In an essay for today's edition ofThe New York Times, Jolie reveals that she voluntarily had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after another test revealed that she might have pre-cancerous tissues in those areas. While further testing showed there were no cancerous cells present, Jolie decided to move forward with the surgery.
"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," Jolie candidly writes. "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."
"It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer," she continues. "I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, 'Mum died of ovarian cancer.' It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power."
It's certainly refreshing that someone with as much exposure as Angelina Jolie is choosing to tackle serious, life-changing issues in such a public way. For women facing similar challenges and tough decisions, they can hopefully take something away from Jolie's experience.
Head to The New York Times to read her full essay. And tell us: Have you ever gone through something like this? Share your story in the comments below.