Today Angelina Jolie revealed that she was forced to make the agonising decision to have a preventative double mastectomy, after tests showed she had an 87 per cent chance of contracting cancer. The actress opened up about her traumatic experience in a U.S. newspaper, saying that she made the decision to undergo the procedure in February after learning that she is a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 cancer gene.
The 37-year-old’s motherMarcheline Bertrand died at the age of 56 from ovarian cancer, which Angelina revealed she had a high chance of contracting. But the Hollywood star has not let the life-changing operation interfere with public engagements – she visited the Republic of Congo on March 26 on humanitarian duties and attended the G8 summit in London on April 11 with William Hague, after her initial operations but before the all the procedures had finished.
Writing in an editorial piece entitled ‘My Medical Choice’ in the New York Times, Angelina explained her decision, revealing that she had the initial procedure on February 16th before having the reconstruction operation on April 20th.
She wrote: ‘My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% 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% risk of getting it, on average. ‘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. ‘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.’ The star’s surgery was successful and doctors say Angelina’s chances of developing breast cancer have now lowered to less than 5%. ‘I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,’ she wrote. ‘But it is one I am very happy that I made.
‘My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%. I can tell my c hildren that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.’
‘My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.’ Angelina praised the support her fiancé Brad Pitt and their children, Maddox, 11, Pax, nine, Zahara, eight, Shiloh, six, and four-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, gave her during treatment. ‘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. ‘I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. 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.’