Angelina Jolie makes a shocking revelation Tuesday, May 14 in a New York Times article titled "My Medical Choice". The mother of six says she went under the knife to have a double mastectomy after finding out that she has a mutated BRCA1 gene which sharply increases a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Jolie's mother Marcheline Bertrand died in 2007 at 56 after fighting ovarian cancer for nearly a decade. Her six children sometimes ask her if the same could happen to her, and the 37-year-old actress wants to avoid the same fate as her mom. "I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene," she says.
"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman," she adds. "Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."
"I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex," so she explains. She quietly began a "nipple delay" on February 2 to save the part of the body before having surgery to remove her breast tissue and undergoing reconstruction of the breasts with an implant.
Jolie finished the 3-month procedure on April 27 with her fiance Brad Pitt by her side. She's grateful to have such a "loving and supportive" partner. "So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition," she says.
"Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has," she gushes.
"The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent," she says, adding that she now becomes more assured when answering question from her kids, "I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
"It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that's it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can," she continues.
"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," she adds.
She decides to go public with her story "because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer." She explains, "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."