Angelina Jolie

In an op-ed piece for the New York Times entitled “My Medical Choice,” Angelina Jolie revealed that she underwent a double mastectomy as a preventative medical procedure to protect her from what she felt could be her inevitable fate — developing breast cancer.

Anxious after learning that she had the “breast cancer gene,” BRCA1, the Oscar-winning actress and her beau Brad Pitt felt it would be in the best interest of their six children to take an aggressive approach to Angelina’s health and wellness.

According to doctors, by undergoing a double mastectomy, Angelina reduced her chances of developing breast cancer to an auspicious five percent from a daunting 87 percent.

“My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56,” Jolie writes. “She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.”

Although Angelina and Brad kept the process a secret from the public while going thru the medical procedure, the former PEOPLE most beautiful person felt it was necessary to share Angelina’s step-by-step double mastectomy story in order to help other ladies who may feel apprehensive about undergoing such a radical procedure, including addressing the effects losing one’s breasts may have on one’s sense of femininity.

“I do not feel any less of a woman,” Jolie writes. “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”

After recovering from the double mastectomy, Angelina went thru a cosmetic procedure to reconstruct her breasts and receive implants.

Many women have chosen preventive mastectomy since genetic screening for breast cancer was developed, but the move and public announcement is unprecedented from a star so young and widely known as Jolie.

According to reports, Brad Pitt, Angelina’s partner for the last eight years, was by her side thru the whole procedure.

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