Angelina Jolie's doctor has blogged the details of the actress's double mastectomy, and described how the actress "expected to feel well" throughout her three months of surgeries.
Dr Kristi Funk, of the Pink Lotus Breast Center in the US, wrote in detail about the main stages of the actress's treatment as part of the effort to increase awareness about BRCA gene mutations.
Jolie, an Oscar-winning actress, humanitarian activist and mother of six, announced yesterday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer.
Jolie had the procedure after doctors told her she carried “a ‘faulty’ gene” that sharply increased her risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer, which killed her mother at the age of 56.
Describing the steps that Jolie took, Dr Funk emphasised that the actress's decision is not the only option for a woman facing breast cancer. "Surgery will not necessarily be the right choice for everyone... as Angelina says in her article, the important thing is to be aware of your options," she wrote.
"To a large extent, I believe recovery reflects expectation," Dr Funk wrote. "Angelina expected to feel well, to be active... On day four after her mastectomies, I was pleased to find her not only in good spirits with bountiful energy, but with two walls in her house covered with freshly assembled storyboards for the next project she is directing. All the while she spoke, six drains dangled from her chest, three on each side, fastened to an elastic belt around her waist.
"The next day she had her first injection of saline into the expanders, thus beginning the process that would gradually prepare the tissues for the final stage of her operations, reconstruction. Four of the six drains were removed. Four days after that, on postoperative day nine, the last two drains were removed. A second saline fill occurred on March 4. Over the next four weeks she was hard at work.
"The final operation occurred on April 27, 2013, ten weeks after the mastectomies: reconstruction of the breasts with implant, which went extremely well, bringing an end to her surgical journey."
Brad Pitt, the actor and Jolie's partner, was on hand to greet her "as soon as she came around from the anaesthetic" for each operation, she said.
Family history usually triggers testing for the BRCA (Breast Cancer) gene, Dr Funk said, adding that a history such as Jolie's - whose mother and maternal grandmother both had ovarian cancer - "would certainly meet any insurance carrier's criteria to cover genetic testing".
For those women who do carry the gene mutation, she described in detail the standard surveillance plan at Pink Lotus Breast Center that Jolie underwent.