Writing in the New York Times, Angelina Jolie has revealed that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy (the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts) to reduce her risk of breast 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.
Read the full piece at the NYT: My Medical Choice
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Veena Malik, who had earlier been dismissed as yet another Pakistani looking for cheap publicity when she appeared on reality show Big Boss, is no stranger to riling and taking on the self-appointed conservative, fundamentalist moral police in her country. Soon after the brutal murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, she had appeared on Pakistan TV and bravely taken on Mufti Abdul Qavi with a bristling attack, in what was seen as a much-needed articulation of the liberal voice against the misogynist fundoos. And here she is again, all the rage on cyberspace today, with a tweet reporting:
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Two days back at the Indigo restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai, I happened to see actress Sridevi Kapoor. She was, presumably, with family and this seemed to be a completely private and casual dinner out. I was just one of the many others seated at another table with a friend. The reason that I write this post is because I have been a fan of Sridevi’s stunning looks for more than 20 years. Her cinematic presence, her luscious glamour, her Indianness and voluptuous sex appeal that went from her first media nickname Thunder Thighs when she danced to Jumping Jack Jeetu's tunes in Himmatwalla to becoming a sophisticated Bollywood wife and muse of many a director and designer, was a journey I had watched over the years with fascination. My friends and I would often comment on the way she glowed after her marriage to producer-director Boney Kapoor. At film awards ceremonies where she is often called to hand over trophies, on Bollywood red carpets or the glimpses we get of her on the buoyant Page 3 till as as recently as Anil Ambani’s much publicized Bollywood party ten days back, she comes across as someone who understands how to handle the unfolding years and yet look glamorous and young without looking like a desperate aunty clinging to let go of her past.
But day before was the first time that I saw her in person. My dream shattered. Had my friend not pointed out, I would have never guessed that this was Sridevi, that stunner, the idol of lakhs of Indian cinefans like me who were crazy for her dropdead appeal in Lamhe, Chandini and Mr India! This lady at the table across us looked scooped out, shrunken, with deep, dark circles under her eyes. She was clearly without the slightest trace of makeup. Those eyebrows that I always found wonderfully arched complimenting her expressive big eyes, looked flat. She has obviously lost enormous amounts of weight and her face looks small, her body waif like, her hair, without the intervention of a hairstylist was neither wavy nor straight. I was shocked. Not because she looked like any ordinary woman in a printed shirt tucked into smart blue jeans, having a quiet dinner but because I realized how I had created and hung on to (perhaps like many other fans), an image of hers in my mind that actually did her injustice. That lady who gives away film awards in lacy, sexy, chiffon saris and smiles that terrific smile is just a photograph in our heads, a creation of great makeup, and surely a lot of input on her part on how to present herself. No stylist, no makeup artist with his pots, pans and false eyelashes can give any woman or man a new identity unless that person herself does not know how what to do with the transformation.
I have worked with the fashion industry long enough to know the magic of makeup. Yet, Sridevi’s real looks left me deeply ponderous. No, she doesn’t look like a desperate aunty. Far from it. She looked composed and well-mannered. Plain and ordinary too. What could be wrong with that? I came away chiding myself for so vapidly judging her for her looks on screen and in photographs and for forgetting to be a fan of her talent. Most women in their late forties would look like her in any case. Dark circles are a function of age, they do not tell us about someone’s heart or mind or the fact that they have a life beyond makeup. Sridevi’s acting and dancing talent and the fact that she was one of the most popular performers of her time who would light up the screen does not change with the way she looks now without makeup. It is time people like me took off the rose tinted glasses through which we confuse made-up glamour with real presence.
Sridevi, I would still look out for you and clap when you walk the red carpet or give away the next trophy. But I will clap for who you are instead of mistakenly clapping only for what I realize now is terrific makeup.
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