Amid receiving a high risk diagnosis for breast cancer, celebrity Angelina Jolie made the brave decision to undergo a double mastectomy. She made the choice to reduce her risk, but also to convey a message out to other women who are fighting for their lives because of the lethal disease.
Angelina Jolie’s mother passed after a long battle with ovarian cancer at age 56, and she stated to the N.Y. Times that she did not want to leave her 6 children motherless- thus her drastic decision to have the double mastectomy to assure them of this. In addition, 37 year old Jolie added that:
“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. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene.”
After consulting with her physicians Jolie was given the estimation that she carried a 50% risk of contracting ovarian cancer and an 87% risk of getting breast cancer. After hearing this, Jolie remarked:
“Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.”
Jolie’s famous fiance, Brad Pitt has also spoke out to the media about her decision:
“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic.” All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.”
Jolie’s Message to Women Suffering From Breast Cancer
Jolie has just now come forward with this information, after having the surgery in February and recovering since at home with Pitt’s support. Her initial silence was to keep the treatment “private” and out of the media. However, the purpose behind her “timing” of disclosing this information is so that she can help other women that are suffering from cancer or that have a high risk of contracting the disease. She shares this in lieu of getting the message out there:
“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.”
Jolie has already inspired the likes of many charities and cancer patients, and notably CNN anchor, Zoraida Sambolin who also announced this week that she is opting for a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She shares her sentiments about Jolie’s decision as so:
“I struggled for weeks trying to figure out how to tell you that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was leaving to have surgery.Then … Angelina Jolie shares her story of a double mastectomy and gives me strength and an opening.”
Breast cancer alone kills about 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated that one in 300 to one in 500 women carry a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, as Jolie does.
It is certain that while Jolie is still recovering physically, emotionally, and mentally from her choice to have the double mastectomy- she can be at peace knowing that perhaps it is prolonging the quality and the quantity of her life. By using her own experience to educate and motivate other women to be screened for the defective gene, and also by inspiring them- Jolie can shed some light for others who may have a higher risk than normal of contracting ovarian and breast cancer. In addition to soothing those women who are currently suffering from breast cancer-with the vital fact that they are not alone in their battle!