If you know anything about Angelina Jolie, you probably know she is not only a mother and an Academy Award-winning actress, but she’s also a dedicated activist.
She’s traveled around the world to meet with refugees as part of her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. She donated $200,000 to girls’ education in honor of Malala. After losing her mother to cancer at age 56, the star is now speaking out about undergoing a double mastectomy as a preventive measure.
Jolie wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Times today titled “My Medical Choice,” in which she explained what motivated her big decision. She wrote that she was having trouble reassuring her children that she wouldn’t get cancer like her mother, their grandmother.
Because the star carries the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, her risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer was very high. She had a 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. To minimize the risk of breast cancer, she chose to have a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year. BTW, to get tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2, it costs over $3,000 in the United States, which Jolie noted, "remains an obstacle for many women."
The actress said she wrote the piece in the hope that “other women can benefit from (her) experience;” she acknowledged that “cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” Jolie explains that while her decision wasn't an easy one to make, she is happy now that she made it. She said she feels “empowered,” and in no way feels like “any less of a woman.” She goes on the credit her partner, Brad Pitt, for staying by her side the entire time while she was treated at the Pink Lotus Breast Center. She also mentioned that her chances of developing breast cancer have gone down from "87% to under 5%."
Jolie’s regimen for fighting cancer will soon be posted on the center’s website for others who are curious about undergoing the surgery themselves. She continued to note that, because so many of the people who die from breast cancer are from low- and middle-income communities, it “has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live.”
We commend Jolie’s decision to come forward about such a personal decision in hopes of encouraging other women to speak up, get tested and get treatment. If you are looking for more information to help yourself or a loved one who is dealing with cancer, please check out the action widgets below.