By Dr. Russ,
When Angelina Jolie announced she had a double mastectomy, prophylactically, to prevent breast cancer, she became a role model for action-oriented optimism. Some 232,000 women in the USA receive a breast cancer diagnosis each year, and 40,000 die from the disease. Genetic testing also indicates that Angelina is at risk of ovarian cancer as well. Breast cancer has many survivors, but ovarian cancer does not. Ovarian cancer is much more deadly.
In 1962, at the age of 41, my mother died of ovarian cancer. She had been treated 10 years prior for breast cancer with a single mastectomy. My mother’s mother died at the age of 39 of ovarian cancer. Twelve out of thirteen of my maternal grandparent’s siblings died of some kind of cancer at relatively young ages. We have learned since the advent of genetic testing that either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are present in nearly every female in the lineage from my mother’s mother.
In 1968, my aunt, my mother’s younger sister underwent prophylactic surgery that removed both breasts and she had a complete hysterectomy removing the ovaries and uterus, all at the same time. She was in her forties, approaching menopause, and had born three children. My Aunt lived to be 80 years old. She got to enjoy being with and seeing all her six grandchildren grow into their twenties.
When my mother passed in 1962, everyone was forecasting a cure for cancer within forty years. Well, it has been fifty years, and we still do not have the cure. In 1968, when my aunt underwent the surgery it was truly groundbreaking, but some 45 years later, Jolie is being hailed as a ground-breaker for women’s breast health.
As you know, the Dr. Russ brand of optimism is not about wishful thinking and pie in the sky outcomes, but is about taking constructive action to improve your life situation and attitude. Angelina Jolie’s actions speak louder than any words she has spoken. I have seen the positive results of this kind of action-oriented optimism had for my aunt, up close and personal. It is not easy to have the parts of your body that most define physical femininity removed. Like a good optimist these women assessed their worst-case scenario and its likelihood of occurrence. They then made a decision to save themselves for their families. These are the kinds of actions that define the Dr. Russ Buss brand of optimism.
Let me know what you think.