Much has been written about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy – what she did, was it right or wrong? I feel that is an altogether wrong question – how can I judge her when I was not the one who had to make that decision? I am not the one who had to watch her family members die of a dreaded disease and then find out I carry the defective gene in me. It was her choice and burden. The only thing I can be sure about is, that it was not an easy decision for her and anyone, who would say that this was done purely for publicity has never had to have any major surgery with all its accompanying risks, even though in her case she probably had the best medical care in the world.
It is definitely not something that every woman can afford financially or emotionally, I don’t think women en masse are going to go and play Amazons just because Ms. Jolie did it – how could this be then be a publicity stunt? What I do admire her for is, that she came out and said she went for reconstructive surgery – she could have done all that in secret and pretend that Laura Croft’s C cup is real or she could have said I am going to be a martyr and live without reconstructive surgery – no, she went ahead and said she wants to remain feminine but healthy. She went and took a chance with what science has to offer and says she feels empowered. Good for her is what I say!
There is no denying the fact that her opening up on the subject has opened people’s eyes to the dread of cancer and the progress humankind has made from blood-leeching as the only therapy available to any sickness. I read this article on Times of India written by cricketer Yuvraj, who came back to the game after therapy for germ-cell cancer. This was not about his personal fight against cancer but about cervical cancer, which is a woman’s disease. His plea was how cervical cancer is one of the few that can be detected by a simple test and can be caught really early and treated better if only women would take the step of going to their gynecologist once a year. I was impressed that an Indian man has openly spoken about female private parts and sympathsized with a woman’s cause! In most of India, anything to do with your private parts is considered shameful – because its automatically associated with sex, which of course is a bad thing, especially if you are a woman. Then how did India manage to be the second most populated country in the world, you ask? I have a suspicion many have not figured out the relationship between sex and having babies, because the logic goes like this : sex = evil, babies = heaven’s blessings. Not many seem to be bothered by the contradiction and that maternal health plays a role in producing these heavenly blessings seems to be mind boggling for those people too. So you can imagine my surprise when a young cricketer came out and spoke about cervical cancer. His belief seems to be there are things that you cannot prevent but if you could prevent something as serious as cancer with a vaccination, would you rather let that chance slip through your finger? I hope Yuvraj’s cancer awareness program reaches the villages of India where woman’s health comes right after the cattle’s well-being, in priority.
I am really happy that the celebrities are coming out and speaking about these issues, not just about their wardrobe and the latest scandals. These are the people that can influence the society as a whole. These are the people that will have a hold over our children when they are teenagers, just like we were fascinated by the stars of our youth. I hope my children have good role-models to emulate and get to live in an open society where your body is, indeed, a temple and your responsibility is to take care of it as best as you can – with or without surgery.