ANGELINA Jolie’s decision to have a preventative double mastectomy was “absolutely heroic”, according to her partner Brad Pitt.
• Actor Brad Pitt praises partner Angelina Jolie and calls her “heroic”
• Ms Jolie announced double mastectomy operation after learning she carried 87 per cent risk of breast cancer
• Actress also carried hereditary 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer because of faulty gene
The 37-year-old Hollywood star took the decision to have the procedure because she carries the “faulty” gene BRCA1, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Jolie revealed the news yesterday in an article for The New York Times and has been praised by health campaigners for helping raise awareness of breast cancer.
Fight Club star Pitt said it marked “a happy day for our family”.
He said: “Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic. I thank our medical team for their care and focus.
“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.”
The Tomb Raider actress and campaigner said doctors told her she had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
She said she was writing about her ordeal in the hope that other women might benefit from her experience.
The star, in an article entitled My Medical Choice, said she finished the three months of medical procedures on April 27, and added: “During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.”
She wrote: “I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive.
“So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition.
“Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.
“We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
Jolie, whose mother had cancer and died at 56, said waking up from the operation can feel “like a scene out of a science-fiction film” .
She said the decision to have the mastectomy was not easy but that she was happy to have gone ahead with it.
Urging women to get checked out, the star said: “For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.
“I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”
Jolie said her chances of developing breast cancer had dropped from 87 per cent to under 5 per cent.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she said.
Comment: ‘Celebrities raise awareness of killer disease’
WE’RE sorry to hear that Angelina has the BRCA 1 gene fault. In sharing her story, it is understandable that women will now be asking: “What does this mean for me?”
First and foremost it’s important that women do not worry unduly; BRCA gene faults are rare and in most cases are linked to a strong family history of breast cancer, but we would urge anyone who is worried about their risk of breast cancer to talk it through with their doctor.
Breakthrough’s Best Treatment guidelines – which can be downloaded from our website – provide essential information for women, letting them know what they should expect from their treatment and what their options are each step of the way.
Angelina is not the first celebrity who has spoken publicly about her BRCA gene. Our supporters, Sharon Osbourne and Michelle Heaton have both spoken about their preventative double mastectomies.
This not only helped raise awareness of the disease, it also helped women take steps to identify their own risk of cancer and, where necessary, take measures to reduce this risk.
We’re working hard at Breakthrough to identify the causes of breast cancer so that in the future women at high risk have even more, potentially less-invasive, prevention options.”
• James Jopling is director for Scotland at Breakthrough Breast Cancer
Case study: ‘It’s OK, it doesn’t make you less of a woman’
OONAGH Wilson, 46, from Elgin, had a double preventative mastectomy after watching her mother die from breast cancer.
Although her grandmother and an aunt had also died of breast cancer and another maternal aunt was diagnosed, Ms Wilson said the disease was “never spoken about” in her family.
“When I heard Angelina Jolie had spoken out my main thought was “that’s good. Another young person is coming out saying it’s OK to do this, that it doesn’t make you a lesser person, less of a woman.”
Mrs Wilson, who has two children Beth, 18, and Josh, 21, said: “When mum was diagnosed in 2002 a little light bulb went on in my head.
“We were at a meeting with the geneticist when my mum was ill I was told it was something they could look into for me. I just thought “brilliant”.
“I’m not one for sitting back, not having seen what my mum went through. My husband Richard supported my decision.
“People said I was brave but I said “no, being brave is fighting cancer, I took the easy way out”.
Mrs Wilson said she did not regret having the operation, in July 2003, before getting the results of her cancer gene tests which subsequently proved negative.