It was the only logical decision.
Having watched her mother die at the age of 56 from cancer, a mum of six discovers she’s inherited the faulty gene that dramatically increases a woman’s risk of cancer.
She’s 37 and she wants to live to see her children grow up and to have the time to meet her grandchildren. The odds are hugely stacked against that happening – her chance of developing a malignant tumour in her breast is 87 per cent. Her risk of ovarian cancer is 50 per cent.
So, no choice at all, really. Opt for major surgery to cut away tissue where cancer is most likely to strike. Simple.
But it isn’t. A woman and her breasts; there’s a deep emotional relationship.
These bodily parts that have grown and changed with you during your life are symbols of femininity, motherhood, sexuality. The scalpel slices at your self-esteem, too.
She’s only one of many, all over the world, facing an identical decision. Some take the op, some prefer to wait and think some more.
And incredibly, some turn it down and pin their hopes on being in the lucky 13 per cent.
But this particular woman’s story is world news – because she is Angelina Jolie.
Let’s get something straight; Angelina has been no more courageous than any other woman with the BRCA1 gene who chooses mastectomy. Neither were her options any less black and white than theirs.
Why are we surprised that a film star feted as one of the most beautiful women in the world and, in 2005, the sexiest, a woman who is the partner of Brad Pitt, one of the most lusted-after men in the world, has put health and family before vanity? To do so makes us the shallow ones.
It’s her courage in telling us about her decision which is truly remarkable. It speaks volumes about the depth of this woman.
She didn’t have to; she did it solely to make others take notice.
She may well save lives as a result and for that, she deserves our respect and admiration.