Brad Pitt Hails Courage of fiancée Angelina Jolie
Brad Pitt today hailed his fiancée Angelina Jolie as “heroic” after the actress revealed she has undergone a double mastectomy because of her extremely high cancer risk.
Jolie, 37, revealed she had chosen the surgical procedure as a preventative measure after genetic tests revealed she had an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent chance of ovarian cancer.
The Oscar-winning actress, whose mother Marcheline Bertrand died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56, said she had taken the difficult decision so she could tell her children “they don’t need to fear they will lose me”.
Pitt told the Standard: “Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic. I thank our medical team for their care and focus.
“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.”
Writing in the New York Times, Jolie said: “My mother fought cancer for almost a decade. 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.”
The actress has six children – Maddox, 11, Pax, nine, Zahara, eight, Shiloh, six, and four-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne . She said she was speaking out to urge the “many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer” to get gene tested.
Jolie has completed three months of medical procedures including reconstructive surgery after the removal of both breasts.
The actress wrote how the process began on February 2 with a painful procedure known as a “nipple delay” which increases the chance of saving the nipple.
“Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
“Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful,” she said.
Amazingly, Jolie kept working throughout the past three months, making a high-profile trip to the Congo alongside William Hague and appearing at the G8 Summit in London last month to call for an end to sexual violence in conflict zones.
Jolie said her risk of developing breast cancer has now fallen to five per cent.
She praised the support of her fiancé and family, saying: “I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition.
“Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
Jolie added: “I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
Mr Hague said today: “This is a brave choice by a remarkable woman. The courage it must have taken not only to go through this treatment but then to speak about it to help other women is truly inspiring. Throughout it all her humanitarian work has not missed a beat. This is a courageous decision by one of the bravest people I know. I wish her and her family the very best.”