Conscious of the power of her status, both as a celebrity and as a woman and mother, Angelina Jolie's made the impressive and brave decision not only to undergo preventative cancer surgery, but also to keep the public informed every step of the way. In a New York Times opinion piece that went viral last may, the Maleficent star and mother of six told the world of her decision to have a pre-emptive double mastectomy.
Now, once again, Angie has come forward with another startling confession - her mission to stay healthy is far from over. "There's still another surgery to have, which I haven't yet," the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner explained in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I'll, you know, I'll get advice from all these wonderful people who've I've been talking to, to get through the next stage."
She's made these difficult choices after genetic testing revealed she carries the BRCA1 gene mutation, which puts women at a higher risk for developing reproductive cancers. Apparently, since her confessional, there's been a significant increase in genetic testing at treatment centers nationwide. The TIME dubbed the phenomena "the Angelina Jolie effect," but really, with approximately 1 in 8 American women developing breast cancer during their lifetime, no press is bad press.
In addition to the numbers, the Girl, Interrupted star's post-surgery experience shows just how profoundly her struggle has raised awareness of these universal issues. "I feel very, very close-much closer-to other women, and women who are going through the same thing," Jolie holds. "Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women's issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer. I've talked to men about their daughters' and wives' health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost their parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children...The reason that I wrote it was to try to communicate and help and connect with other women and other families going through the same thing. And…I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people."
We assume the operation concerns Jolie's approximately 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer (the exact number varies based on the individual). For a woman who clearly loves mothering children, we can only imagine how difficult this realization must have been. However, it's perhaps a necessary evil, given that Jolie's own mother, Marcheline Bertrand, passed away from ovarian cancer at the relatively young age of 56. We all know that, should the Jolie-Pitts wish to further expand their brood, they've got no qualms about adopting. Right now, both Brad and Angie's main concern is the good of their family: "I will do anything to be with them as long as I can," the Academy Award-winning actress wrote in last year's Op-Ed. "[Brad and I] knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."
Months later, despite the prospect of more surgery, the actor-turned-director's resolve has not wavered: "I'm great!...I'm very happy I made the decision," she affirms. "I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like Unbroken to have something to be really focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work."
As always, we're rooting for you all the way, Angie!
By Cordelia Tai