Oh, Melissa

I thought Melissa Etheridge was cool to sing Janis Joplin with her bald head in 2005.

As an openly gay rock and roller, I think society gives her more leeway before becoming shocked or outraged by her appearance than, say, Angelina Jolie. Still, it was a risk and we got to see that a woman being treated for breast cancer doesn’t have to look like a victim.

To my great disappointment, I read this.

BLADE: As a breast cancer survivor yourself, what did you think of Angelina Jolie’s announcement?
ETHERIDGE: I have to say I feel a little differently. I have that gene mutation too and it’s not something I would believe in for myself. 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. My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything 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. 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. I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion.

Now, it would have been very easy for her to answer the question like this.

Katie’s Pretend Answer:  It’s a real shock to find out you’re carrying a genetic mutation that can kill you. I know because I was there too. I didn’t make the same choices as Jolie did, but who’s to say what any individual should do in the face of such devastating news? The poor woman watched her mother die and she wants to spare her children from the same fate. Personally, I think we need to investigate the role of the environment, diet, and stress plays in cancer, but I think judging each other’s choices is a waste of time. Instead, we should stand shoulder to shoulder and demand a cure for this vicious disease.

Etheridge was a jerk for calling Jolie a coward. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

But perhaps even worse, I’m going with a “dangerously irresponsible” label for her comments on the role of stress/diet/nutrition on cancer. It is likely that all these things have an impact, but a genetic mutation is big effing deal. I have known several young women who carried it and died, despite juice diets, nutritional supplements, and oh yeah, years of enduring torturous treatments.

So on their behalf, I offer a big FUCK YOU!! to Etheridge for the implication that Ashley, Rachel, Susan, and thousands of others are responsible for their own deaths.  That they could have done more. They couldn’t have, or, hand to God, they would have. All of it and more.

BRCA 1/2 mutations are serious, all too often insurmountable.  All of the organic produce in the world can’t reverse the course.

So how ’bout we get back to that shoulder to should stance and stop judging people who are just trying to do their best in a crappy situation?

5 thoughts on “Oh, Melissa”

  1. Katie I agree with you 100%.

    I shuddered when I read what Melissa said.

    I could write a whole chapter on how pissed off her comments make me! I too think she is being dangerously irresponsible.

    Very. Irresponsible.

  2. It really depresses me when folks (especially folks who have a venue – earned or not) start on the “I created my disease” kick. Sadly, her decision is probably going to result in her death. I wouldn’t say “fuck you”…but rather tick tock – you have children and family…

    I hate cancer.

  3. The only part that Etheridge is right about is that it’s a fearful choice. OF COURSE it’s a fearful choice (that I also made), because I was scared of dying, scared of not living long enough to have or raise children, scared that if I did get cancer there would be no drug strong enough to fight it. I find it insulting for people to insinuate that organic foods and clean living can stop you from getting cancer, or cure it, or to suggest that what I did to my breasts is somehow the wrong decision. Thankfully no one has ever said this to my face but it still hurts to hear people be so critical of AJ, because I did the exact same thing, just at the age of 28 and before I ever had kids.

  4. Yup. I’m also tired of the news media’s continued inept, beside-the-point handling of this story in particular and of breast cancer/BRCA mutations in general. Reminds me of the Shakespeare quote: It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  5. My mother is a heavy smoker.. from the age of 11 up until the present day.. she said but Sarah I’ve smoked all my life what does that say to you.. I turned to her as a non smoker and said that your a selfish pain in the arse who uses any excuse to rub it in.. yes i said it in jest or did I.. I love my life I walk everywhere I don’t drink I have never smoked yet this disease still managed to invade my picture perfect life.. or not. People are always quick to come up with a solution to cancer.. well if it was so easy don’t you think we would know about it by now.. we are all desperate for that illusive cure and this is getting everyone frustrated because the pounds/dollars being poured in.. I saw Angelina in person and to me we should be supporting her choice.. she is in no way shape or form saying her choice should be every women’s choice. what she is saying is it should be a option open to everyone if need be money or no money..

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