Staying cautious. Angelina Jolie urged followers to take cancer screenings seriously while paying tribute to her late mother.
“Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 73rd birthday,” the Maleficent actress, 47, captioned a polaroid photo of her and her mother via Instagram on Monday, May 8. “She passed away 15 years ago, after a long struggle with breast and ovarian cancer.”
Marcheline Bertrand died at age 56 in January 2007 after battling cancer for nearly a decade, and the actress and producer is survived by both Jolie and son James Haven, both of whom she shared with ex-husband Jon Voight. Bertrand’s mother and sister also died after battling cancer.
“In June, I will be a month away from the age when she was diagnosed,” Jolie shared in her tribute, which was posted on World Ovarian Cancer Day. “I have had preventive surgeries to try to lessen chances but I continue to have check ups. My mom loved [Jimi] Hendrix. And would always sign her letters Kiss the Sky. It took on new meaning after she passed. Sending my love to those who have also lost loved ones and strength to those who are fighting at this very moment for their lives and the lives of those they love. And to other women, please take the time to look after yourself and go for your mammograms and blood tests or ultrasounds, particularly if you have a family history of cancer.”
Jolie made headlines in 2013 when she elected to have surgery to prevent cancer. “We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy,’ and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us,” the Girl, Interrupted star wrote in a May 2013 essay for The New York Times. “They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”
Knowing her family history and genetic risk (doctors said she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer), Jolie opted to go under the knife. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy,” she explained.
She added at the time, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”
Pitt supported his then-wife’s decision. (She filed for divorce three years later in September 2016.)
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“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as many others like her, absolutely heroic,” Pitt said in a 2013 statement. “I thank our medical team for their care and focus. All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.”