Jolie’s choice bold, but is it desirable?

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Jolie’s choice bold, but is it desirable?


Two of my friends had breast cancer surgeries. Seven years ago, the first one learned about her cancer. We all couldn’t believe that a young woman could develop cancer. Less than two years later, another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer can happen to anyone. Fortunately, both cancers were found early and treated in time. Now my friends are healthy, but their experiences changed my attitude towards cancer. I’ve been getting checkups for women’s cancer every year. In fact, I used to be somewhat reluctant to undergo the checkup that involves rather uncomfortable procedures. Moreover, my general attitude toward life was to live it to the will of heaven. But my friends’ diagnoses made me realize my attachment to life and health.

Last week, actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy. It was a creative preventative measure. She had witnessed her mother struggling with breast cancer and dying at age 56. A genetic test result suggested that her chance of getting breast cancer was 87 percent. She made her choice in order to assure that her children would not lose their mother to cancer. She will also have her uterus and ovaries removed.

Jolie’s decision was praised as a bold message to the public. Korean medical insiders also support her choice, as she has shown that those prone to get cancer from the genetic testing can prevent cancer with pre-emptive surgery. In fact, Jolie’s mastectomy impressed women in two ways. First, she proposed a new way to become free from the fear of breast cancer that all women have. Also, it is refreshing that a sexy actress has given up her breasts for her children and her own health. So her decision may be overly praised.

But is it really desirable to remove a body part in good condition to prevent an illness that has not occurred yet? Of course, we all have a strong desire to live, and we can give up gracefulness or convenience temporarily. But I am concerned about life as a human being and courtesy to our bodies. The given proposition is that men are mortal. Even if we remove all the body parts with risks of illness, humans would die in the end. Of course, I respect Jolie’s decision. But I hope the medical marketing of genetic testing and pre-emptive surgery would not take advantage of her courage.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yang Sunny
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