updated 05/21/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/22/2013 AT 2:45 PM ET
Recently, Angelina Jolie revealed that she “decided to be proactive” and underwent a preventive double mastectomy upon discovering she had the gene that would most likely cause her to develop breast cancer.
I enjoy her movies and admire her work with the U.N., but I truly respect her for being such an incredible role model for women who are faced with similar odds.
Arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world, Angelina is redefining femininity, beauty, strength, and setting an example of how WE can make decisions and take actions that can actually increase our span and quality of life.
For many, Angelina’s surgery (and her plan to undergo another surgery to remove her ovaries) may seem hard to relate to, and somewhat extreme. Not all of us are faced with the odds that Angelina faces (or should I say, DID face).
The raw truth is: If we are lucky to live long enough, most of us will develop some form of cancer. This year, more than 1 million Americans (10 million worldwide) will be diagnosed with cancer. Research tells us that only 5-10% of all cancers can be attributed to genetic defects, while the other 90-95% are caused by environment and lifestyle. In other words, most cancer is preventable.
Like Angelina, we don’t have to be passive spectators/victims. We can make smart decisions here and now, that can significantly reduce our chances of getting cancer.