SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Two years after Angelina Jolie shared her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy, her story continues to help others with early detection and treatment for cancer.
Diagnosed in January with Stage 2 breast cancer, Christina Ciano says she began reading more about Jolie, who in 2013 underwent the preventive surgery.
Ciano is a radiation technician and used to being around people with cancer. She says she looked to Jolie as a role model of sorts in battling cancer.
“I really think it made it OK to talk about,” said Ciano, who explains that after her diagnosis, she went into overdrive wanting to start treatment.
Jolie said she wanted to share her story in the media to give strength to other women. Two years later, her story is proving to have an impact. It’s what many are calling the “Angelina Effect.”
An Austrian study found that before Jolie’s announcement, 88 percent of women knew that breast reconstructive surgery was an option after a mastectomy. After her announcement, that number increased to 93 percent.
The lead researcher said: “This is the first prospective report to prove the media’s effect on the health care related issue of breast cancer among the general public.”
Ciano’s surgeon, Maggie DiNome with the John Wayne Cancer Institute, says she’s seen the “Angelina Effect” with her patients, including Ciano.
“I think it empowered her to say, ‘I have decision. I can make a decision that’s right for myself,’ ” DiNome said.
After chemotherapy and lumpectomy in June, Ciano is now cancer-free.
She says Jolie’s story assured her that, despite cancer, she will still be beautiful.
“She made it OK to deal with important issues and surgeries that may feel as though they affect your womanhood,” Ciano said.