Should or Shouldn't You?

Well this week it seems everywhere I turn women
are talking about Angelina Jolie and her brave decision.

I applaud her for the decision she has made and her reasons
for doing it BUT.............

I would never get tested (even though I am eligible 
for testing because of my family history)

You're CRAZY I've been told on some threads on
Facebook, and maybe I am, but here are my reasons:

*one of my best friends had a preventative double mastectomy
because she had the gene. She went through
so much post-operative trauma, and yet still died 
soon after from cancer (that previously was not there)

*I always ask myself, did the surgery provoke something
that may have otherwise lay dormant?
I'm convinced it did.
However  the medical profession called it "one of
those things-a coincidence".

* when do we say enough is enough? What happens
if we are at risk of Alzhiemers (which can be genetic)
or Parkinsons? Do we go back to the old days
of lobotomizing brains -because at the end of the day
isn't a mastectomy similar?

What happens if we are at risk of heart disease, do
we start removing/ mutilating hearts and fitting
pace-makers just in case?

When will we stop?

Lets not forget that the cancer institution is a HUGE business
earning billions worldwide (and principally 
controlled by the pharma industry) yet long-term
survival hasn't improved? I find that very worrying,

"the percentage of people dying from cancer now is about the same 
as in the 1950's" (Fortune magazine-2004)

The mind is  a HUGELY powerful instrument.
Once you have the gene test, you immediately eradicate
any hope. 

Lets also not forget the level of stress hormones
that will surge through your body once you are told you 
have the gene, go through surgery and recover. 

What will that level of post-traumatic stress do to your body?
Could it act as a catalyst for starting 
or provoking "something"?

I do respect Angelina for her reasons but I just wish
it wasn't made public. This recent publicity has made 
us all become more fearful and even more obsessed with
preventing disease at the risk of harming the
very body we are seeking to heal.

This is just my personal opinion.
I would love to hear your thoughts
however different from mine they may
be ;-)


p.s  I would like to recommend 2 books here that I think are worth reading:
i) Cancer-Why We're Still Dying to Know the Truth (Phillip Day)
ii)Mammography Screening; Truth, Lies & Controversy (Peter C. Gotzsche)


  1. All good points, Vanessa. I think the decision to pursue genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers is very personal - one must have all the information first before deciding whether it's right for them.

    While I agree that going through all the stress of hearing the results would be hard on our bodies, wouldn't avoiding the test also create stress?
    What happened to your friend is very tragic and sad but also quite rare, I would think.
    While I believe our minds can heal, I only believe that up to a certain point. I think medicine combined with a mind that can heal is optimal. My plan is to have healing thoughts but to also do what I can to prevent breast cancer as it does run in my family. I am trying to get my insurance company to pay for it at this very moment. I want to know if I have the gene - but that doesn't mean I will have a mastectomy, if I do. I will consider that as a possible treatment but I will first find out if annual MRIs and/or drugs could do just as much towards prevention.
    I don't believe there is one across the board answer for everyone. You have your beliefs and opinions and I have mine.
    For me, it would cause more stress in my life to not pursue testing. And for you, it would be the opposite. Any way you look at it, I think it's great that people are talking about preventative measures and getting educated. I know I have learned more about breast cancer and genetic testing in the last 36 hours than I have in my lifetime!
    Big hugs to you and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    1. TYSM Adrienne and I applaud your decisions. When I worked as a Consultant for the Medical Research Council in London I saw just how much cancer research is controlled by the big pharma boys; it really sickened me. So I am not a great supporter of drugs/medicine as a preventative avenue. I have a friend who had breast cancer exactly the same time as my Mum. She refused all chemotherapy and Tamoxifen drugs, and my Mum took everything the doctors told her too, even though I could see it poisoning her by the day. My Mum as you know died at 48 but my friend is still alive without any signs of cancer 25 years later!
      I do understand people that want to know if they have the gene, but there are so many gene related illnesses that I prefer not to even start that road. Thank you for your lovely comments A' and my thoughts are with your as you move forward xx

  2. I understand what you're saying Vanessa. Angelina's tests came back benign, after her surgery. Another doctor felt she jumped the gun a bit on having all of this done. I'm aware of her family medical history (mother)and that she wants to be there for her family (children & brad). I would've made the same decision. What I don't like, is how the media is making her The Immaculate Mary poster child for Breast Cancer! So many other women have had this procedure and they're not on the cover of TIME. Angelina has no control over this media frenzy, but it's truly sad how they're putting her on this pedestal. They say things like, she's so brave! Well there are a zillion other women that are too! Goodness grief! As far as medically removing an organ. Altering any part of the brain will have harmful effects. I don't see anything wrong with removing breasts, ovaries etc. They serve no function other than reproductive or breastfeeding functions. So you have to look at each organ separately. Remove the problem if you can and go on to live a fulfilled life. We're all going to die anyway. But there are some things in place that will prolong it a little further.

    1. Great points Kim and so agree with you about the media frenzy and other women who have been through the same or even worse.

    2. Actually Kim there are HUGE consequences for removing a woman's ovaries if she is not past menopause. So if AJ decides she will go down that route also, she will in effect accelerate her menopause; not good in my eyes.

  3. Hi Vannessa ... what a deeply personal choice for women. Every woman is so different, with different life experiences, and those experiences help us make the decisions that we make regarding not only this but everything we do. We all have to call upon what we know and what we have experienced and what we feel. I think the decision to have or not have the test and/or the surgery is neither right or wrong. I believe we all do what we need to do to survive and be happy in this life. So, given that, I applaud both your decision and Angelina's for listening to your inner voice and acting accordingly. And when all is said and done, I think that's exactly what we should all do. I do hate the fact, because of the media exposure, that Angelina's decision might put pressure on others to make the same decision just because she did and that decision might be the wrong choice for them.

    I've said it before and I feel it every time I come to your blog, Vannessa ... you always give us something to make us think and I love it! Sending hugs, my friend ... have a wonderful Friday and weekend ;) xox ~S

    SANDY M Illustration

    1. TYSM lovely Sandy. You are SO SO right; our life experiences will hopefully help us make the decision that most resonates with us. I too feel that the media exposure has done a lot of scare-mongering and this can have a negative effect also. I totally take my hat off to Angelina; she has 6 children and she wanted some guarantee she will be around for them. However, I just wish she had kept it quiet and not written about it.
      Thank you as always for your lovely comments Sandy-you are always too kind xx

  4. I have to agree with you Vannessa, I would personally rather not know and remain blissfully oblivious, Its a very difficult decision to make and I know of many people who get tested and take preventative type measures as they possess the gene in their families. I think each person will go about this individually and should do whatever works for them emotionally, and physically. Thanks for taking the time to drop by :) Happy Friday!

    1. TYSM Sam. You are so right about each person doing what best resonates with them.
      Thank you as always for popping by too xx

  5. Wow Vanessa.. great discussion here. I'm on my cell so hopefully there won't be too many typos..

    I absolutely understand your point and perspective on medical intervention. I think the U.S. is too intrusive.. Mammograms, C Sections, Colonoscopies and drugs for everything. I have chosen to walk the middle with a lot if this. I see a naturopath and try to avoid pharmaceutical drugs and hospital or dr visits as I recognize the potential margin for error. Interesting thought regarding trauma post intervention and the release of chemicals that may create a problem. I agree that sometimes its best to allow nature to take its course sometimes. Bottom line is that there is not a right or wrong approach. Choices regarding health should consider each individuals needs and desires.

    This is very well written and I appreciate your perspective and acceptance of yourSELF.


  6. TYSM Leslie and for your perspective (I was starting to feel a little out on a limb ;-)
    Really appreciate your views and perspective xx

  7. I've been tested for all of them, I think it's a life affirming thing to do, I wrote an article on it once, going over all the pros and cons, I do of course empathise with how you feel but I would still urge you to go ahead and do it.

  8. I would not be tested but for an utterly different reason: I think testing positively for a BRCA mutation might very well in the future make one uninsurable as an individual in the US. That said...this IS a very personal decision. I applaud Angelina and don't think there is likelihood of this causing women to believe her path is the right path for's far too serious of s decision.
    While a mastectomy (I have had a partial) is in no way relatable to a lobotomy (there are no brain cells in our breasts, whatever men might wish!), Kim is wrong about oophorectomy. The removal of the ovaries in a premenopausal woman is quite likely to bring on early menopause, and that's a very serious consequence.

    1. Hi Anon. Thank you so much for your views. I used the analogy of Alziehmers and lobotomies simply as an analogy to ask the question "when do we stop"? There are SO many genetic diseases we can be at risk of that my question is "how far do we travel along this road?"
      I think also your point about the effect this will have on insurers is highly valuable and I think the same would happen in the UK.

  9. I'm with Sandy/Adrienne & pretty much everyone else here on this too, so won't be too repetitive on the subject. You are entitled to your choice/opinions dear and I imagine any individual having to make any kind of decision sure wouldn't be easy.
    Sometimes things can still happen, even though you've done everything preventative measure-wise... I'm usually the optimist as you know V!

  10. Dear Vannessa, I am proud of you for sharing your heart, even though others may not agree with you. As I've faced my own scary and painful health issues, I am finally at rest with doing what is best for ME, whether anyone else approves or not. I need to do what gives me the greatest peace, the least stress, and the greatest chance of health and strength. I simply can not, will not, live in fear any more. XO

  11. Hi Vanessa, as others have said this is a very personal decision and I respect anybody's decision that they make with their own body. For me....I don't think a gene test would be a good idea. The stress of knowing just might kill me. Now I have heard Angelina is going in for more surgery, I believe she is now taking her ovaries out. I too respect and understand her decision, but I would just rather have regular visits with the doctor and not jump the gun like that. I wish her the best and it is kind of sad to see that she has gotten this scared.

  12. I agree with you. I would never get tested. I think everyone has to do what they feel is best for them. I respect Angelina's decision and truly wish her best. But I think adding that extra stress can truly affect your health in numerous negative ways.



Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your comments make my day!