In April 2013, Angelina Jolie went under the knife and had a preventative double mastectomy—surgery that removes the breasts—and now, she’s opening up about life after the brave procedure.
“I’m great! I’m very happy I made the decision. I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like Unbroken to have something to be focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work,” the mom-of-six told Entertainment Weekly.
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The 38-year-old first revealed her decision to undergo the procedure in a personal essay for the New York Times in which she disclosed that she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene—the “faulty” gene that put her at an 87-percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50-percent risk of ovarian cancer, the two illnesses that took her mother, Marcheline Bertrand’s, life.
In the eye-opening essay, Angie wrote about how she hoped other women would benefit from her story.
“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” the Oscar winner wrote in May 2013. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, then take action.”
And based on her interview with Entertainment Weekly, it’s evident the publicity she garnered for her brave decision has touched the lives of others.
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“I feel very, very close—much closer—to other women, and women who are going through the same thing. Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women’s issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer,” she proudly told the mag. “I’ve talked to men about their daughters’ and wives’ health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children.”
One man who is especially proud of her decision to use her own experience to promote women’s health is her fiancé, Brad Pitt.
“She could have stayed absolutely private about it and I don’t think anyone would have been none the wiser with such good results,” he told USA Today in May. “But it was really important to her to share the story and that others would understand it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be an empowering thing, and something that makes you and us stronger.”
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Not only has she been successful in reaching other women who went through the same thing, but she also told EW she’s been touched by the response she received.
“The reason that I wrote it was to try to communicate and help and connect with other women and other families going through the same thing,” Angelina said. “I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people.”