Ahead of what would have been her mother’s 73rd birthday (May 9), Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie shared a moving Instagram post in which she urged women around the world to take care of themselves. Sharing a lovely throwback image of herself as a baby with her mother, Hollywood star Marcheline Bertrand, Angelina Jolie detailed her mother’s decade-long battle with breast and ovarian cancer. In her note – shared on the occasion of World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8) – the Changeling star wrote, “Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 73rd birthday. She passed away 15 years ago, after a long struggle with breast and ovarian cancer. In June, I will be a month away from the age when she was diagnosed. 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.” Marcheline Bertrand died at the age of 56 in 2007.
Urging women to “look after themselves,” Angelina Jolie continued: “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…”
Take a look the Angelina Jolie’s post here:
For context, the preventive surgeries that the Oscar winner is referring to in her note is a double mastectomy that she underwent in 2013, followed by surgeries to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. In addition to her mother, Angelina Jolie also lost her aunt and grandmother to cancer. Using her personal experiences to raise awareness about cancer, Angelina Jolie wrote in an essay for Time magazine: “My mother fought cancer for nearly a decade. As I stood in the hallway of the hospital waiting for my mother’s body to be collected and taken to be cremated, her doctor told me she had promised my mother that she would make sure I was informed about my medical options. Years later, I was able to have a genetic test that revealed I carried a gene, the so-called BRCA1, that predisposes me to cancer. The test came too late for the other women in my family.”
Explaining her decision to go ahead with the preventive surgeries, Angelina Jolie added: “I had an estimated 87% risk of developing the disease and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. Because of my high risk, experts recommended preventive surgeries. I had a double mastectomy and later removed my ovaries and fallopian tubes, significantly reducing, although not removing altogether, my risk of developing cancer,” adding that she hoped her choices will allow her to live longer.
Angelina Jolie was previously married to Hollywood star Brad Pitt with whom she shares six children.