Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, aged 37, revealed this week in The New York Times, in an article titled ‘My Medical Choice’, that she recently underwent a double mastectomy after being told that she has the faulty gene BRCA1, a gene that means she has an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Angelina Jolie sadly lost her mother to cancer aged 56, after she battled with the devastating disease for a decade. Winner of three Golden Globes, Angelina Jolie underwent three months of complex medical procedures to remove the breast tissue and replace it with implants, saying the final results of construction could be ‘beautiful’. Angelina said ‘I decided to be proactive and minimize the risk as much as I could’, and her current chances of developing breast cancer are now 5%.
Angelina spoke of her wishes to inspire women across the world to attend regular check-ups and to seek medical advice, particularly those with a history of cancer in the family. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death other than lung cancer, and every woman currently has a one in eight chance of developing invasive breast cancer.
Despite general concerns, Angelina says she still feels as feminine as before. ‘I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.’ ‘She says the decision was ‘not easy’ but now ‘I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable’. Angelina has three biological children with Brad Pitt, and three adopted children.
Angelina Jolie is already seen as an inspirational figure across the world, as she is an avid supporter for humanitarian causes and is a special envoy for a UN refugee agency. Whilst undergoing treatment, she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo with William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, who remarked on her incredible bravery. ‘She gave no sign that she was undergoing such treatment, and I think she’s a very brave lady, not only to carry on with her work so well during such treatment but write about it now and talk about it.’
It is important that Angelina Jolie receives all the support she needs at this difficult time, and her partner Brad Pitt has spoken of her ‘heroic’ bravery and determination. Her selflessness is evident, and it is hoped that Angelina Jolie’s double masectomy will alert many women to go for regular check-ups and ensure they are following the safest health options available.