Is the ultimate statement by a woman that her life is more important than how she defines her sexuality. And in the case of Christina Applegate, she was faced with a decision that many women would consider almost impossible to make. Based on the fact that she tested positive for a gene that puts you at an almost 80% risk for breast cancer (BRCA -1, BRCA -2), a first degree relative who had breast cancer at what is considered to be a young age, and her own diagnosis of breast cancer at age 40 - she chose the radical approach of removing both her breasts to avoid a recurrence of breast cancer and to optimize her quality of life and longevity.
I do like my breasts. I am grateful they are small because I am a heavy duty exerciser and I also find self breast exams really easy. But would I find parting with them easy - if faced with a decision similar to Christina?? I think I would because I have never defined my female sexuality by my breasts. I am all woman because I am empathic, emotional, a brilliant multi-tasker, a devoted wife and mom and I do love to flirt. All those things make me feel very female and womanly. That being said, I am honest enough to admit that intimacy and pleasure does involve my breasts and I know it would be a huge decision to "let them go." If I felt my life was in danger - it's a no-brainer - they would be offered in exchange for a greater possibility of avoiding cancer. Would there be tears, regret - yes; shame or loss of self-esteem - I think not.
I do so love the fact that Ms. Applegate has decided that breast reconstruction and having "perky breasts" at 90 is a wonderful trade off. I also applaud her courage as a prominent TV actress, deciding to reveal this radical treatment decision. This IS the ultimate prevention decision, and though not everyone would choose it, it is a viable and reasonable option for a young woman facing almost certain recurrence of breast cancer.
Would you be able to embrace this decision? Would you be willing to do it if you found out you had one of these genes?
Published On: August 24, 2008