Angelina Jolie got deeply personal about her connection to cancer in a new op-ed. In the piece, the mother-of-six opens up about the generational affects the disease had on her life as a whole. Angelina’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, grandmother and aunt lost their battles with cancer. In the years since her mother’s passing, the actress has started her own family and wishes the women were around to experience her children – and has been inspired to take steps to prolong her life.
“My hope is to give as many years as I can to their lives, and to be here for them. I have lived over a decade now without a mom,” she wrote for Time magazine. “She met only a few of her grandchildren and was often too sick to play with them. It’s hard now for me to consider anything in this life divinely guided when I think of how much their lives would have benefited from time with her and the protection of her love and grace.”
In 2013, Angie underwent a preventative double mastectomy and later on removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes to significantly decrease the risk of contracting either ovarian or breast cancer. As a result of having a high genetic risk of the illness, the First They Killed My Father star revealed that she has a hormone patch and regularly gets health checkups.
Angelina noted, that although she sees obvious signs of change in her body, she has a stronger connection to women. “I’m alive, and for now I am managing all the different issues I inherited,” she wrote. “I feel more connected to other women, and I often have deeply personal conversations with strangers about health and family.”
She continued: “People also ask how I feel about the physical scars I carry. I think our scars remind us of what we have overcome. They are part of what makes each of us unique. That diversity is one of the things that is most beautiful about human existence. The hardest scars to bear are often invisible, the scars in the mind.”
In honor of breast cancer awareness month, the Maleficent actress is speaking out to ensure that women and girls all over the world have proper access to the same health care and preventative research that she has. “All medical discoveries that extend our lives are welcome. But the bodies we are hoping to heal also need to be respected and spared preventable harm. Only if we feel safe and cared for are any of us able to reach our full potential.”