Earlier this year, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she had a high probability of developing breast cancer.
The actress candidly discussed the elective procedure in a column for today’s New York Times titled “My Medical Choice.” Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 56 after battling the disease for nearly a decade. The loss of her mother strongly influenced her decision to have the procedure.
Husband Brad Pitt was there “for every minute of the surgeries,” Jolie notes, and said the experience has brought the couple closer together.
Jolie’s role as a sex symbol lends the narrative a special resonance, given how devastating the procedure can be for women’s self-image. “I do not feel any less of a woman,” she writes. “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Jolie opted for reconstructive surgeries and implants following the mastectomies. “There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.”
Jolie says she was able to carry on with her work during the three months of medical procedures. She’ll next be appearing on the big screen as the title character in Disney’s Maleficent. The film is set for a summer release in 2014.