Add Shelley Ross’ name to the growing list of disciples of the Sisterhood of St. Angelina.
Ross, former executive producer of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CBS’ “Early Show,” underwent a double mastectomy last month after discovering that she, too, carried the BRCA gene, which greatly increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Ross says it was Jolie’s stunning Op Ed in the New York Times last Tuesday that convinced her to go public, the same day, via her blog, daily Xpress.
“I was literally shocked when I read about her,” Ross, 60, says. “I thought what she did was so smart. It’s an opportunity to expand the dialogue. Like her, I was able to write down all the details. Nobody can interpret this as if I’m dying.”
In this case, “nobody” is Ross’ code for media, which over the years has run some brutal (mostly anonymous) slams against the producer. Still, it was common knowledge that Ross’ uber-intensity had alienated her from many of her coworkers.
Says Ross: “I got the shit end of the stick from the media. It was like a feeding frenzy.”
With her mastectomy, Ross was determined not to repeat that experience, so she told no one outside a small group of friends. They kept her secret, she says.
“My real concern, to be perfectly honest, was with outlets … that have printed false, libelous, damaging, actionable reports, regardless of what I tried to correct,” says Ross.
“If it [mastectomy] got out to what is certainly a small handful of detractors, I would have read about some anonymous person ‘hearing a death rattle.’ I’m not dying and I’m not dead.”
In fact, after six months’ chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy and an infection that hospitalized her last week, Ross is so not dead that she’s juggling several major projects.