I went to get a second opinion after a wonky mammogram this week.* Apparently, Angelina Jolie and I have a lot in common – we both are on our second marriage, we both had to deal with breast cancer issues this week and we both find Brad Pitt a lot less sexy than we used to (I know I might be wrong about her feeling that way, but between six kids, the weird hair and those Chanel commercials, it’s a fair bet, right?).
I don’t carry the BRCA gene and the doctor that evaluated my breast cancer risk at the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at Cedars Sinai Hospital (I’m putting the whole, long name here because the Brandmans must have dropped a load of cash to have that facility founded and I am so grateful for their generosity) tells me my lifetime risk is only 25% compared to Angelina Jolie’s 87%. That’s still some pretty scary shit, and it’s higher than most women, so it’s recommended that I get frequent mammograms, do all those fun monthly breast exams and make sure to get to the doctor regularly. They still don’t know what the thing they saw on the mammo is, so fingers crossed and prayers offered daily, that it isn’t there when I go back in a few months.
But the thing that stands out for me this week is that the vast majority of what I read in response to Angelina Jolie’s announcement honored her right to make a very personal decision for herself without judgement, even from those that didn’t agree with her choice. I believe that we make better choices when we aren’t acting out of a concern of how others will judge those choices. All too often, I see people making poor choices when they are getting opinions and judgment from all sides. When we instead hold some space for each other to make choices without fear or shame, we are changing the world, one silent moment at a time. Now, I’m going to try and hold some space for Brad to remember how pretty he looks without facial hair…
*Just a note to anyone that works at a breast center that might be reading this – the first place I went called it a “probable benign nodule” and the other breast center called it a “vague breast density”. The latter is much less terrifying. Calling something you found in my body “probably not cancer” makes it very hard to listen to anything you say after that, so finding terms that don’t scare the crap out of your patients is a good idea. Just my suggestion.