LOS ANGELES — Angelina Jolie was “heroic” for undergoing a preventive double mastectomy, her fiance, Brad Pitt, said Tuesday after she wrote an op-ed piece revealing her decision and describing the mastectomy process, which began in February.
“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic,” he told the Weekly Standard in a statement, also thanking their medical team.
“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children,” he said. “This is a happy day for our family.”
In not focusing on his wife alone, Pitt echoed Jolie’s intent to support other women who find themselves in the position of making the same decision.
“I choose not to keep my story private,” she wrote, “because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.” In Jolie’s case, her “faulty” BRCA1 gene and history of a mother who died at age 56 of ovarian cancer made for quite a dark shadow.
Jolie praised Pitt in her Tuesday New York Times op-ed, which went public late Monday night.
“I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
Her three months of medical procedures wrapped up April 27. Also on Tuesday, the American Cancer Society released a statement of its own urging awareness and caution regarding testing and prophylactic surgery.
“This does not mean every woman needs a blood test to determine their genetic risk for breast and / or ovarian cancer. What it does mean is women should know their cancer family history and discuss it with their regular provider. If appropriate, they should be referred to and have the opportunity to discuss their risk and their options with a genetic specialist,” said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the organization’s chief medical officer.
Brawley noted that insurance plans created since the Affordable Care Act must cover testing and counseling, but not necessarily surgery.
“A woman with a mutation of known significance must consider her quantifiable risk in making the very personal decision to have her breasts and ovaries removed or pursuing other options, such as more extensive screening for breast and ovarian cancer. Experts recommend women proceed cautiously, and receive a second opinion before deciding to have this surgery.
“The American Cancer Society Board of Directors has stated that ‘only very strong clinical and/or pathologic indications warrant doing this type of preventive operation.’ Nonetheless, after careful consideration, this might be the right choice for some women.”