Actress, director, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the public eye. But in a New York Times op-ed published on Tuesday, she brought the media's attention to an issue Hollywood doesn't normally talk about: breast cancer.
After Jolie discovered she had a defective BRCA1 gene which sharply increased the likelihood of getting breast and ovarian cancer, she opted to have a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her odds of having breast cancer from 87% to roughly 5%.
In the op-ed, Jolie states her reason for sharing her choice with the world: "For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."
And like any good spokeswoman, she also made sure in her piece to go beyond her personal story to share data regarding the issue: "Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women."
While normally I would wish privacy upon anyone undergoing difficult health situations, I hope the media honors Jolie's choice to speak out about this issue and does so in as factual a manner as possible, to help other women learn more about breast cancer and the health choices they can make.