Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer.
In a powerful article written for the New York Times, the mother-of-six reveals she proactively opted to have the surgery because she carries a faulty gene that means she is much more likely to suffer from breast or ovarian cancer.
She said her "loving and supportive partner" Brad Pitt had been by her side while she underwent three months of operations earlier this year to remove breast tissue and replace it with implants.
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In the article entitled My Medical Choice, Angelina, 37, said that her mother had fought cancer for nearly a decade before passing away at the age of 56.
"She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms," she wrote. "But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was."
The Oscar-winner had sought to reassure her children that the same illness would not take her away from them, "but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my rush of developing breast and ovarian cancer".
She said once she "knew that this was my reality", she decided to undergo the complex surgery which have seen her chances of developing breast cancer drop from 87 per cent to under five per cent. She began the medical procedures at the start of February and they were completed on April 27.
"I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," Angelina said. "It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable.
"They can see my small scars and that's it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.
"On a personal note, 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."
The actress went on to urge other women, in particular those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek medical advice so they could make their own informed choices about what steps to take.