In a brave, must-read editorial for The New York Times, Angelina Jolie reveals that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year to reduce her risk of breast cancer. Jolie explains that it was her mother, who died of breast cancer at 56, who motivated her to take charge of her health. The actress, director and humanitarian explains that she is a carrier of a “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which puts her at an estimated 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer .
Jolie hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to be proactive about their own health:
“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
…For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”
We here at FITNESS applaud Jolie’s decision to take preventative measures against cancer and to use her celebrity to encourage other women to do the same. We’ve been inspired by other women who also chose to have preemptive mastectomies: our marketing manager, Kristin Guinan, who underwent the same procedure at age 27, and marathoner, soldier and mom Margaret Smith who decided to forgo reconstructive surgery after her mastectomy.
Early detection and action are important, and it is up to us to take control. In Angelina Jolie’s words: “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
- How to Do a Breast Self-Exam
- What You Need to Know to Prevent Breast Cancer
- “Why I Gave up My Breasts”
- “My Battle with Breast Cancer”
I’m sure you saw the big news today—Brad and Angelina are engaged! We were able to spend a few days in their lives during a visit to the posh resort Caneel Bay on the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Brangelina have spent weeks enjoying the property’s seven beaches while they rented expansive “Cottage 7.” Who knows…maybe they’ll make a return visit for more of the unique cuisine and unbeatable views for their honeymoon? Read on for five reasons we loved the resort and why you might want to check it out too (besides the possibility of a star sighting).
- Yoga overlooking the ocean. See photo above—enough said!
- Nearly private beaches for guests. No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Pitt loved Caneel Bay. The secluded nature of the property on St. John means that you’ll be able to unplug and detach from the outside world, if you like, and recharge your batteries with a book in a hammock or while building sandcastles with the kids.
- Active adventures are available for all interests. We opted for a tapas-style vacation, with bites of everything from kayaking and sailing to snorkeling, hiking and of course, yoga. But you can learn to paddleboard, windsurf and more if that’s more your speed! All gear is ready and waiting for you to rent and experts are on-hand for lessons.
- Indulgence in culinary and calorie-free delights. Fresh fare like gazpacho and seasonal fruit are in large supply and have rarely tasted better. (Maybe they were even more decadent when Brad and Angie had the best chefs from around the island cook for them privately in their cottage!) The real treat can be found in the massage cabanas, which are filled with flowers and also overlook the beach. When you have views like these, why not?
- Wake up with sand in your toes and fall asleep with waves in your ears. Coming from the mainland, the island scenery and tempo are a definite change of pace. Bonus: No paparazzi!
Now tell us: If you didn’t need to worry about a budget, where would your ideal vacation or honeymoon location be?