to do. He did not want Adam and Eve to sin against him but because of free-will they did. The decision you make tomorrow may be completely against what he wants you to do unless you are open to his plans, and even then you may misunderstand.

    To tie it back in, I think any steps you can take to prevent an early death is a step you should,….or really MUST take. Our God is more powerful than everything, but if there is an unknown, especially about something that you can find out about, you should find out about it.

  6. Pamela-569326 June 4, 2013

    Why is this step so controversial? Women get breast implants for cosmetic reasons..this is medical treatment as prevention

  7. Chelsea-743484 June 8, 2013

    The principle of double effect would have ruled Miss Jolie’s actions out as a moral human path… It is quite sickening to see anyone, especially those who profess to be Catholic, laud her decision to do evil with the hope that good may come of it. This very false “morality” was even condemned recently by Bl. Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor.

  8. Patricia-600423 June 20, 2013

    And you could go through all of the testing, surgery, etc. only to die of a heart attack or be hit be a car. We do not control our destiny. I am sure that I have read many times, “Only God knows the time.” Or what about, “God’s ways are not our ways.” My family has a history of cancer–breast cancer, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, and even a brain tumor. Of these I have had the brain tumor, several breast cysts, and a threat of cervical cancer–the cells were found early. I have learned to be vigilante and take care of myself.

  9. Georgina-1001486 August 27, 2013

    I totally agree with Theresa and Kevin, this article is confusing, we don’t know what the author is trying to state. The subject matter of discussion is however very interesting.

  10. Andrea -966758 September 26, 2013

    “A potential breast cancer diagnosis” jeopardizes six children’s right to have a mother. A personal choice indeed.

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