Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie revealed the news of her prentative double mastectomy in a New York Times column published Tuesday titled “My Medical Choice,” saying that she wanted to avoid the same fate as her mother, who died at age 56 after battling the ovarian cancer for nearly a decade.
“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made,” Jolie wrote in the essay. “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
The 37-year-old actress has six children, and said they have sometimes asked whether she might also develop the disease that took their grandmother, Marcheline Bertrand, in 2007.
“I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” Jolie wrote.
That is why she said she decided to get proactive and have a preventative double mastectomy, as she felt her risk of breast cancer was higher than her risk of ovarian cancer, and “the surgery is more complex.” That suggests that she will undergo further surgery in the future, like a preventative hysterectomy, but she did not overtly say that.
It’s amazing to think that despite being one of the most photographed celebrities on the planet she kept her surgeries secret for over three months.
In her column, Jolie said she decided to open up about it “because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.” She said a prime concern is helping middle- and lower-income people as “the cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.”
There is hope that Jolie, often considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, can allay women’s fears about being or feeling ugly following a mastectomy.
She said, “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Jolie credited her partner, Brad Pitt, for helping her through several surgical procedures from February 2 through April 27. And no one in the press knew a thing.