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Last week the New York Times published a shocking op-ed penned by actor and activist Angelina Jolie, titled “My Medical Choice”.

In it, Jolie announced that in April she had a double mastectomy even though she did not have breast cancer. The operation was preventative.

Jolie lost her mother at age 56 from the disease, and Jolie herself carries the BRCA1 gene, a mutation of the BRCA gene, which she says increases a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer by 65 percent. Jolie’s doctors estimated her risk at 87 percent, and at 50 percent for ovarian cancer, which is also affected by the mutated gene.

In the piece, Jolie described the procedures she underwent, including the “nipple delay” pre-treatment to increase the survival chances of the nipples, followed by the mastectomy and later the reconstructive surgery.

“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,” wrote Jolie. “But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”

Feeling empowered for taking action and feeling no less feminine because of the surgery, Jolie wrote, “For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

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