Angelina Jolie is doing well more than a year after undergoing a preventive double mastectomy and said she has been blown away by the support she has received from the cancer community.
Angelina confessed she was a little concerned about how people would react after she revealed her mastectomy and plans to get ovarian-removal surgery.
“I really didn’t know how people would react,” Jolie told ABC News (see video). “I didn’t know if there would be some kind of strange silly reaction. But I didn’t expect there to be so much support. And I was very moved by it. It’s connected me so much to other families, other women.”
Mastectomy Cut Breast Cancer Risk from 87% to 5%
In February 2013, Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy after genetic tests revealed she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, which gave her an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of contracting ovarian cancer.
As a result of her mastectomy, Angelina's breast-cancer risk has dropped to under 5%. Jolie's mother, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather all died from cancer, forcing the Oscar winner to take the radical step of preemptively removing both her breasts.
Jolie confirmed she will remove her ovaries in the near future. The ovary-removal procedure, called an oophorectomy, will lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 80% to 90% by reducing the amount of estrogen and progesterone circulating in the body.
Angelina first revealed she got a preventive double mastectomy in a May 2013 New York Times op-ed. Looking back, Jolie is happy she went public because it raised awareness of cancer prevention.
Hollywood Moms Shouldn't Complain
Angelina has been widely praised for her humanitarian work as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador, a post she has held since 2001. When asked whether she'd ever run for public office, Jolie was reticent.
"If I thought I’d be effective, I would," she said. "But I’m not sure if I would ever be taken seriously in that way, and be able to be effective. I wonder if by now if my skeletons are out. They’re probably all out (laughs)."
Angelina also said Hollywood moms like her shouldn't complain because they have easy lives compared to single moms or other families who are financially strapped.
I’m not a single mom with two jobs trying to get by every week. I have much more support than most people, most women in this world. And I have the financial means to have a home and health care and food.
I actually feel that women in my position, when we have all at our disposal to help us, shouldn’t complain. Consider all the people who really struggle and don’t have the financial means, don’t have the support, and many people are single raising children. That’s hard.”
Jolie, who's engaged to marry Brad Pitt, has yet to set a wedding date, but said the ceremony will definitely involve their six children.
"We don’t have a date, and we’re not hiding anything, but we really don’t know," she said. "The important thing is that whatever we do, the kids have a great time, and we all take seriously the love and the connection between all of us. But also just get silly and do something memorable."
Angelina revealed how her charity work and travels have impacted her outlook on life in her memoir, Notes from My Travels.