Friday, January 17, 2020

Actress pushes women's mental, physical health

Angelina Jolie promoting care for breast cancer patients, especially through loved ones, docs, research

More and more, Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie is becoming known for her work outside Tinseltown.

Such as promoting caregiving for breast cancer patients — not only in regard to the care of loved ones but other aspects pertaining to "mental and emotional health, and physical safety."

Angelina Jolie
In a piece she wrote for a recent edition of Time magazine, Jolie, who's gained even more fame as a special envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, explains that "care is not just about medical treatments. It's also about the safety, dignity and support afforded to women, whether they're battling cancer or trying to manage other stressful situations."

Far too often, her column indicates, "they're not given nearly enough."

Jolie had a prophylactic double mastectomy in 2013 — plus surgery two years afterward to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes — because she'd learned through a genetic test that she carried a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increased her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

The surgeries reduced but didn't eliminate those chances. With the operations, she writes, she had an estimated risk of 87 percent of getting breast cancer, 50 percent of ovarian.

Without the mutation, women typically have a 13 percent risk of breast cancer.

But Jolie, a contributing editor of Time, insists that without proper care, a female patient can fall apart not only because of risks of disease like cancer but "because of other pressures in her life that receive no attention at all…her family situation, her safety and whether she is carrying stress that is undermining her health and making her days much more difficult."

It should not take "someone getting sick to realize that faring for them and not harming them is necessary," she insists.

The now 44-year-old Jolie, who'd lost both mother and grandmother to breast cancer before their late 50s, adds that although there's been rapid progress in technology and science since her surgeries that can help "more people survive in the future and [be] able to live better lives during their illness," there's still "no reliable screening test for ovarian or prostate cancer…and no effective treatment for the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, known as triple negative cancers."

The actress, daughter of actor Jon Voight, while maintaining that care and support of loved ones is the most important factor in women's ability to cope with cancer and to face even the possibility of the disease, cites other related problems that plague modern females — post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, "anxiety, psychological distress, sexual violence and domestic violence."

And then, she writes, there's "poor mental health" stemming from "discrimination, overwork, poverty, malnutrition, low social status and unremitting responsibility for the care of others."

Care for patients is an integral part of "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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