Angelina Jolie On the Reaction to Her Double Mastectomy
A year later, the most beautiful girl at the U.N. talks about her controversial decision
It's that innate sense of caring, the compassion, that helped her nab the 2014 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, that drives her to launch startups like her Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative, and to serve as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And, its surely played a big part in adding four kids from far-flung areas of the globe into her family.
And, in a way, that prevailing concern for people played into her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy last year.
On the eve of the release of her highly-anticipated Disney film "Maleficent," Jolie, never one to do much press, opened up to Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican about that choice (she also touches on her kids, her man and, o.k. fine, the movie).
"I'm very happy I made the decision," Jolie, 38, says. "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."
Ten months ago, the world first learned Jolie had tested positive for the mutated BRXA1 gene. With doctors telling her she had "an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer," the Oscar winner says she felt like she didn't have any choicebut to go through with the three surgeries. And, for good reason.
"My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56," Jolie wrote in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times last May 14. "She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was."
Ever the family woman, Jolie didn't want to perpetuate the destiny of the disease and decided to be "proactive."
According to Cancer.gov, even with a total mastectomy, "not all breast tissue that may be at risk of becoming cancerous in the future can be removed," but Jolie decided to play the odds.
Most surprising, she says, was the outpouring of love and compassion from fans.
"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," she says, adding, "I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people."