Monday, May 20, 2013

Could I get a double mastectomy?

Technically, the answer is yes. If it were discovered that I had a genetic predisposition to breast cancer that would make it virtually inevitable that I would get it, I would physically be cleared to get a double mastectomy.

The bigger question is: Could I?

This seems like an easy answer: yes. My mother suffered for three years with breast cancer and I was there to witness a lot of it. Why would I NOT choose to get my boobs cut off if they were killing me?

I have always had a certain amount of vanity around my breasts. When you're the fat girl in a group, you use what you have, and unfortunately quick wit and a love of sports didn't help me lure the dudes in. I knew the fact that my boobs grew slightly more than my stomach no matter how much weight I gained was one of my body's saving graces. Even at my lightest, I've never been devoid of large chesticles. It's genetic.

Just like cancer. So when Angelina Jolie made news last week by doing a voluntary double mastectomy, it made sense to me. She had also watch someone suffer and once you've seen that in someone you love, you will do anything you can to avoid. Not necessarily just for your personal pain and discomfort, but also to spare those you love of seeing you in pain and discomfort.

I commend her for making the bold choice which only seems bold because she is known for her physical beauty for her job. Her livelihood but not her life, and that's where I'm glad she made the distinction. I've never been a huge Angelina Jolie fan, but this choice kind of wiped out the vials of blood and kissing her brother craziness of her youth.

So back to the question, I physically could get a double mastectomy. I think I would mentally have a lot of anguish but in the end opt to do it. So what else is left? The one thing they don't necessarily talk about in Angelina's case: financially being able to do it.

The test for BRCA1 and BRCA 2, the genes that can determine the elevated risks for breast and ovarian cancers,  costs about $3,000 and is not universally covered by insurance. Elective surgeries, despite preventing millions of dollars in healthcare costs for insurance companies compared to actual cancer, are also not always covered. And plastic surgery in the case of an elective surgery is yet another elective surgery.  It's a sad, but true, state of healthcare we are in: intervention is covered, prevention  not so much.

So for me the question is could I potentially cover the estimated $68,000 or so it would cost if my insurance didn't cover it? Should this type of testing and subsequent procedure be covered? Shouldn't everyone have this opportunity?


Mandy said...

Huh. I guess I didn't think about all those costs. Wow. Kind of seems unfair and ridiculous that insurance won't supplement some/most of that

Hoosier Chick said...

I know, right? We are prepared to treat people once they are sick. But to prevent it? It's a longer, more complicated route.


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