Angelina Jolie Breaks Silence About Breast Cancer Surgery and BRCA

Actress Has No Regrets and Has Found Support

Getty Images

By Anne Cohen

Published March 05, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Angelina Jolie has no regrets.

The 38-year-old actress opened up for the first time about her decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“I’m great! I’m very happy I made the decision. I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like ‘Unbroken’ to have something to be really focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work,” the “Maleficient” star told EW, referring to her second stint in the director’s chair.

Jolie, whose mother died of breast cancer at 56, opted for the procedure after she tested positive for mutated BRCA-1 gene, which gave her an estimated “87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.”

She first wrote about her decision in a controversial essay published in the New York Times.

Ashkenazi Jews are much more likely than the general population to carry the BRCA mutation. In May 2013, filmmaker Joanna Rudnick was recovering from a double mastectomy when she read that Jolie’s Op/Ed.

“I had tears in my eyes,” Rudnick told the Forward at the time “She is going to save so many lives. I’m farklempt.”

Others criticized Jolie for her decision to go public, warning that she was, perhaps inadvertently, pressuring women to undergo unnecessary surgery.

But Jolie told EW that the publicity surrounding her story allowed her to find and become part of a community of people going through similar health challenges.

“I feel very, very close – much closer – to other women, and women who are going through the same thing. Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women’s issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer,” she told the magazine. “I’ve talked to men about their daughters’ and wives’ health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost their parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children.”

She added: “The reason that I wrote it was to try to communicate and help and connect with other women and other families going through the same thing. I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people.”


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!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • 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.