Angelina Jolie Has Both Breasts Removed To Avoid CancerAngelina Jolie has revealed that she has had both her breasts removed because she has a very high risk of developing breast cancer.
The Hollywood A-lister admitted to the double mastectomy saying that “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could.”
She wrote that she started “with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.”
According to the 37-year-old celebrity, she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Jolie lost her mother to cancer when the latter was 59 years old.
Jolie revealed in an article she wrote for The New York Times that she has the “faulty” BRCA1 gene which dramatically increases her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
The actress said that on April 27, she finished three months of medical procedures for the double mastectomy. She said that she deliberately kept quiet about the medical procedure during that time.
In the past three months, Jolie has been working and even made a trip to the Congo with William Hague. Jolie is currently a special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency.
However, Jolie said that she is “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,” she wrote.
At a latter part of the article, she wrote “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,” she added.
Her double mastectomy procedure started on February 2 with “nipple delay,” a procedure that “rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area.”
She said that this procedure is painful but “increases the chance of saving the nipple.”
After two week, she underwent a major procedure to remove all her breast tissue and replace them with fillers. She says the “operation can take eight hours.”
“You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life,” she said.
She added “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 said that her decision to have both her breasts removed was not easy. However, she said that this decision is “one I am very happy that I made.”
Because of the medical procedures, her breast cancer risk has dropped to 5 percent, the actress said.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she wrote.
“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,” she wrote further.
Jolie and fiancé Brad Pitt have three biological and three adopted children. The couple have been engaged since 2011.
The actress took the time to thank Pitt for being there.
“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,” she wrote.
“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,” she continued.
She also took the time to tell other women that they should remember that they have options.
“For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. 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 your life, and to make your own informed choices,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pitt described his fiancée as “heroic” for undergoing the double mastectomy procedure.
“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie's choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic. I thank our medical team for their care and focus,” he told the Evening Standard
“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family,” he added.
According to Mail Online, Jolie plans to tie the knot with Pitt soon.
“Brad has been caught up in production turmoil with his new film World War Z, so there's been no wedding planning as a result, but Angie has said it will happen sooner rather than later,” a source told the publication.
“They are all for all intents and purposes married, but it's become clear that it's important to them to make it official,” the source said.
There has been an outpouring of support for the actress and the decision she made to have the double mastectomy and to share the news to the world.
Mr. Hague, who Jolie travelled to Congo with during the past three months, said “This is a brave choice by a remarkable woman. The courage it must have taken not only to go through this treatment but then to speak about it to help other women is truly inspiring. Throughout it all her humanitarian work has not missed a beat. This is a courageous decision by one of the bravest people I know. I wish her and her family the very best.”
Sheryl Crow tweeted, “I commend Angelina Jolie for her courage and thoughtfulness in sharing her story today regarding her mastectomy. So brave!”
Kylie Minogue said “Thank you for sharing your story and helping women around the world. #inspirational”.