Saturday 19 October 2019

'Angelina Jolie is amazing', praises Irish author and nine-time cancer survivor Emma Hannigan

Emma Hannigan
Emma Hannigan
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie
Emma Hannigan
Sinead Desmond and Emma Hannigan at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Sharon McGowan

Best-selling author and nine-time cancer survivor Emma Hannigan has said she believes Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is "amazing" for sharing her experience of undergoing cancer-preventative surgery.

The Oscar winner (39), who is married to Brad Pitt, wrote for the New York Times about having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent cancer, after discovering she had the deadly BRCA1 gene.

The actress, whose mother died of ovarian cancer, underwent a double mastectomy after first finding out she had the gene in 2013.

Irish author Emma also has the faulty gene, which gives carriers an 85pc chance of developing breast cancer and a 50pc chance of ovarian cancer.

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

Read more: ‘I will not be able to have any more children’ - Angelina Jolie has ovaries removed after possible signs of cancer

"I think she's amazing to do it because she has the world stage there and she didn't have to tell anybody, she could have just done this quietly," Emma said.

"She had the best help available and nobody needed to know, so I think she's very giving and very brave for standing up and talking about it.

"She is an A-list Hollywood star, but she's also a person."

Author Emma Hannigan
Author Emma Hannigan

The Wicklow author (42), who first discovered she was a carrier in 2005, has battled cancer nine times since 2007, despite undergoing drastic preventative surgery including a double mastectomy and having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

Read more: Andrea Smith: 'Angelina Jolie's menopause revelation deserves more respect - not to be used as clickbait'

"I had the surgery and six months later I was diagnosed with cancer in my neck, shoulder and arm.

"There was pre-cancer tissue in my left breast that had already developed and it had spread, so you could say I was too late. But had I not done it (the mastectomy) I probably wouldn't be sitting here today.

Jolie said she wanted to raise awareness of the importance of early screening and detection
Jolie said she wanted to raise awareness of the importance of early screening and detection

"Effectively I've had breast cancer nine times, even though I don't have breasts."

There's a 50pc chance of passing the gene to the next generation but the mum-of-two points out that it's not a certainty.

"My mother carries the gene and thank goodness she has never developed cancer," she said.

"My grandmother died of old age - she carried the gene, but never got cancer."

Herald

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