Two years ago, Angelina Jolie made the decision, based on the fact that she possessed the hereditary gene that gave her an 87 percent risk of breast cancer, to undergo surgery for a preventative double mastectomy, which she bravely wrote about in an op-ed piece for the New York Times to help other women struggling with the same dilemma.
She still possessed a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, however, the cancer that claimed the life of her mother Marcheline Bertrand at just 56 years old, and after a recent cancer scare, Jolie made the decision to have her ovaries and Fallopian tubes surgically removed. It was recommended by her doctors that she should get preventative surgery a decade before the onset of cancer in a female relative, and at 39, Jolie is now just 10 years younger than when her mother was diagnosed at age 49.
Once again, she detailed her ordeal to the New York Times.
The day of the results came. The PET/CT scan looked clear, and the tumor test was negative. I was full of happiness, although the radioactive tracer meant I couldn’t hug my children. There was still a chance of early stage cancer, but that was minor compared with a full-blown tumor. To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it.
I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this. A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There are other options. Some women take birth control pills or rely on alternative medicines combined with frequent checks. There is more than one way to deal with any health issue. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally.
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.”
As a result of the surgery, Angelina Jolie has essentially been forced into early menopause and will not be able to bear any more children. You can read her entire piece here.