Why would a woman want to under-go surgery, not plastic surgery, if she didn’t have to? That’s the question that the world had for 38-year-old, Angelina Jolie when she decided to proceed with a double mastectomy in February.
Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy after doctors informed her that she carried the “‘faulty gene” BRCA1. Studies show that people who carry this gene have an estimated 87 percent risk of someday developing breast cancer.
She didn’t immediately announce to her fans that she had gone through the process of having her breasts removed. However, she decided to share the news in hopes of helping other women who may be at a higher risk of contracting cancer as well.
“I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer,” she writes in an op-ed coming out in Tuesday’s New York Times. “It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”
Dr. Kristi Funk treated Jolie during her procedures. She will be featured on the cover of the September issue of Los Angeles magazine. In her article, she discusses Jolie’s experience and her choice to share her story with other women.
Funk says Jolie “waited to find the perfect timing in her personal and professional life, but I think most importantly in her soul,” to tell the world what she had been through. “She is intensely private, but she calculated the moment when she would be ready to reveal something so personal.” She continued telling “People”: “When someone who is arguably the most beautiful woman in the world removes the part of her body that is symbolic of femininity and sexuality, you have to say, ‘Why would she do that?’. She knew always that in her philanthropic core she couldn’t keep this a secret and be who she is,” says Funk. “She always knew.”
Jolie says, although the decision wasn’t easy, she is very happy with the choice that she has made, and has the love and support of her husband and family.
“I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive,” writes Jolie. “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. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
The risk of Jolie developing breast cancer, after the mastectomy, dropped to below 5 percent.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. It is reassuring that they 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. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. 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.”