Angelina Jolie delivered shocking news Tuesday, revealing that she had recently undergone a preventative double mastectomy due to cancer fears. Genetic testing showed that the Oscar-winning actress has the BRCA1 gene mutation, which meant she had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer. The drastic surgery has reportedly dropped that risk to 5 percent. "The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy," Jolie says. That decision was likely influenced by her previous life experiences.
Her mother's death from cancer: The mother of six lost her own mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to a long battle with ovarian cancer. Jolie speaks of her late parent often and was deeply affected by her loss. "Everything was for her children," the actress said in 2011. "I will never be as good a mother as she was." In a 2012 interview with Marie Claire, she spoke of her belief that her mother hung on through painful chemotherapy to ensure that her daughter was all right with her own growing family. "My mom was born to be a grandmother; she would have just loved it."
Like any devoted daughter, Jolie was sure her mother would recover. Watching such a strong, noble woman eventually lose the fight makes the fatal threat of cancer very real. In her New York Times editorial, Jolie says she often spoke with her children about their grandmother. "They have asked if the same could happen to me...I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene."
Making the most of second chances: Jolie once had a lengthy history of being tabloid fodder for being a "bad girl." More recently, she's graced headlines as a loving mother and humanitarian. While some say her more recent image seems like an atonement for past acts, she'd probably beg to differ. "For many reasons, I shouldn't be here," she confessed on "60 Minutes" in 2011. Now that she's older, it seems the former wild child doesn't want to take any more chances with her future.
The Hollywood icon said that she made this personal story public in order to shed light on these issues and "enable other women to get testing and make informed treatment choices." Would you make the same decision she has?
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