Two years after having a preventative double mastectomy, Angelina Jolie shares the emotional story of the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes
Angelina Jolie has revealed that she’s had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a preventative measure against cancer.
The 39-year-old actress had the surgery last week – two years after she had a double mastectomy – due to the fact that she is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, which gave her an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Ange has spoken out about her decision to have the second procedure in an emotional article for the New York Times and admits that she had known she would do it for a while, but was aware that it brings some difficult repercussions.
‘I had been planning this for some time,’ she says. ‘It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe.
‘It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors, researching alternative medicine, and mapping my hormones for oestrogen or progesterone replacement. But I felt I still had months to make the date.’
Ange, who has three biological children with husband Brad Pitt as well as three adopted, decided to have the surgery last week after a cancer scare. It’s moving to hear how Brad, 51, raced to be with her when he heard the news.
‘I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt,’ Ange explains.
‘I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.
‘I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarising, and it is peaceful.’
Things became even more emotional when Ange visited her surgeon in the same day. The doctor had previously treated the actress’s mum Marcheline Bertrand, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 56 after a battle with ovarian cancer.
‘I last saw her [the surgeon] the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me: “You look just like her,”‘ writes Ange.
‘I broke down. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so “let’s get on with it.”‘
The mum-of-six chose to have the preventative surgery now as she was warned to have it done 10 years before the earliest onset of cancer in her female relatives. Her mother was diagnosed at 49, so Ange knew it was the time.
Despite the incredibly difficult decisions and consequences involved in the procedure, Ange feels good and is remarkably open about the fact that she is not entirely out of the woods.
‘It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer,’ she admits. ‘I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system.
‘I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, “Mom died of ovarian cancer.”
‘Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.’