When Angelina Jolie found out she has a BRCA gene mutation that makes her five times more susceptible to breast cancer (according to the National Cancer Institute), she decided to have a double mastectomy, she wrote in a recent New York Times, op-ed piece. Her fiancé Brad Pitt said the decision was "absolutely heroic" and Sheryl Crow called the move "courageous." But cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge disagrees.
"I wouldn't call it the brave choice. I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer," she said in the last question of an interview with The Washington Blade writer Joey DiGielmo.
Etheridge added that she believes cancer is triggered as much from mental and physical health as it is by genetics. "Plenty of people have the gene mutation but it never comes to cancer, so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels."
Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and appeared at the Grammy Awards the next year, bald headed from chemotherapy to perform "Piece of My Heart."
"I've been cancer-free for nine years now and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer. There was so much acidity in everything," she said. "I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion."
In response to the Washington Blade article, Etheridge issued a follow-up statement to ET Online. "I don't have any opinion of what she 'should have' done. All are free to choose. I only objected to the term 'brave' describing it."
When asked what he thought about Etheridge’s statements – which he had been unaware of, Pitt told Us Weekly at the “World War Z” premiere in New York City, "Melissa's an old friend of mine. I'm sure we'll talk on the phone."