This post was not intended as a complaint. Still, I wanted to qualify the light-hearted mockery of the situation since I hit “publish” the same day this thoughtful article hit the stands. The latter is a beautiful contribution to the discussion about the choices of women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene.
I don’t know what I would do. If I’m honest with myself, I think I would opt to have my breasts removed after I was done having children. Ovaries are more tricky. On my Ob/Gyn rotation last year, we met with ovarian cancer survivors, all of whom had their ovaries and uteri removed, launching them into “early menopause.” It’s kind of gentle terminology for what happens to your body when it abruptly loses a crucial component of a delicately balanced hormone supply. It affects your body in more ways than we understand. I don’t know what I would do.
But, similar to Jolie, I lost my mother early (at 57 to liver cancer). Unlike Jolie, I’m not at an increased risk of developing cancer. I’m very, very lucky that I don’t have to choose painful surgery, months of reconstruction, a body that’s not entirely my own, and perpetual hormonal instability in order to lessen the risk of death while my children are still kids. Jolie is confident that she made the right choice for her and her family–either way, any decision at which those with the BRCA1 mutation arrive, it is so brave, and so constantly thought-provoking.
It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. 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.