Angelina Jolie and singer Melissa Etheridge.
Since Angelina Jolie elected to have a double mastectomy after learning she had the breast cancer gene mutation earlier this year, she has been hailed as a "hero" and an "inspiration" by many.
But it seems that singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge views Jolie's decision differently. She has labelled the choice to have a preventative mastectomy "fearful" rather than "brave".
In an interview with the Washington Blade Etheridge (herself a breast cancer survivor) was asked what she thought about Jolie's recent New York Times op-ed, in which the actress revealed the news of her mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
"I have to say I feel a little differently," she said.
"I have that gene mutation too, and it's not something I would believe in for myself. I wouldn't call it the brave choice. I actually think it's the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer.
"My belief is that cancer comes from inside you, and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It's the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything, but it never comes to cancer," she continued, noting that surgical removal of one's breasts is "way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do" to lessen your risk of the disease.
"I've been cancer free for nine years now, and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer," she added. "There was so much acidity in everything. I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion [of a mastectomy]."
Regardless of Etheridge's views on the matter, Jolie's announcement has had one undeniably positive repercussion: there has been a massive increase in the number of women ringing help lines for advice on breast cancer. So much so that they have termed it the "Angelina effect".
Cancer Council Victoria says there has been a 1033 per cent increase in the number of calls its help line is receiving following the decision by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie to undergo a double mastectomy.
In response, the Cancer Council is hosting an hour-long free national web seminar, known as a webinar on June 25 from 7.30pm dealing with breast cancer in the family.
Guest speaker Mary-Anne Young, Senior Genetic Counsellor at the Peter McCallum Familial Cancer Centre, said providing women with a forum to ask questions and access information was invaluable.
"We hope this webinar will reduce unnecessary anxiety we have seen in patients since Ms Jolie's announcement and provide women with the resources of where to go next if genetic testing is an option," she said.
- with AAP