The Harrowing Story You Never Knew About Angelina Jolie



angelinaThough she definitely had her rebellious years, Angelina Jolie isn't one to open up her private life for the sake of publicity — though her efforts as a humanitarian activist are ongoing, she's not on the cover of tabloids every week to talk about it. She does her thing, quietly, and we've always respected her for that. And that respect grew quite a bit as we read an article she penned for The New York Times last night for the Op-Ed section. Titled "My Medical Choice," the brief but moving article tells the story of her mother's death from breast cancer — and her own recent decision to have a preventive mastectomy.

Jolie has known for years that she carries the same defective gene that killed her mother at 56, and left her with an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. "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," she writes. Through a series of surgeries, beginning with a special procedure to increase the chance of saving the nipples before breast tissue is removed and ending with implants, she eventually got to a place where she can safely tell her children that she will be there for as long as possible, "just Mommy," the same as she always was. And as for those politically, sexually, emotionally-charged symbols of womanhood? "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

This is a story about fear and strength, about partnership in the face of adversity. We can't say it better than Jolie herself, so we highly recommend you click over and read the full story. All we can do is applaud her for using her position as a notable figure for good (though it's not the first time). This can't have been easy, but her choice to tell this story publicly will hopefully encourage even more women to, as Jolie puts it, "take control" of their health early, and employ all options available. (The New York Times)

Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.