Angelina Jolie had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed last week after doctors detected a possible sign of early cancer.
The 39-year-old actress, who underwent a preventive double mastectomy in 2013, wrote a New York Times op-ed explaining her decision, which means the mother of six — three of whom are adopted — will not be able to biologically have any more children.
Jolie wrote that she was recently told by doctors that "a number of inflammatory markers" were elevated, which, taken together, could point to early cancer. She carries the BRCA1 gene, which brings an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, and her family has a history of cancer; her mom had breast cancer and died of ovarian cancer.
Jolie then had a PET/CT scan, which was clear, and the tumor test came back negative, but she still opted to remove her ovaries and tubes.
"In my case, the Eastern and Western doctors I met agreed that surgery to remove my tubes and ovaries was the best option, because on top of the BRCA gene, three women in my family have died from cancer," she wrote. "My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives. My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39."
"Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause," she continued. "I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared."
Jolie wrote that her kids now "will never have to say, 'Mom died of ovarian cancer.' " She encouraged women not to fear dealing with such issues and concluded the essay with: "Knowledge is power."
Picture credit: people.com