Angelina Jolie has revealed she has had a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
Health campaigners praised her decision to go public with the news, which she said was prompted by a desire to encourage other women to get gene-tested and to raise awareness of the options available to those at risk.
The surgery, which began in February, had reduced Jolie’s risk of breast cancer to less than 5%, she said.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she wrote in an op ed piece for The New York Times. “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. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
The 37-year-old, who has six children – three adopted and three with Brad Pitt, who was by her side for “every minute of the surgeries” – finished three months of medical procedures on 27 April. She said she first had “nipple delay” to maximise the chances of saving her nipples, before breast tissue removal and, nine weeks later, reconstruction.
Jolie 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.”
Such a powerful decision. Thanks to Angelina for sharing her story.
Read the rest of Angelina’s piece on NYTimes.com or in the May 14 print edition of The New York Times.