Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Reaction is pouring in following Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she underwent a double mastectomy. The actress said she did it to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
Mary Bubala has more.
Angelina Jolie says she opted for the procedure after learning she carries a gene called BRCA-1 and had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer.
Jolie underwent the double mastectomy about three months ago and was awaiting reconstructive surgery when she attended the G-8 summit in London last month. She broke the news in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. She writes, “Once I knew my reality, I decided to be proactive and minimize the risk as much as I could.”
Thirty-nine-year-old Janna Freishtat says she has the BRCA-2 gene and will undergo the same procedure as Jolie this summer at GBMC. She says it helps to see the actress be so open.
“Somebody who has to be out there in the public is able to do it without reservation for basically the same reason that I decided to do it: for her family,” Freishtat said.
Both women say their decision is about being alive and healthy for their children after seeing family members suffer from cancer.
Jolie’s mom died of ovarian cancer in 2007 and she spoke about her loss to “60 Minutes.”
“She was the most generous, loving…she’s better than me,” she said.
It’s a similar story for Allyn Rose, the former Miss Maryland and current Miss DC. She says she has a genetic mutation and will undergo a double mastectomy after losing her mom to cancer at such a young age.
“It’s like a ticking time bomb for me. It’s not a matter of if; it’s always a matter of when,” Rose said.
BRCA tests have been available since the early 1990s but doctors and genetic counselors are seeing more women making the bold choice for surgery before cancer even develops.
“It’s a lot of anxiety going to your yearly mammogram and breast MRI and really anticipating what could be there, so some women will say, `I can’t deal with that anxiety so I would rather have my breasts removed,’” said GBMC genetic counselor Christy Haakonsen.
Jolie says her chances now of developing breast cancer are down to five percent, below what’s normal for most women.
Jolie’s genetic testing also revealed she has a 50% chance of ovarian cancer. She says deciding what to do about that risk is her next battle. Jolie’s fiance, Brad Pitt, was by her side for their surgery and recovery. He calls her decision “absolutely heroic.”