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- Published: 05 April 2015
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Two years ago, Angelina Jolie published an essay in the New York Times detailing her decision to have a double mastectomy, news that drew much discussion on the matter. She has yet again undergone another procedure, this time removing her fallopian tubes and ovaries, which she writes about in another article in the New York Times.
The surgery, just like the double mastectomy she underwent in 2013, is meant to prevent cancer. Jolie is a carrier of a gene mutation by the name BRCA1 that greatly increases her chances of getting breast and ovarian cancer by 87 per cent and 50 per cent respectively. She says that her doctors, who are drawn from both Western and Eastern cultures, advised her that this was the best course of action for her. It is understandable why Jolie would choose to do this especially because both her mother and grandmother died of cancer.
In her piece in the New York Times, Jolie says that "It is not easy to make these decisions," then added, "I know my children will never have to say 'Mom died of ovarian cancer.' " However, Jolie makes it known that "a positive [BRCA] test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There are other options. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally."
The laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, that Jolie underwent, puts the 39-year-old squarely in menopause, which means she will never be able to have children again. Regardless, she writes, "I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because am strong but because this is a part of life."
But unlike Jolie who has with six children with husband Brad Pitt, there are women to whom this moment – where they have to confront ovarian cancer – comes earlier in life – which means that they cannot have biological children. But there is a procedure that could save their ovaries in the process and women who have to face ovarian cancer earlier in life have this option.
While many women in the same shoes may not choose this course of action, Jolie continues to be a beacon of hope and source of inspiration for women who may feel that something like this robs them of their femininity. She believes that despite these choices, she feels feminine and is glad that her children will never have to experience the death of their mother sooner than they should.