Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY
Actress Angelina Jolie revealed in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday that she quietly underwent a preventive double mastectomy after discovering she carried the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
"My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%," Jolie writes. "I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
She says she feels "empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
PHOTOS: Angelina Jolie reveals she had double mastectomy
Jolie salutes her partner, Brad Pitt, who she says was with her during her surgeries at the Pink Lotus Breast Center.
"I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive," Jolie writes. "So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition."
Jolie says she decided to share the story of her surgeries in the hopes that it will benefit other women at risk. She encourages women to be proactive about their health if they have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, while acknowledging the cost of gene testing in the U.S. remains an obstacle for many.
"I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer," Jolie writes.
Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died at age 56 after a nearly decade-long battle with ovarian cancer.