Friday, 21 June 2013 14:55

Online tools for BRCA Decisions

There has been so much in the news lately about breast cancer and genetics. There is lots of discussion about decisions women are making based on the available testing for the BRCA gene mutations. Some people are deciding to have prophylactic surgeries or to manage and monitor their risks in different ways. It can be very confusing and overwhelming for someone who may have heard that they or a family member has been found to have that genetic mutation.  

Published in Pink Ribbon Blog
Monday, 17 June 2013 13:19

The Impact of Jolie's Story

Angelina Jolie’s May 14 op-ed in the New York Times has generated much media attention regarding breast cancer and the difficult decisions women must face when confronted with cancer (see Laurie Lahr’s post from June 7). However, there are several other aspects of the media coverage that I have been thinking about during the past few weeks. Gayle Sulik, a medical sociologist and founder of The Breast Cancer Consortium, recently published a guest blog in Scientific America (May 20) that notes that the media’s emphasis on awareness and empowerment “easily commercializes almost every aspect of the disease (i.e., awareness, risk, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, research, support – all propped up with a seemingly endless array of pink products and medical interventions.).” Jolie’s op-ed encourages women to learn about their risks and options and not be immobilized by fear, while Sulik points out that, “risk itself is a valuable commodity.” Jolie’s story is indeed one of her own personal empowerment; it is also a very high profile story with the potential to enhance the commodification of women’s fears about breast cancer, especially in a society that idealizes “perfect” bodies. There is money to be made on women’s fears and their desires to achieve societal standards of beauty - standards which are exemplified by Jolie.

Published in Pink Ribbon Blog

Watching the local news this past month and reading entertainment magazines has given me much food for thought, as it relates to breast cancer survivorship. This past month, actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had had a prophylactic double mastectomy. She made this very difficult and ethical decision based on a genetic test (BRCA1) that indicated that would be at a high risk for developing breast cancer (87% chance) or ovarian cancer (54% chance). Angelina Jolie has a strong family history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Another recent story on CBS news was related to breast (BRCA) gene mutations that are more common in black women with breast cancer. There was a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago this past week that found one-fifth of these women have genetic (BRCA) mutations.

Published in Pink Ribbon Blog