The elite globally hail Angelina Jolie for her courage and bravery in having an elective double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. I love Angelina Jolie but I’m growing weary of all the hype.
Like one New York woman pointed out, it doesn’t change anything for working women in a country where medicare and insurance doesn’t cover elective mastectomy or reconstructive surgery.
It changes even less for African women. Only a few elite African women can afford the tests that will forewarn them if they have BRCA1 gene. Fewer still can afford the surgery. Most African women can’t afford treatment for cancer even.
Angelina acknowledges in her op-ed that “Breast cancer … kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries.”
So now we are more aware about the gene and about the things we can do to prevent the cancer if we find out we have the gene and we can get even less sleep worrying about not being able to test for the gene or having preventive surgery.
And wondering who to blame; the government, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, the trans Atlantic slave trade, corruption, international finance, Brenton Woods, IMF, the World Bank, development?
Makes you wonder sometimes just how bad your karma must be to be born African, female and economically disadvantaged. And please, do not come charging in with your free tests. We still can’t afford treatment.
I’m happy for Angelina. Like she said “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.” Can I and millions of African women say the same thing?
I’ve worked in development a long time. All we’ve ever done is attack the symptoms, never the causes. If there is one thing I have learnt in my recent and personal health battle is that symptoms will always come back until you deal with the causes.