angelina-jolie-mother-diesMy mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. 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.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian 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….

My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer….

And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.

~ Actress Angelina Jolie, op-ed in The New York Times, May 14

[Photo of Angelina Jolie with mother Marcheline Bertrand in 2001. Bertrand died of ovarian cancer in 2007]

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