Breast cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge says she doesn’t agree with Angelina Jolie‘s recent decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy after discovering she had the BRCA gene mutation that often leads to the disease.
In a new interview with Washington, D.C.-based LGBT newspaper the Washington Blade, the rocker reveals that she, too, has the same gene mutation, but calls Jolie’s decision “not something I could believe in for myself.”
“I wouldn t call it the brave choice,” Etheridge, 52, says. “I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer. My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not.”
Instead, Etheridge says a preventative mastectomy should be something a person considers after examining all of her options.
“Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer,” she says. “I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels.”
Etheridge, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, says she’s been cancer free for nine years. In 2005, she famously took the stage, bald, at the Grammy Awards, performing “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin as a reminder of her diagnosis. She’s since been involved in cancer research advocacy, performing in 2009 at a Breast Cancer Research Foundation benefit, where she said at the time, “My health is better now than it’s ever been. Cancer woke me up.”
In addition to having the BRCA1 gene, Jolie lost her mother Marcheline and her aunt Debbie, as well as an uncle to cancer.
On Tuesday, Etheridge released a statement saying, “I don’t have any opinion of what she ‘should have’ done. All are free to choose. I only objected to the term “brave” describing it.”