Posted by: Joelle Burnette | May 17, 2013

Thank you, Angelina!

US actress and director Angelina Jolie I am incredibly thankful to Actress, Director, Activist and Mom (yes, that’s a job) Angelina Jolie for her announcement this week that she tested positive for the BRCA genetic mutation and has undergone prophylactic surgeries to remove her breasts after finding out her high risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

I’m glad she has single-handedly brought this women’s health issue to the forefront of people’s attention; nationally and abroad. I never thought I had anything in common with the gorgeous, charismatic Jolie. But judging by the five TV and radio interviews I’ve done the past three days about my BRCA experience and my book Cancer Time Bomb, I have more in common with her than I thought possible. Moreover, as she sheds light on this social issue, she ties women together with stronger bonds of empowerment as we stand up and tell the big bad insurance companies, it’s time we take more control over our health and future.

Perhaps now, the news will begin covering the issue of the health insurance industry and how these greedy companies choose the bottom line over a person’s precious life as they opt not to cover the cost of this test that can utterly change a woman’s future.

My sister has twice survived breast cancer. During her first cancer, after witnessing the flaming hoops of horror my sister’s HMO forced my family to jump through in order to secure appropriate tests and treatments–call after call, and hiring an attorney who specializes in battling the greedy, unfeeling money-hoarding monster–it’s time this system change. And anyway, isn’t it generally cheaper for someone to have preventative health care rather than emergency, last-minute, life-saving treatments?

So, why not allow women to have this test? Any woman who has a history of breast and/or ovarian cancers automatically should have that option. Not just women who have a hefty income, but those women who can’t afford the test. Angelina was lucky to have the money to pay for her BRCA test, but really, it’s the other woman who need extra support; those women who must choose between paying rent and putting food on the table, or pouring out $3,000 to $4,000 for a blood test.

Those are the women who really need financial relief from their health insurance companies to pay for this potentially life-saving test. A test that has been monopolized by a company that apparently placed a patent on the BRCA gene (I believe the Supreme Court will be deciding on the legality of that sometime soon), and now chooses to price gouge their “product” and hold this test hostage, hurting the very people the test is supposed to serve. Why are these companies so fucking greedy? Doesn’t anyone have a sense of community and helping society? Help thy neighbor and your community, your society, will benefit together? I realize this company dumped research funds into developing this test, but really, how much money is enough?

Yes, the overall expense to Angelina is going to be a drop in the bucket and paid with pocket change, whereas my family never seems to have any money and we’re still trying to pay off all the medical bill accrued from my many prophylactic surgeries and that bloody test) that began back in 2008. Still, as long as I don’t get struck down dead by a toilet falling from a passing airline, I am secure in the knowledge that I took steps to secure my (I hope) breast/ovarian cancer-free future with my children. Hah…another common trait with Angelina…it always comes down to our children.

Angelina, keep going with this one and pursue this issue with the full impact of your power. Help women get better health coverage and care so they, too, can stick around to watch their children grow up, and possibly help those kids survive their own BRCA journey.

If you want to watch or listen to my recent interviews, please visit Oh, and buy my book!

Since you’ve read this far, here’s how you can get half off my book… “Like” my book’s Facebook page ( follow this blog, and send me a message saying, “Angelina rocks!” and I’ll give you a coupon for half off either a printed edition from Amazon or an e-book download. Share this news with your friends!

Thanks for reading.




  1. Nice! Way to go Joelle!
    Your friend and fellow BRCAonian
    xoxo Amy

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