Angelina Jolie has revealed she underwent a double mastectomy in a brave move which may have saved her life.
The 37-year-old actress and mum-of-six made the shocking confession in a moving interview with the New York Times today, where she describes how she chose to have the procedure to minimise her risk of developing breast cancer.
She says: “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 lost her mum Marcheline Bertrand to breast cancer in 2007. She was just 56.
She adds: “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.
“On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
“But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience.”
Wow. If you weren’t already in awe of Ange, we’ve a tiny feeling you may be now. The star goes into harrowing detail as she describes the eight-hour operation, but admits that she doesn’t feel “less of a woman”, but in fact, “empowered”.
She also goes on to mention her hubby-to-be Brad Pitt and his support throughout her treatment, and adds: “I choose not to keep my story private 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.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
Aaaaaand we’re blubbing. Ange, you’re our hero. Read her full account ‘My Medical Choice’ at www.nytimes.com.
By Rebecca Martin, 14th May 2013
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