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Angelina Jolie Underwent a Double Mastectomy To Avoid Her High Risk of Getting Cancer

Angelina Jolie reveals that she's staying alive for her kids. Had surgery to prevent cancer.

Actress Angelina Jolie, 37, revealed earlier today that she underwent a double mastectomy after learning she had inherited a high risk of breast cancer and said she hoped her story would inspire other women fighting the life-threatening disease.

Angelina disclosed her story in an op-ed column in the New York Times.

She wrote that she went through with the operation in part to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, as her own mother did at age 56.

"We often speak of 'Mommy's mommy,' and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me," she wrote in the column.

"I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene."

Angelina opted for the surgery after her doctors said she had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, due to an inherited genetic mutation.

"Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy," she said. 

She said her breast cancer risk had dropped to under 5 percent as a result.

Celebrities, cancer survivors and doctors expressed admiration for her openness, saying Angelina was an inspiration for other women.

Angelina opted for reconstruction with implants. Breast tissue was removed during surgery and temporary fillers were inserted in their place. Nine weeks later the surgery was completed with the implants.

"On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman," she wrote. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

The actress decided to be open about her surgery after finishing treatment to help women who might be living under the shadow of cancer.

"It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested," she said.

What a courageous woman!