Jolie implied as much in Sunday’s New York Times op-ed, in which she revealed that she had a double mastectomy after learning that she carries a “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which could dramatically increase her risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
“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,” she wrote.
Jolie, 37, said her doctors told her she has an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, lost her 10-year battle to ovarian cancer in 2007 at age 56.
Jolie’s partner Brad Pitt praised her decision to share her story.
“She could have stayed absolutely private about it and I don’t think anyone would have been none the wiser with such good results,” he told USA Today. “But 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.”
Through the months-long mastectomies and reconstructive process, Jolie appeared anything but afraid. Two days before her first surgery on Feb. 2, 2013, to remove breast tissue, she was photographed taking her twins, Vivienne and Knox, to the Natural History Museum in New York. In March, she traveled to the Congo on a humanitarian trip. On April 11, she appeared at London’s G-8 summit, just 16 days before finishing the process.
Back home, Pitt told USA Today, the couple’s six children helped ease Jolie’s recovery.
“We set up our own little post-op recovery that became pretty fun. You make an adventure out of it,” he said.
He called the experience “an emotional and beautifully inspiring few months.”
“It’s such a wonderful relief to come through this and not have a specter hanging over our heads,” Pitt told USA Today. “To know that that’s not going to be something that’s going to affect us. My most proudest thing is our family. This isn’t going to get that.”