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June 18th, 2013
06:13 PM ET

Melissa Etheridge says Angelina Jolie's choice was not brave

CNN's Brooke Baldwin and E.D. Hill discuss why cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge would say Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy was not the brave choice to make.

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Filed under: Brooke Baldwin • CNN Newsroom
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Eaf

    Thank you Doctor Etheridge. Where did you get your medical degree? "I believe that cancer comes from what's inside of us." "Stress turns on the cancer mutation?"
    Wow. Just wow. Cancer, and medicine, have nothing to do with what we "believe". Maybe Dr. Etheridge is a witch doctor.

    June 28, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  2. mramseymd

    Melissa Etheridge is just plain wrong. There is NO evidence that nutrition, stress, or any other factors decrease cancer risk when you have BRCA mutation. Angelina Jolie watched her mother die from ovarian cancer caused by the same BRCA mutation. No woman wants to have a mastectomy- even fewer want to talk about it. Having preventive mastectomy and then acknowledging it publicly to educate others was INCREDIBLY brave. Ms. Etheridge owes Ms. Jolie an apology. Ms. Etheridge discussed her ordeal with cancer for the cameras, which was also very brave. She stated she used marijuana medicinally during chemotherapy, which is very reasonable. She then stated she uses marijuana daily since then for acid reflux caused by the chemo. Acid reflux is NOT a long-term side effect of chemotherapy, and marijuana has NEVER been found to help acid reflux. Smoking marijuana can cause chronic respiratory problems, and as you may imagine, breathing ANY kind of smoke into your lungs every day increases your risk of many different kinds of cancer. I support legalization of marijuana- people should be able to do with their bodies what they choose. However, Ms.Etheridge needs to get out of the business of giving medical advice- she is misinformed, judgemental, and apparently a liar.

    June 29, 2013 at 6:02 am |
  3. laneyhart

    here here mramseymd, eaf, I've gained new respect for Angelina Jolie.This was no doubt a decision that took much thought and consideration on all levels ,and then she took it a step further and shared it with the world. She led by example for many who must make this difficult choice ,and that this choice does not have to come from a place of fear but from a place of empowerment. Angelina Jolie is an exceptional woman who in life seems to get better and better at setting an example for women to lead an extraordinary life. As for that unexceptional washed up musician....Melissa who? and why should we care about your opinion?

    June 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  4. pained 1

    Melissa,thank you for that 1[one] song you had.AJ I think is a great role model for women.She literally removed a part of what made her famous and talks about it.She seems like a very real,albeit eccentric person

    June 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  5. F. Etheridge

    Melissa Etheridge should shut her mouth, and mind her own business. She has nothing to say about bravery. Was it brave of her to walk out on her wife and kids? Just sayin! Angelina Jolie underwent a lot of pain to spare her children the agony she suffered at losing her own mother.

    July 1, 2013 at 12:11 am |
  6. stash

    Sorry. Angelina Jolie was not brave. Congratulations for making a decision that other women have made many times before you but because you have money and are famous you splatter your private life aross the world. I have plenty of family members who have had breast cancer and chances are ill get it too. No im not getting tested for the gene, because even if I have it, it doesn't mean I'm going to get it. If I do, I'll deal with it when I do. And thats my choice. If you want to have a mastectomy to avoid that go for it. But its not brave so stop playing it off that it is and leave off for publishing about it for actual news.

    July 2, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  7. Alexis

    @stash...I hear you. I'm sure Angelina is aware that her situation is unique. Being able to share your burden with millions of well wishers along with having a supportive family and money for the best care surely made her load a lighter. I'm not saying she shouldn't take advantage of all she has available but the media could certainly make better use of everyones time. I get tired of watching people make decisions or do things that many others do quietly and be lauded for it.

    July 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  8. Rob A

    lol E.D. Hill, talks about how it is not fear, and then goes on to show how fearful she was about possible cancer and what it would do to her and her family. Her statements are very contradictory.

    Etheridge's opinion and analysis was spot on. Stress and life outlook are major factors in cancer and it is most definitely fear of cancer that would lead a woman to make the choice that Jolie made, there is no denying that.

    And I do have experience with this as my mother had breast cancer and then further cancers that led to her death at age 59. I loved my mother dearly, but unfortunately depression and stress were major factors in her life that I am totally convinced led to her cancer and ultimately her death.

    July 5, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  9. theskyepod

    Normally I hate it when celebrities make medical pronouncements, but Etheridge is actually on solid ground, not in her judgment of whether Jolie is brave or not – who's really qualified to make that assessment? – but there's considerable data to suggest that regardless of what triggers cells to mutate, the PROGRESSION of cancerous cells into a tumor is due to a failure of immunosurveillence. Normally cancerous cells – which we have all the time – are destroyed by our immune systems before they can cause any trouble, but sometimes that doesn't happen and we end up with tumors. There is also considerable data showing a causal link between immune system performance and stress, so again she's basically right. This doesn't mean that reducing stress once you have cancer will make any difference at all, because avoiding cancer and fighting it off once you have it are different processes, but the link between stress and cancer is definitely there. Half the people with the BRCA genes DON'T get cancer, and their choices – including how they handle stress – may be part of the reason why.

    July 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  10. curious2

    what angie jolie did was bypass poparochi anyway...that was wise....bound to be all over the news...this way it can serve to help also...

    July 11, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  11. Sandy Garrett

    I disagree. Ms Jolie made a bold, positive move in an attempt to avoid a disease that could leave her family mother-less. It was very brave. Ms. Etheridge cannot say that if she could of avoided her own issue with the disease that she wouldn't have chosen the same route. I do not say this to diminish her own brave fight. She faced her disease and overcame it.

    July 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  12. Social Advertising

    Not many of us has fortune like Angelina as money, care, family and public support of a celeb...

    July 13, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  13. The Doc

    To all the Etheridge naysayers... anyone can do the research and become at least as knowledgable of a specific medical condition as any doctor on earth, and in some cases, more so when that person is directly affected by that medical condition. Jolie did what she wanted to do for what ever reason. She didn't broadcast the event to "help" anyone or to provide education. Many medical professionals disagreed completely with Jolie's choice, but that was her choice. Celebrities are just people like the rest of us. They can be just as dumb and make the same poor life choices as we do. Don't glorify their lives as something to be used as a life model for yourself. Of course, that would be your choice, but don't denigrate others who might be a little more thoughtful than yourselves.

    July 14, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  14. 'Sam's' club

    The truth of the matter is that no one knows exactly what triggers cancer. Whether or not you have a gene mutation. I pray they find the answer soon for all those who are fighting this terrible disease and for all those that have lost their battle.

    July 14, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  15. Dax Eclso

    It all comes down to the cards you are given in life aka genetics. My parents smoked like chimneys and drank like fish and didnt have any health problems... My neighbor never smoked or drink and died of cancer at 32. It's all about what you are made of and nothing more.

    July 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  16. heather

    I actually have to agree with Ms Etheridge on this one. Just like her, I have no opinion on what Ms Jolie should or should not have done, but it seems pretty clear that her decision was motivated by her fear of getting breast cancer- and rightfully so, as I think I read somewhere that people with that gene have something like a 90% chance of developing it. Considering that she watched her own mother battle the disease, it seems to me that, finding out she had the gene left her in a position to make a very pragmatic choice: have them removed, or most likely get cancer. If anything was truly "brave", I would say it was probably choosing to undergo the gene testing to begin with- most people aren't comfortable with the possibility of confronting their own mortality unless/until they are forced to.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:48 am |
  17. Bluejeans

    ATTENTION-HUNGRY OLD WOMAN! Etheridge hasn't commented on scores of OTHER WOMEN who have chosen the same route. Why pick Jolie's case to comment? BECAUSE SHE NEEDS ATTENTION! Please stop giving this individual any attention outside of her music.

    July 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  18. Fritz Hohenheim

    "My belief"wow. Steven Jobs was another one of those lunatics who "believed" that by "believing" you can change the real world and consequently refused medical treatment in favor of junk like acupuncture, juice therapy and other mumbo jumbo, and we all know how that turned out.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Cat

    Believing we can control whether or not our stress develops into cancer is delusional.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:35 am |
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