Angelina Jolie is as brave as they come; not only did she undergo a double mastectomy two years ago when she discovered she carried the gene that increased her risk of getting breast cancer – an 87% risk to be exact – she has now had surgery to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
Writing in the New York Times, Jolie said she had the surgery last week as she carries a gene that gave her a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer. After a routine check-up in which blood tests revealed a number of early markers, Jolie took the initiative to undergo the elective procedures. Though further tests confirmed that she had not developed any tumours, Jolie decided that this surgery would be worth the risk.
“It is not easy to make these decisions,” she said. “But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue.”
“I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren,” she continued.
“I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.”
“My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives.”
Angelina’s mother, grandmother and aunt died from cancer; she herself will do whatever it takes to kick this monster of a disease that threatens women the world over in the proverbial butt.
“My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39.”
Jolie then explained the procedure: “It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause… Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause,” Jolie said.
“I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared… It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family… I know my children will never have to say: “Mom died of ovarian cancer.”
You’re a brave, inspiring woman, Angelina. We salute you.