Angelina Jolie said Tuesday that she underwent preventative surgery to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed last week after doctors detected early signs of cancer.
“Two years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy,” she wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. “I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.
“I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes,” she said. “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.”
The Oscar-winning actress had been planning the procedure “months” down the road, but a doctor called two weeks ago with blood tests that indicated she may be in the early stages of cancer.
Jolie’s mother, grandmother and aunt all died from cancer.
“A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery,” she explained. “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.”
Brad Pitt flew back from France within hours to be by his wife’s side after she received the news.
Despite being forced into menopause, Jolie said, “it is nothing to be feared.”
“I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children,” she wrote. “Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.
“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.”