Just two weeks after she revealed that she’d undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of getting breast cancer, Angelina Jolie has been touched by the disease again. Her aunt, Debbie Martin, is in a coma, dying of breast cancer.
Just like her aunt, Angelina carries the potentially deadly BRCA1 gene, which led to her mom (and Debbie’s sister) Marcheline Bertrand dying of ovarian cancer in 2007, at the age of 56.
“Angelina was very close to Deb and she did everything to help her,” a source close to the family tells British newspaper the Sunday People. “Deb was very supportive of Angelina’s decision to have preventative surgery.”
Angelina’s 61-year-old aunt knew that she carried that same gene as her sister and niece but didn’t have a double mastectomy, instead opting to have her ovaries removed because of the risks of contracting ovarian cancer.
The Oscar winner revealed in an article she wrote for the New York Times that her “chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under five percent” as a result of having the double mastectomy in February. “I can tell my children they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she wrote.
The mother of six is also reportedly planning to have her ovaries removed soon to reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer.
In an interview with USA Today, Angelina’s fiancé, Brad Pitt, admitted that he was proud of Angelina for deciding to undergo the surgery (which involved three separate operations) and sharing her story with the world. “I’m quite emotional about it, of course,” he said. “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 stronger and us stronger.”
*UPDATE: Angie's aunt Debbie passed away in Escondido, Calif. on Sunday, May 26. She was 61.