When I first heard that Angelina Jolie made the brave decision to have a double mastectomy I thought how unbelievably courageous she was for not only sharing her story with the world, but more importantly using information she discovered from her doctor to take preventative steps to avoid the same fate her mother succumbed to. It reminded me of another fearless woman who took the reins of her own well-being amid a murky and uncertain future and steered herself towards a safe and effective route. Former morning news show anchor Rene Syler.
After four years on CBS News’ “The Early Show,” in December 2006, her last day on the program, she announced undergoing a double prophylatic mastectomy (the same procedure Angelina did) despite not being diagnosed with cancer. Rene’s parents both had breast cancer and she wanted to cut her risk factor in half. Not only did she do that but became a champion for breast cancer survivors. Unbeknown to herself, she told Cancerforward in an interview.
I never wanted to, or set out to be, an advocate. But I’ve found it’s important to use the platform because that’s how things change. I got involved with Komen because of my parents, but TV gave me a pretty powerful medium to get across the message about cancer prevention and detection.
Rene is a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the largest breast cancer prevention organizations, that reported medical research and cautionary measures (similar to what Angelina and Rene did) is what led to a 30 percent lower death rate for breast cancer survivors in comparison to 25 years ago, resulting in 2.9 million women conquering an ugly illness that takes over 400,000 souls a year, according to the World Health Organization.
What impresses me about these two women and the several others that are faceless and nameless is their strong desire to be there for family no matter how much their symbols of femininity may be in jeopardy. Just for that alone, these women should be saluted. But, to also, pass the proverbial baton to other women considering this option that may be at risk to breast cancer (talk to your doctors first, folks) is a commendable show of heroism in the face of un-forseen danger.