Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Angelina Jolie Recovered After a Double Mastectomy

In February Angelina Jolie, who lost her 56 year old mother to a 10 year fight with breast cancer, began what has to be one of any woman’s most painful journeys – having a double mastectomy. The process which began in February ended in April. 

A couple of days ago she appeared on the red carpet with husband Brad Pitt at the London premiere of his movie World War Z. Interviewed by BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba, she spoke movingly about how grateful she was for all the tremendous support she received and that she was glad to see the discussion about women’s health expanded on. 

Brad Pitt seemed not to mind at all that he wasn’t the centre of attention, and when given the mic spoke of how this had brought the whole family together.

The operation was a preventative move. Jolie had been told by doctors that her chances of getting cancer were high in the light of the fact that she had the gene BRCA1. It meant she had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and 50% chance of ovarian cancer.  

She decided on the mastectomy because of the higher risk. The process involved a number of procedures done over three months, which ended in replacing the cancer-risk breast tissue with implants. Jolie, who wrote about it in the New York Times, said that she had been able to get on with her work fairly soon after each procedure. She said she felt wonderful, and she looked it, but she also looked very vulnerable. It was a brave decision to make and that she did it will probably make it a lot easier for other women to do the same.

My grandmother had a single mastectomy when she was quite young. She didn’t have the benefit of plastic surgery so I always knew her as having only one breast, but the operation was a success, even back then and she lived to be 99 years old. May Angelina Jolie and her family have the same good fortune.