Tag Archive | courage

My Medical Choice by Angelina Jolie

Since the release of Angelina Jolie’s revelation of her medical condition in the New York Times op-ed, it has naturally been all over the media. As many have said, It took a lot of courage to disclose such a private matter, especially being such a high-profile person. Everyone must make choices in their life. And, the decision she made is probably made by hundreds, if not thousands of women on a daily basis. The majority of women going through the same or something similar, cannot reach the masses as she is able to do, so I commend her for sharing such a personal struggle.  I think her words need highlighting not because of her status in the industry, but, because when you take all of that away, at the core of things, she is just a woman, dealing with the same struggles that face many women.  I also like the fact that she ends it by pointing out the fact that, unlike her, many cannot afford to have the many procedures which she was able to have done.  It is a very touching, heartfelt and important message, and a must read for all women, and those who love them.

My Medical Choice

Published: May 14, 2013

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer andovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.

Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.

I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.


Angelina Jolie is an actress and director.

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/opinion/my-medical-choice.html


Never Give Up

written by: James Harris; James Wright; Terry Lewis; Yolanda Adams

Visions that can change the world trapped inside an ordinary girl
She looks just like me too afraid to dream out loud
And though it’s simple your idea, it won’t make sense to everybody
You need courage now If you’re gonna persevere To fulfill divine purpose, you gotta answer when you’re called
So don’t be afraid to face the world against all odds[Chorus]
Keep the dream alive don’t let it die
If something deep inside keeps inspiring you to try, don’t stop
And never give up, don’t ever give up on you
Don’t give upEvery victory comes in time, work today to change tomorrow
It gets easier, who’s to say that you can’t fly
Every step you take you get, closer to your destination
You can feel it now, don’t you know you’re almost there?

To fulfill divine purpose, you gotta answer when you’re called
So don’t be afraid to face the world against all odds

Keep the dream alive don’t let it die
If something deep inside keeps inspiring you to try, don’t stop
And never give up, don’t ever give up on you

Who holds the pieces to complete the puzzle?
The answer that can solve a mystery
The key that can unlock your understanding
It’s all inside of you, you have everything you need yeahhhh

Sooooo, keep the dream alive don’t let it die
If something deep inside, keeps inspiring you to try don’t stop
And never give up, don’t ever give up on you

Sometimes life can place a stumbling block in your way
But you’re gotta keep the faith, bring what’s deep inside your heart yeah your
Heart to the light
And never give up Don’t ever give up on you

Nooo don’t give up,
No, no, no, no don’t give up
Oh, no, no, no, no don’t…give…up

Courage and Determination

If you’ve ever watched a personal video on YouTube, you more than likely have seen negative comments directed towards the person who has uploaded the video – or, even towards others who leave comments. Some of the things stated may, in fact, have absolutely nothing to do with the actual content of the video, and may even steer off into personal attacks, for the mere sake of doing so. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a right to express their opinion. Over and above that, what point does initiating an attack on someone on the internet serve – especially, if the person you are attacking has no control over what you are attacking them for?

It takes little energy or thought to attack someone over the internet, however, with the safety of distance and anonymity, many choose to do so. However, how would you feel if a complete stranger took the time out of their day to upload a video to specifically make a personal attack on you?

Bullying is a serious situation in every part of the world and too often, some cannot handle the pressure; we have all seen the devastating toll it has taken on too many individuals. It doesn’t take much intellect or courage to attack others – especially, those who cannot defend themselves; however, it does take courage to ignore the negativity of others and move on, without the need for retribution.

Check out the touching video below and see how Lizzie Velasquez, a 23-year-old young woman, handled being bullied for her appearance due to an undiagnosed syndrome that she has had since childbirth. It is truly a remarkable testament to how far someone can go when they don’t let the negative comments of others hold them back.

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook or emails – so, that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

For more of Lizzie’s inspirational videos, check out her official YouTube page:


Lizzie’s website http://www.aboutlizzie.com/

Sisters Find Donor Kidney on Craigslist

Three sisters help others find organ donors after finding one for their father on Craigslist.

By Jennifer Flood

We are three sisters (left, with NBCNewYork’s Cat Greenleaf) from New York who had one out of the box idea: to post an ad on Craigslist for a living donor for our father after he was diagnosed with kidney disease.

We were not compatible to donate to him, so we put the word out there to the universe! I am a nurse, my twin sister works in finance on Wall Street and our other sister is a social worker and Columbia University alumni. We had used Craigslist for selling our jewelry, advertising, looking for jobs and finding childcare (I’m a single mom). We figured it had worked for everything else so why not a living donor for Dad?

After a year and four months, much publicity and more than 100 responses, an unknown woman from Monterey, Calif. donated her kidney to our father. Today, they are both doing amazing!

Out of our journey with our father, we decided we wanted to help others in need, so we launched a nonprofit kidney foundation, The Flood Sisters Kidney Foundation of America. Our foundation matches those in need of a kidney with a donor. We also educate the world on kidney health.

So far, we’ve saved three lives, and our fourth transplant was on Sept. 18. We connected a 17-year-old young man Adam McCleskey with his cousin’s friend, Brett Conerly Hartmann, through our organization. The successful surgery was performed at John Hopkins Medical Center with world renown transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Montgomery.

McCleskey has been on dialysis all of his life and has polycystic kidney disease along with high antibodies, which make it harder for him to receive a suitable match. McCleskey’s mother donated to him a few years ago and the surgery did not go well. As a result, his mother’s kidney was damaged during the surgery.

McCleskey’s cousin, Mackenzie Denton, tested for McCleskey and she was not a match. Finally, Denton’s friend, Hartmann saw how much this meant to her and decided he would test for McCleskey. Sure enough, the transplant team confirmed that Hartmann was a match. It was a miracle for everyone and our first transplant surgery to watch besides our dad’s. In one day, McCleskey went from being a very unhealthy, struggling and unhappy young adult to a very healthy, vibrant and happy teenager. Our organization gave him hope again.

At Flood Sisters, we educate the world on kidney health and organ donor awareness, as well as making sure those waiting for a kidney donor, receive one. At the end of the day we know our work is complete when another life has been saved.

Our story is simple. It is a message that conveys the courage to go beyond the norm and act upon it. It is only through courage, persistence, hope and love that we can start saving lives together.

To learn more about the Flood Sisters or to help out with their charity visit www.floodsisters.org.

source: http://www.tonic.com/article/kidney-donation-craigslist-survivors-club/

Photo courtesy of the Flood Sisters.

Impossible Dream

written by: (composer) Mitch Leigh (lyrics) Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where
the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to
march into hell
For that heavenly cause
And I know
If I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart
Will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be
better for this
That one man, scorned
and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last
ounce of courage
To dream the impossible dream;
and to reach the unreachable star.
The Unreachable star.