Posts Tagged ‘ New York Times ’

Why Angelina Jolie Is a Breast Cancer Previvor and a Hero

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Angelia JolieEditor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dina Roth Port, mom of two children and frequent contributor to Parents. She is also the author of Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions.

You might not like some of her movies. You might think she’s a little out there (at least during those Billy Bob Thornton years.) You might be a little peeved that she can take care of six kids and still look poised and breathtakingly beautiful all the time.

Whether you like her or not, one thing is for sure: Angelina Jolie is a hero. She’s using her celebrity for good by telling women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer that they are not alone. Some may fear dealing with tough decisions alone, not realizing there are thousands upon thousands of other women who completely understand what they’re going through.

In today’s issue of The New York Times, Jolie publicly shared her very personal decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. As she says in her op-ed piece, “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.”

Jolie’s letting women around the world know that they no longer have to live in fear of breast cancer. They have options. They can determine cancer risk by testing for a BRCA mutation and taking charge of their health in ways that previous generations never could. Jolie knows this all too well. When she tested positive for a BRCA1 gene, she knew she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. She knew she was a previvor — someone who has not had cancer but who has a high risk for developing it. Since her mom died of ovarian cancer just six years ago, Jolie knew that it was a major red flag that there might be a BRCA mutation in the family. After finding out that she did inherit the mutation, she decided to do something about it.

Of course, there are naysayers: “I can’t relate to Angelina Jolie. She’s a celebrity with endless resources. Her life is nothing like mine.” But getting a double mastectomy is a very difficult, personal decision for any woman, as I learned interviewing the five women featured in my book, Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions, all of whom had to make choices — some had surgery, some did not — just like Jolie. Sure, she may be a famous, multimillionaire engaged to Brad Pitt, but Jolie’s still a woman taking steps that can potentially save her life. And, as a mother, Jolie decided she would do what she needed to do to protect her children (just like any mother would). She is showing women that, after surgery, it is still possible to look and feel feminine and whole. She is also showing women that it’s possible to make tough decisions and still have the support of a loving partner.

I thank Jolie for sharing her story and for encouraging women to learn about the ways they can protect themselves. She is incredibly brave for doing so, particularly since her journey is not over. Thank you, Angelina Jolie, for putting such a public face to the word “previvor.”

More about breast cancer on Parents.com

 

Image: Angelina Jolie in Berlin via Shutterstock.

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Child Deaths Prompt New Regulations for Window Blinds

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Could the window blinds in your home be posing a serious threat to your child’s safety? Unless they are cordless blinds, the answer is frighteningly, yes, according to a new article from the New York Times.

While in the past several years manufacturers have added safety features and provided parents with cautionary tips on their products, current statistics show that window blinds are still to blame for an average of one death per month due to strangulation by cords.

These grim statistics have motivated the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action. The CPSC has stepped in and challenged the industry ”to devise a way to eliminate the risks from window cords or perhaps face mandatory regulations.” The Times reports that manufacturers have stepped up in reponse and are now working with a task force of regulators and consumer advocates, promising a fix by the fall.

While there is hope in this new convergence, unfortunately the manufacturers and consumer advocates have failed, thus far, to agree of what ‘safe’ really means. While blind manufacturers have offered several fixes to reduce risk, the task force stands firm that these efforts are not enough and the goal should not be to decrease risk but to eliminate it all together.

“It was my understanding that we were eliminating the hazard,” said Carol Pollack-Nelson, a safety consultant and member of the task force. “Now they are talking about reducing the hazard. We don’t want reduced strangulation. We want no chance of it.”

According to the Times, Ralph J. Vasami, executive director of the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, said it was unrealistic to expect the industry to eliminate every possible hazard. “Window blinds are not children’s products, he said, nor are they defective.” He goes on to imply that it’s a parent’s responsibility to take precaution around such products in order to keep their children safe and urges parents of young children to install cordless shades if they have concerns.

 While the task force suggests ceasing the production of any blinds except cordless is an obvious solution to solving the problem entirely, manufacturers point out that cordless styles are more difficult to produce than corded blinds and can cost twice as much to make.

While Vasami predicts the number of deaths “will inevitably decline as older products are replaced by those with more safety features,” parents who have tragically lost a child to cord strangulation are taking a more assertive approach. One couple recently founded the Parents for Window Blind Safety, while all agree that anything that can be done to prevent another family from enduring the pain they have gone through is worth whatever it takes.

Share your thoughts on this issue. Do you think manufacturers are correct in their assertion that parents are ultimately responsible for keeping their children safe, regardless of the overall safety of a product— or do you side with the task force and believe it’s a manufacturer’s job to provide completely hazard-free products, no matter the cost?

Be sure to keep your family safe and find information on the very latest product recalls with our Recall Finder on Parents.com.

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