Sunday, May 19, 2013

Treacherous Toes

People keep asking me what I think about Angelina Jolie. At first I didn’t know what they meant, but after being referred to her New York Time’s Editorial, I suppose I should have an opinion, but I’m drawing a blank, I don’t really think much of anything about it at all. I’m sick of our celebrity culture, I guess that’s what I think. The BRCA1 gene mutation sucks, and it’s becoming more and more common for women who carry it, and who’s female family members have been decimated by it, to have preventative mastectomies. I think Angelina made a smart decision, an agonizing choice that some unlucky women are faced with, but heroic? Nothing heroic about wanting to save your own life. Nothing heroic about wanting to avoid cancer and it’s aftermath. Heroic I suppose, would be getting a double mastectomy so someone else wouldn't get sick or donating a kidney, or running into a burning building to save a stranger. Self preservation isn't heroic, it's instinct.

I’m glad Angelina was back to life as normal in only a few days, but I suppose that’s easier when that normal life includes drivers, cooks, nanny’s and housekeepers, not to mention a devoted partner holding her hand without needing to request time off from work, paid or otherwise.

Nice to afford the type of concierge medical treatment she can afford. The BRCA test costs well over $3,000 and women who suspect they have the gene often can’t afford it and the reason it’s so expensive is that the gene is patented and controlled by a single company, as is all of the information regarding it. So if you want to go for a second opinion about the interpretation of your results, too bad, it’s profit-based information which is kind of mind-blowing. I think there should be an editorial about that. I think we should all get to write editorials for the New York Time's whenever we feel like it and have them unquestioningly published.

I looked at the website of the clinic Angelina was treated at which she was allowed to mention and advertise in her editorial, and under the “Nutritional” heading it states “Up to one third of all breast cancer is the result of poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Overweight or obese women, for instance, have twice the breast cancer recurrence and death risk.” This is just not true and I’m stunned that a reputable medical facility would preach such damaging misinformation, especially one getting free publicity from Angelina Jolie. Poor dietary and lifestyle choices can, in fact, increase one’s chances of developing cancer, but I’ve read or heard nothing, nothing, like the statistic of one third of breast cancer being a result of lifestyle choices and many lifestyles are not choices, organic food is expensive and geographically inaccessible to many people, but hey, let's blame the victim. I’m sure the environment plays a large part in growing cancer cases, but that’s not a lifestyle choice, we can’t choose the air we breathe or know what's going on in our groundwater. We knowingly build elementary schools on sites of former toxic waste dumps, who knows what we don’t know. I have to quote Dick Cheney here, something I never {ever} thought I'd do, there are knowns and there are unknowns and then there are the unknown, unknowns. Everyone mocked Dick for this, and god knows he's mockable, actually, Dick Cheney is not funny, he's just too scary to be funny, but this was actually a good quote, I love this quote. Back on point, while I have read that maintaining a healthy body weight and/or not gaining weight after treatment {argh, which I'm not doing} is slightly correlated with a better outcome, it’s barely mentioned by most western doctors, also inexplicable. Being overweight does not double one’s chance of survival, that’s just preposterous, oh that it were so simple. So I guess that’s all I have to say on that. Except that having surgery preventatively, gave her the option of “nipple sparing” surgery, so she’ll wind up with breasts looking very much like other Hollywood breasts, the breasts she would have likely ended up with regardless. I think Angelina will be just fine, in fact, I think Angelina will be more than fine.

Back here in the real world, I’ve been busy with getting the kids down the end of school year homestretch and we’re all pretty burnt out and I'm never, ever volunteering to do fundraising again. Since my first mani/pedi, I’ve become obsessed with nail polish. 49 years of bare nails and now I feel naked without nail polish, explain that. My glorious blue sky blue enamel, slowly chipped away and I aimed to choose a springy tangerine as it’s replacement, but wound up with traffic cone orange instead, which by the end of the day, I loathed enough to make a 9p.m. trip to CVS for nail supplies. I removed the nail polish and went back to my blue which is delights me still and again, but damn, doing your own nails is hard, what a mess, I had to try three times and that stuff stinks, can’t be healthy. So the toes, I just covered with a layer of what I thought was deep pink, but is the deepest scarlet. They don’t suit me, they look like scheming, untrustworthy toes. I explained this to Jonah and he said “you know... I’m inclined to agree.” What other twelve year old boy would understand that, my boy is right, we are two peas in a pod, we just get each other. Since I’m busy and tired, I’m stuck with treacherous toes for a while. Clearly, the girly nails are compensating for the loss of other girlie parts, I think instead of forcing everyone needing a mastectomy to consult with a plastic surgeon, pushing the sacks of saline, they should just recommend a manicure. Hey, there's another item that should be in the cancer goody-bag, coupons for free mani/pedi's {for life}, that would go a long way and really save the insurance companies a fortune. My shop closed for the season, abruptly ending my cash flow, so unlike Angelina, I can’t keep going for mani/pedi’s even on discount Wednesday. So for now, I'll dwell in the minutia of nail color and cleaning off my porch and feeding my children. Sometimes the minutia is better than the big picture.

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