Angelina Jolie Shares Her Story: “My Medical Choice”

Angelina Jolie @ Golden Globes 2012

Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed for the New Yor Times today about her decision to have double mastectomy. Jolie wrote, “For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.” Jolie carries the mutated BRCA1 gene, which dramatically increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. By opting for a double mastectomy, Jolie said she has reduced her risk from 87% to under 5% for breast cancer. She noted how vital support from family, especially partners, can be during the process.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

Of what she said, I felt like this was most inspiring:

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.

Jolie hopes by sharing her story that she will raise awareness and encourage women to get gene tested to see if they may be “living under the shadow of cancer.” She says, “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”  She will continue to share more about her journey going forward, which will be posted on the Pink Lotus Breast Center’s website.

Many of us have been affected by breast cancer, whether directly or because someone we love has been diagnosed.  Jolie’s story, and those like hers, and the stories readers have shared here in the past, help us come together to understand, raise awareness, and move forward in the fight against cancer.  It’s an opportunity to have a difficult discussion, to learn more about risk factors and family histories, to talk to survivors and learn from their journeys.  It doesn’t have to be October and dressed in pink for reminders of why it is important to know our bodies, family histories, and what things we can do to prevent and/or reduce our risks.

If you have a story to share, know it will be welcomed, and your courage and strength of sharing is truly inspiring.