One month ago today, after braving six high-dose chemo treatments over 18 weeks, my best friend Melissa braved the surgeon’s knife and underwent a double mastectomy to vanquish most of the remaining cells of her breast cancer. As she has with all things cancer, and as she does with most obstacles in her life, she did it with humor and grace, giving as much support as she got. She’s truly amazing.
Melissa elected to have the double mastectomy instead of having only the cancer-afflicted breast removed. It was a hard but clear choice for her. She mourned it in the days after scheduling the surgery, but believe me, no woman wants to bear the news of breast cancer once let alone twice. No breasts=no breast cancer. A hard equation to swallow at first, but one that grants some peace of mind.
Five days after Melissa’s surgery, Angeline Jolie revealed that she’d had a prophylactic double mastectomy to all but eliminate her 85% chance of developing the disease. I felt so grateful to Ms. Jolie for coming forward about this sensitive subject. These decisions are hard enough to make without the fickle tide of public and personal opinion to augment any doubt a woman in a similar position might feel.
As someone who dearly loves someone affected by this disease, I know I never want to get the “Doctor called. I have cancer” text again. (https://seriouslywritingwoman.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/a-portrait-of-grace-and-friendship/) My selfish self who’s loved her for 31 years is grateful to Melissa for making the decision to have both breasts removed. I’m also grateful to Ms. Jolie for putting a famous face to this personal dilemma, hopefully opening a realistic discourse–between women and their doctors, women and their families, women and other women–about their bodies, and their choices.
Now it’s onto radiation, then reconstruction. You’re halfway their my dearest friend. And I won’t leave your side until it’s over.
Then, it’s party time! A cruise, maybe?