Angelina Jolie publicizes ovarian surgery

Mar 24, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy and famous actress Angelina Jolie (C) gives a speech during a press release after his visit at Hanke Refugee camp, built by UN for the Ezidi Refugees, fled from attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in 10 km west of Dohuk, Iraq on January 25, 2015.
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy and actress/director Angelina Jolie has revealed that she has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in order to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer. Jolie was found to have a gene mutation that makes her more vulnerable to both breast and ovarian cancers. Reuters reports:

The wife of actor Brad Pitt and the mother of six children said in an op-ed column in the New York Times on Tuesday that she had the surgery last week after blood tests showed what could have been early signs of the disease.
 
This second public revelation by one of the biggest names in Hollywood prompted a new round of praise from cancer specialists for increasing awareness about genetic testing and prophylactic surgery to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
 
The 39-year-old, who carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that increases her risk for both types of cancer, said she went public with her decision so women would know about options available to them.
 
"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," Jolie wrote. "I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."
 
 
I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors, researching alternative medicine, and mapping my hormones for estrogen or progesterone replacement. But I felt I still had months to make the date.
 
Then two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor with blood-test results. “Your CA-125 is normal,” he said. I breathed a sigh of relief. That test measures the amount of the protein CA-125 in the blood, and is used to monitor ovarian cancer. I have it every year because of my family history.
 
But that wasn’t all. He went on. “There are a number of inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer.” I took a pause. “CA-125 has a 50 to 75 percent chance of missing ovarian cancer at early stages,” he said. He wanted me to see the surgeon immediately to check my ovaries.
 
I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.
 
I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.
 
That same day I went to see the surgeon, who had treated my mother. I last saw her the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me: “You look just like her.” I broke down. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so “let’s get on with it.”

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE