angelina jolie double mastectomy
by Ali Berman
Categories: Causes, People
Tags: .
Photo: cinemafestival /

Actress Angelina Jolie has made the brave decision to tell the world that earlier this year she had double mastectomy.

In an Op-Ed for the NY Times, Jolie outlines her reasons for undergoing surgery and writes that she hopes to inspire other women to get checked. Because she has the faulty gene, BRCA1, she writes, “My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.”

The actress and activist chose to do the “preventative double mastectomy” first, because of the higher risk and the more complicated surgery.

As for why she’s telling the world, she hopes it will benefit other women. She writes, “But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. 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.”

Because of this surgery, her risk for developing breast cancer has dropped from 87% to under 5%. Jolie, who lost her own mother to breast cancer, writes, “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”

However, Jolie worries about the prohibitive expense of being tested and that many women who should be can’t due to cost. “It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.”

The “Salt” star’s full regimen will be posted on the website of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. Read her full Op-Ed over at the Times, and be inspired by the brave actions of one woman who is hoping to inspire many by sharing her very private story.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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