The co-anchor of CNN's show Early Start Zoraida Sambolin announced on her Facebook page Tuesday morning that she'll be taking time off from the show to have a double mastectomy – and that it was Angelina Jolie's op-ed in the New York Times that pushed her to talk about it.
Appearing on CNN in a segment discussing Jolie's piece, Sambolin said she was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a month ago, and though she's unsure if she too has the BRCA gene, she will undergo genetic testing to find out:
"I have chosen to have genetic testing, not because it runs in my family but because at the end of the day, I have a lot of girls in my family, and I figure, at the end of the day, it starts somewhere."
But Sambolin also discussed how pricey the test is, an issue Jolie was also compelled to explore in her own piece. Sambolin went into further detail, explaining that that's because the company Myriad has a patent on the gene (yes, you can patent genes), which means testing is not always paid for by insurance companies (and as Salon's Joan Walsh points out, not always the right choice for every woman). The legality of what companies like Myriad have done is actually an issue the Supreme Court has taken on in the past month; a ruling is expected by the end of June. Sambolin did emphasize, however, that most insurance companies do pay for breast reconstruction, explaining that she talked to many women who "had no idea that an insurance company actually pays for it."
For Sambolin, it's the reconstruction that is – as it is for many women dealing with breast cancer – the emotional part, and she said she was happy Jolie touched on it:
"...As a woman, your sexuality, your breasts...[you're] attached...to that, and so at the end of the day, it's really difficult to say that I'm thinking about this, that this is something that affects me, when I have two kids that I want to live for and that at the end of the day I'm going to cut off my arms if it means I'm going to live to see them and to see them grow up."
Sambolin's admission that she's struggled with wanting to do what will make her body feel good but also wanting to make sure she's doing what's right for her family is admirable; she also revealed that she actually Googled "breasts after mastectomy" to see what she'd be dealing with and the computer "couldn't compute" what she was trying to find "because you don't have breasts after a reconstruction!" She was quickly reminded by CNN medical correspondant Elizabeth Cohen that she will have breasts, they'll just look different.
Sambolin has scheduled her surgery for May 28, and her advice to women is simple:
"Surround yourself with women, because at the end of the day, they're the ones that are going to help you get through this."
And as her co-anchor John Berman helpfully pointed out, "You've got your own family, which is as good or better than Brad Pitt."
Image via CNN