On May 14, in a powerful op-ed for the New York Times, 37-year-old Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie revealed to the world that she underwent a double mastectomy (medical term for surgical removal of both breasts to prevent cancer). “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” Angelina wrote in the piece titled, My medical choice. She also recounted her mother’s battle with cancer and subsequent death at the age of 56, and said, “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
She has since garnered appreciation from all over the world, from celebrities and medical practitioners alike, who hail this as an act of bravery that will encourage women around the world to face the issue. We get reactions from Bollywood and trace survivors’ stories.
Cancer is no death sentence
These women fought cancer and survived to emerge as stronger and more positive human beings:
Devieka Bhojwani, vice president, Women’s Cancer Initiative, Tata Memorial Hospital survived breast cancer. “When I look back, I consider it (the experience) a blessing. But at that point, it shook me up. The good part was that I picked it up really early. I’ve even forgotten about it now as I’ve moved on, but women should regularly get themselves checked,” says Devieka.
Sunaina Roshan (Hrithik Roshan’s sister) survived cervical cancer. “The struggle I’ve faced and the battle I’ve fought, I believe every woman can too,” said Sunaina in a previous interview with HT.
Lisa Ray, actor, survived multiple myeloma (cancer of the white blood cells). “I want people to know that cancer is no death sentence. If one is diagnosed with it, one has to accept it, and believe me, it’s okay. I not only survived cancer, but actually thrived on it,” said Lisa in a previous interview with HT.
Manisha Koirala, actor, survived cancer of the uterus. “I burst out crying when I heard cancer free. I still have long way to go for regaining my health... with your prayers I m sure that day too will come!! In gratitude for the compassion I saw, felt in so many… my old and new friends, my family, my cancer club members who inspired me with their spirit, myammabhagwan n oneness family n you all my fb n twitter friends its your unyielding love that helped me!! I call this my rebirth (sic),” said Manisha on her social media page.
Anil Kapoor, actor: “It’s a very brave move on Angelina’s part. You need a lot of courage and conviction to take such a step. And I would support such a move even in a country like India.”
Richa Chadha, actor: She and her medical advisers would have known best and she must have obviously had the best medical help in the world. What she has done is a show of strength; she valued her life more than body. She still remains the sexiest woman with or without her breasts. It doesn’t diminish her desirability or her femininity in any way. It shows how courageous she is and how confident she is about her sexuality.”
Raveena Tandon, actor: “I think it’s a very bold and intelligent move, but I think it’s not good if you plan to have a child later. However, it’s a very smart decision. God forbid, if I ever face a situation like that, now that I’ve had children, I would definitely opt for something like this.”
Aditi Rao Hydari, actor: “She has set an example to help empower the women of the world. Respect, strength and healing to her.”
Tom Arnold, actor: @TomArnold: “Angelina Jolie is heroic today because she forced us men to think about and even talk about something very uncomfortable. Our wives health. (sic)”
Shoojit Sircar, director: @ShoojitSircar: “Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy as a preventive measure is really a brave step...she says she felt empowered, salute! (sic) Madhur Bhandarkar, director: @mbhandarkar268: “I bow to the courage and strength that #AngelinaJolie has shown by talking about breast cancer and encouraging the women world over to fight it!(sic)”
Kylie Minogue, singer: @kylieminogue: “#angelinajolie thank you for sharing your story and helping women around the world(sic)”