Angelina Jolie, just days before her double mastectomy in February this year
In an open and honest piece for the New York Times, Angelina Jolie has revealed that she has undergone a double mastectomy in a bid to prevent contracting cancer – the disease that killed her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, aged just 56.
Since discovering she’s a carrier of the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which dramatically increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, Angelina says she “decided to be proactive”.
Writing in the New York Times under the headline ‘My Medical Choice’, Angelina said: “We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy,’ and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us.
“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.
“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.”
Angelina Jolie, following her double mastectomy in April this year
She has been undergoing surgery, at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, since February this year, reducing the risk of developing cancer from 85% to around 5%.
Angelina says she chose not to keep her story private to encourage other women “who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer” to get gene-tested. She praised her partner, Brad Pitt, for being "so loving and supportive".
Poignantly, she also revealed the emotional aftereffects of undergoing the major surgery. “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she wrote.
“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."