Angelina Jolie opened up about her recent surgeries in a candid interview with Tom Brokaw for the Today Show. The 40 year-old actress and director revealed that after battling ovarian cancer for almost a decade, her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand, had told doctors and nurses to “promise” to take her daughter’s ovaries out.
“[My mother and I] had some of the same nurses, some of the same doctors,” Jolie told Brokaw. “So, the doctor that did my ovary surgery was my mother’s doctor. And apparently my mother had said to her, ‘Promise me you will take Angie’s ovaries out’. So when we kind of got together, we both had a big cry, and she said, ‘I promised your mother, and I’ve gotta do this.”’
Angelina’s mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 and passed away in 2007, at the age of 56. Joined by her husband, Brad Pitt, Angelina opened up about her mother’s battle and how her grief influenced their new movie, By The Sea, a drama about a troubled marriage (not based on their own).
“We can’t say what the whole film is about, but a lot of the film was when I went to visit my mom in the hospital, when she found out she had cancer the first time,” Jolie detailed. “She was going to have her ovaries removed, [and] she was very upset, feeling like…they’re taking out her parts that were female, and there was a woman down the hall who was wailing. I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet, and that put everything into perspective.”
It was during the editing process for the film that Jolie learned that she could have signs of early-stage ovarian cancer and then made the big decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. This came two years after she underwent a double mastectomy.
“I was out in France, and Angie called me and I got straight on a plane to return,” stated Pitt of when Angelina told him the news. “Seeing my wife have to be her strongest and knowing that it’s the scariest news is terribly moving. And not being there is a horrible feeling.”
“I made the choices I made because I thought they would be the best for me,” stated Jolie who after the surgeries went through an early onset of menopause. “Every woman is different when they go through menopause, and…I didn’t know emotionally how I would feel,” she said. “I knew the breast would be a bigger surgery and physically changing. The ovaries is more, your hormones changing and your emotions changing, but it’s different. You feel different.”
But throughout the experience Pitt was constantly by her side supporting her in every decision that she made.
“No question, it was a scary decision. There are many things that can go wrong and go many different directions…There was no vanity to my wife’s approach. It was mature,” he said. “‘This is our life and we’re gonna make the best of it.’ There was a strength in that. It was just another one of those things in life that makes you tighter, and she was doing it for the kids, and she was doing it for her family so we could be together.”
Now, after sharing her experience with the world and having her husband by her side, she is grateful for having the support of many.
“He made it clear that what he loved and what was a woman to him was someone who was smart and capable and cared about her family. It wasn’t about your physical body. So I knew through the surgeries that he was on my side and that this wasn’t something where I was gonna feel less of a woman because my husband wasn’t gonna let that happen,” Jolie expressed adding, “To face these issues together and speak about them and talk about what it is to be human, I think can be a beautiful thing.”
By The Sea comes out in theaters on Nov. 13.