The truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
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.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. 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.
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
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.
I've got no jokes here. This was a pretty brave thing for a woman—who has made her living off looking incredible—to tell the world. If her voice helps others, then maybe my mom will finally forgive her for diabolically homewrecking the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt marriage eight years ago. (There were a lot of US Weekly's lying around the house then.)
My only question: How the hell did Jolie keep this private? Other than Prince William and Kate Middleton (and I guess the Obamas), she and Pitt have spent the last few years as easily the most photographed couple in the world. She has photographers constantly tailing her. They stake out her house. Yet she managed to keep a lengthy stay in surgery secret? Was the CIA involved? I think the CIA was involved. Here's your sequel to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.