Almost two years ago, Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing breast cancer.
Angelina’s mother died after a decade long battle with breast cancer. She was 56. Genetic testing revealed Angelina carries a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which greatly increases her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
In a new open letter in the New York Times, Jolie has revealed she’s in forced menopause after having her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed in another preventative surgery.
I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.
I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors, researching alternative medicine, and mapping my hormones for estrogenor progesterone replacement. But I felt I still had months to make the date.
Angelina also talked about the post-surgery changes her body is going through. She also encourages women, who may be in a similar situation to explore their options to find out what works best for them.
Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.
I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.
Angelina Jolie is such a champion and my shero! I sincerely appreciate her transparency as she fights for her life in hopes that it may encourage and inspire other women to be fearless in the face of cancer.