Angelina Jolie is more of a woman than ever after her inspiring decision
ACTRESS Angelina Jolie has always had the ability to take people by surprise, and she certainly did it again with an op-ed piece in the 'New York Times' where she revealed that she has undergone a preventative double mastectomy.
In a brave move, the actress explained that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which significantly increases the risk of her developing breast and ovarian cancer. In fact, Jolie's doctors estimated that she had an 87pc risk of breast cancer and a 50pc chance of ovarian cancer.
Jolie's mother died at the young age of 56 from ovarian cancer and this seems to have been a driving force behind her own decision. Jolie has often talked about how devastated she was to lose her mother so young.
The actress, who has six children, said that living a long life for them was her priority. "I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87pc to under 5pc. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
Jolie is not the only celebrity to have recently undergone a preventative double mastectomy.
Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton underwent one after discovering she was the carrier of the BRCA2 gene, which meant she had an 80pc chance of getting breast cancer. Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy Osbourne, had one for the same reason. Of her decision, Osbourne said: "For me, it was a no-brainer. I didn't want to live the rest of my life with that shadow hanging over me. It's a decision I made that's got rid of this weight that I was carrying around."
Although she is brave and open about her experience, Jolie doesn't sugar-coat it. Of the operation, she says: "It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film." And she makes the important point that for the patient, support is vital.
She praises her husband, Brad Pitt, for being by her side every step of the way and claims that the experience has brought them closer. "We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."
I think most women would find the sight of Brad Pitt at their bedside after an operation very uplifting, but Jolie makes an important point. Support during a time like this is vital. The word cancer strikes fear into people's hearts. They are at their most vulnerable and needy – a loving partner and friends is key to their recovery.
For any woman who carries this gene, the decision is an incredibly difficult one.
Do you take your chances and hope for the best, or do you opt for having both your breasts and, in a lot of cases, your ovaries removed too? Jolie's high profile and her decision to talk about her experience will help raise awareness and also hopefully make the whole ordeal a little less daunting for those who find themselves in this terrible dilemma.
To see someone so strong, beautiful and healthy who has had to undergo painful surgery but has come out fighting is inspiring. For so many women, the idea of having your breasts removed brings with it a fear of losing your femininity. Will your partner ever find you attractive again? Are you less of a woman? Will you ever be able to look in a mirror again and not cry?
Jolie, who opted for reconstructive surgery with implants, deals with this head-on. "On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."Perhaps it is this more than anything that will help women make the decision to seek medical help. If one of the most stunning and sexy women in the world can have a double mastectomy and come out on top, why couldn't they too?
Jolie is no longer the woman that nicked Jennifer Aniston's husband.
She is now the brave warrior who is inspiring women all over the world to get tested and treated for breast cancer.
If there was an Oscar for being fearless, she'd deserve it.
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