“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of,” said the beautiful actress Angelina Jolie in a by-lined article published in The New York Times, after she willingly underwent a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie had lost her mother after a struggle with cancer. She later found out that she carries a gene that increases the risk of suffering from the disease, so she bravely decided to fight it, in her own way.
Many factors have contributed to Jolie's worldwide fame and admiration; her beauty, her expertise as a model and actress, her presence in commercials for luxury brands, her long-term relationship with star actor Brad Pitt and the over-exposure given to the couple “Brangelina” by the tabloids.
But, following her brave “medical choice,” a lot of people realized that her inner beauty is equal to her outer beauty. This is down to her maturity, wisdom and bravery, commitment to human rights in Africa and elsewhere, shedding light on women's rights, her encouragement towards preventing diseases and supporting charities and NGOs.
Last but not least, it is also due to her embracing a large family with different races - which includes six children, some biological and some adopted.
The medical choice she resorted to and later made public, away from considerations linked to her appearance - which is probably her most spotlighted asset - has certainly turned Jolie from a “mere” rich and famous star who makes headlines, into an inspiring role model looked up to by women across the world.
Clearly, this grants more hope when fighting cancer and it also forms an incentive to take the path of resorting to similar preventive measures in order to try and avoid reaching the mandatory and painful phase of cancer treatment.
The most prominent of issues that obstruct the choice of preventive measures is the high cost of conducting tests to diagnose whether the gene that increases the risk of breast cancer is present. Also, such advanced surgical and cosmetic operations may not abundantly be available in the Middle East.
In her article, Jolie thoroughly spoke of the medical stages she had to go through and overcome. She obviously managed to create common grounds with millions of men and women across the world, granting her beauty a human and sentimental dimension.
It is marvellous that a woman as beautiful as Angelina Jolie reminds us of the most important thing about life: the love for life.
This article was first published in Lebanon-based Annahar on May 17, 2013.
Mazen Hayek is a MarComms & Media practitioner in MENA; weekly op-ed columnist in "An-Nahar" Lebanon, he can be followed on Twitter: @HayekMG