By Judy Kurtz
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a breast cancer survivor, says she’s “deeply moved” by Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she recently underwent a double mastectomy.
“I was deeply moved by Angelina Jolie’s very personal disclosure of the surgeries and decisions that she underwent after being diagnosed with the BRCA-1 gene mutation. This month marks five years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast and tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene mutation,” Wasserman Schultz wrote ITK in an email.
Saying she can “totally relate” to the 37-year-old entertainer’s experience, Wasserman Schultz explains, “I also went through a double mastectomy and had my ovaries removed to eradicate the cancer and to prevent future occurrences.”
Jolie’s mother died of cancer at 56, something the Academy Award winner says she has struggled to explain to her six children. “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,” she wrote in the Times.
Like Jolie, Wasserman Schultz says she has had to have a series of challenging talks with her kids: “I have had difficult conversations with my young daughters because as a BRCA-2 carrier, there is nothing more gut-wrenching as a mom than not being able to reassure your children that they have nothing to worry about. I have promised my daughters that I will always make sure they have all the information they need to stay on top of their health and the knowledge and tools available to help save their lives.”
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman, 46, writes of her experience: “While at the time, it was not an easy decision to make, I never regret having made it, especially when I look at my three children and know that I will be there for their birthdays, graduations and important milestones in their lives.”
Jolie says she chose to go public with her story “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.”
Calling the passage and full implementation of ObamaCare “so personal” to her, Wasserman Schultz tells us, “Every woman deserves the same opportunity that both Angelina and I had to make informed decisions about their health."