Angelina Jolie's Aunt Dies of Breast Cancer — Had 'Jewish' Gene Mutation

Death Came Weeks After Actress Underwent Surgery

Hereditary Disease: Angelina Jolie’s aunt has died of breast cancer, the same disease that claimed her mother.
getty images
Hereditary Disease: Angelina Jolie’s aunt has died of breast cancer, the same disease that claimed her mother.

By Forward Staff

Published May 26, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Angelina Jolie’s aunt died of breast cancer Sunday, just two weeks after the Hollywood superstar revealed she’s had a double mastectomy to avoid the dreaded disease.

Debbie Martin, 61, died Sunday in a San Diego-area hospital, her husband Ron Martin told The Associated Press.

Martin had the same BRCA1 gene mutation that Jolie learned she has. The mutation is much more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jewish women than the general population.

Martin was the younger sister of Jolie’s mother Marcheline Bertrand, whose own death from cancer in 2007 inspired the surgery that Jolie described in a May 14 New York Times op-ed.

According to her husband, Debbie Martin didn’t know she had the BRCA1 mutation until after her 2004 cancer diagnosis.

He says had his wife known in advance of her genetic risk, “she would have done exactly what Angelina did.”

Both Jolie and her brother James Haven had been in contact with their dying aunt in the last week to lend their support.

“Angelina has been sending her wishes,” Ron Martin told People. “She and my wife texted each other.

The widower vowed the family would stand by Jolie as she copes with her surgery — and faces the possibility of more surgery to have her ovaries removed.

“Because of the BRCA gene in the maternal side of the family, Angelina did the smartest thing on earth,” Ron Martin told People magazine. “It takes a lot of courage to have your breasts removed.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.