Jewish Women Call Angelina Jolie Inspiration for Breast Cancer Surgery

Brings Star Power to BRCA Gene Mutation Fight

Star Power: Breast cancer advocates hailed Angelina Jolie for openly discussing her decision to undergo a double mastectomy.
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Star Power: Breast cancer advocates hailed Angelina Jolie for openly discussing her decision to undergo a double mastectomy.

By Anne Cohen

Published May 15, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
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Jolie had kept silent about her three-month-long treatment, which ended in April, until the announcement May 14. She said she hoped being open about her decision would help bring attention to the issue and encourage women to get tested.

Rudnick knew exactly how Jolie was feeling.

“I know what it’s like to be recovering from the very same procedure. It’s not easy,” Rudnick said. “She knows that [by] keeping it silent, she won’t have the same impact.”

After testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, Schlager, 46, underwent preventative ovarian and breast surgery. Like others who have undergone the procedure, she considers herself a cancer “previvor.”

“This is not an easy decision,” Schlager said. “It’s not something that women run out and do willy-nilly, but I think the fact that she’s done it and she’s a beautiful, confident woman makes it a little more acceptable and a little less scary.”

Though she salutes Jolie for sharing her experience, Schlager admitted feeling somewhat bittersweet that it took a celebrity like Jolie to bring the issue to the public consciousness.

“I think it’s a shame that it takes a big public figure like Angelina Jolie to bring attention to a health issue that’s so important, “ she said. “It’s sad, because it always has to take a celebrity coming out to call attention to something that should be a discussion with a woman’s doctor every day.

“That’s just the culture we’re in, and it’s [due to] the evolution of health care issues. We’re still migrating from a time where people didn’t talk about health issues at all to a time where people are becoming more open.” Chani Wiesman, a genetic counselor with Yeshiva University’s Program for Jewish Genetic Health and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is also optimistic.


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