Angelina Jolie, who is genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer, revealed she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy and had her breasts surgically reconstructed.
Jolie, 37, finished three months of medical procedures on April 27, she wrote in an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times.
She chose to have the breast removal surgeries because she carries a “faulty” gene that puts her at an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. The gene also places her at risk for ovarian cancer.
Marcheline Bertrand, mother of Angelina Jolie, passed away from breast cancer at 56, following a 10-year battle with the disease.
“My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56,” she wrote in the surprising and tremendously frank piece.
Following the procedures, the actress has a less than 5% chance of developing the disease.
Angelina Jolie told her six children they need not fear any longer that their mom will fall victim to the deadly disease.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” Jolie wrote.
The Oscar Award-winner wrote the op-ed to urge other women to have their genes tested.
“I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of life, and to make your own informed choices,” she wrote.
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Angelina Jolie (center) was all smiles with her mother Marcheline Bertrand (left ) and British actress Jacqueline Bisset at the premiere of her film ‘Original Sin’ back in 2001.
The decision was difficult for the actress. But she noted how she could count on a “loving and supportive” partner: fellow Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt.
“Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries,” she wrote. “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.”
Angelina Jolie credits Brad Pitt for being by her side the entire time she underwent procedures.
Jolie wishes all her children had been able to meet her mother.
“She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was,” she wrote.
Angelina Jolie, seen here with four of her children (Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, left to right), is sad her late mom wasn’t able to see and hold all of her grandchildren.
That reality convinced Jolie to go under the knife.
“I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us,” she wrote.
“They have asked if the same could happen to me. 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.”
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Angelina Jolie’s father, actor Jon Voight hugs her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, at the Filmex Film Festival, Los Angeles, California in this undated photo.
The first step was a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts and increases the chance of saving the nipple.
Then Jolie had the double mastectomy itself, which can take eight hours to perform.
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Angelina Jolie opted for the surgeries because she carries a gene that puts her at an 87% risk of developing breast cancer.
“You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film,” she wrote.
“Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful,” Jolie continued.
“Days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.”
Angelina Jolie, seen here with Brad Pitt, only has a 5% chance of developing the disease following the procedures.
Through it all, Jolie somehow managed to keep the procedures private.
The surgeries, she wrote, have made her feel “empowered,” and she believes that her choice “in no way diminishes” her femininity.
Breast cancer kills 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization.
Jolie, a super-rich movie star, acknowledged that most women don’t have her wealth, a fact that could make it much harder for many to take the route she chose. The test for the dangerous gene alone can cost more than $3,000 in the United States, and that “remains an obstacle for many women,” Jolie wrote.
“It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing,” she concluded.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
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