Stunning news from Angelina Jolie—she reveals she's undergone a double-mastectomy because she was at risk of developing breast cancer.
The Oscar-winning actress broke the news in an op-ed for today's New York Times under the headline: "My Medical Choice."
Thirty-seven-year-old Jolie, who lost her mother to cancer at age 56, decided to have her breasts removed when she learned she was carrying a deadly cancer gene.
In her op-ed piece, Jolie wrote, "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."
The hush-hush surgeries, including implants, were carried out over a three-month period, during which Brad Pitt was always at her side.
"I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive," she wrote in the Times. "We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."
Jolie underwent her surgeries here at the Pink Lotus Breast Center. It's a state-of-the-art medical facility run by women exclusively dedicated to treating breast cancer patients. They fiercly guard their patients' privacy. Angelina Jolie arrived in secret, and no one spotted her.
Pitt today is calling his fiancee's decision "heroic," saying, "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."
The gene Jolie carries is known as BRCA1. She writes that her doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Senior Medical Contributor for ABC told INSIDE EDITION, "She chose to have preventive surgery with a prophylactic double mastectomy, which has been proven to dramatically reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. It doesn't drop it to zero, but it does considerably lower it."
Here's the timeline for Angelina Jolie's medical ordeal that is only now coming to light.
February 2: Jolie enters the Pink Lotus Breast Center for the first stage in her treatment. She has a "nipple delay," a procedure that increases the odds of saving the nipple by drawing in extra blood flow.
Feb. 16: The major surgery is performed. The breast tissue is removed.
Writes Jolie: "You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feels like a scene out of a science fiction film."
March 26: Jolie is in the Congo to bring attention to that war-torn part of Africa. Dressed in a loose blouse and blazer, and later a buttoned up shirt, you'd never know that she was in the middle of major surgeries.
April 5: She's in New York taking her kids to F.A.O. Schwartz toy store.
April 11: She flies to London, to attend the G-8 Summit.
April 27: Jolie's final surgery, the reconstruction of her breasts with implants.
Jolie's announcement is sparking heaps of praise, and emotion across the airwaves.
On The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck said, "Four women total on both sides of my family have breast cancer. It's certainly something that I think about every day."
Barbara Walters said, "My sister passed away from ovarian cancer and I had my ovaries removed."
Jolie, a mother of six, writes that her children had a lot to do with her decision to undergo the double mastectomy.
"I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can."
She wants everyone to know that she does not feel diminished in any way by the double mastectomy.
"I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."