In a courageous New York Times op-ed, superstar Angelina Jolie has revealed that she underwent preventative double mastectomy surgery in February after learning she carries the deadly BRCA1 breast cancer gene.
Jolie says she's reduced her chances of developing breast cancer from 87 percent to 5 percent.
Jolie, 37, lost her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to cancer at 56. She was determined to avoid the same fate — and stick around to see her six children have their own kids. She writes:
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.
Jolie goes on to describe, in detail, the procedures she underwent during three months of surgery and related treatment. She says she's been able to keep her surgery private and continue with her work, but she's going public to help other women:
But I am 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 also credits her partner, husband Brad Pitt, for being by her side throughout the process.
Jolie will continue to document her experience on the website of the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where she underwent treatment.