Actress Angelina Jolie writes in an opinion piece in The New York Times that she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy, because she carries a "faulty" gene, BRCA1, which increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," she wrote. "I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."
Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures on April 27, and that she had been able to keep the surgeries private while continuing with her work.
"But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," she notes. "But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
Jolie has reconstructed her breasts and writes that her children "see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was."
For those who were wondering about her husband’s role in the surgeries, she writes, "I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries."