Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie wrote a shocking op-ed piece for the New York Times that was published early Tuesday morning. The humanitarian celebrity said her choice to have a double mastectomy was preventative, but that she was at high risk to get breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
She candidly wrote in the NYT about how she chose to make the decision. While some of her older children met her mother, who died at the age of 56 from cancer, the younger ones did not.
In the article titled “My Medical Choice” Jolie wrote:
“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. “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.”
“Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average,” she explained. “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.”
The 37-year-old “Changeling” star is arguably best known for her sex appeal, but was brave enough to remove her both her breasts. She underwent medical procedures for three months, keeping it a secret while she worked. With the final procedure concluding on April 27, she is now sharing her story to help other women.
“But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
Because of the double mastectomy, Jolie writes, she has reduced her risk of breast cancer from 87 percent to less than 5 percent and even though it wasn’t an easy decision, now she knows she can tell her children with confidence they won’t lose her to breast cancer.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of,” she said in the piece.
Jolie has six children with husband and Oscar-nominated actor Brad Pitt. The couple’s brood consists of three adopted children, Maddox, Pax, Zahara, and three biological children, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne.