Monday was World Ovarian Cancer Day and Hollywood veteran Angelina Jolie is all too familiar with experiencing the disease, both from standing by a loved one who was suffering to even having a scare firsthand.
In 2007, Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 56. Six years later, in 2013, she lost her aunt to the same disease, leading the actress to undergo her own preventative procedures.
Tuesday marks what would have been Jolie’s mother’s 73rd birthday, so she took to Instagram on Monday to pay tribute to her mother and spread awareness about ovarian cancer.
“[My mother] passed away 15 years ago, after a long struggle with breast and ovarian cancer,” she captioned a childhood photo of herself sitting with her mother. “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.”
Born in 1950, Bertrand grew up through the sixties and experienced everything that came with it, including some of the time’s most influential musicians.
“My mom loved [Jimi] Hendrix. And would always sign her letters Kiss the Sky,” she continued. “It took on new meaning after she passed.”
“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,” Jolie concluded. “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.”
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks 5th in cancer-related deaths for women in the US, “accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.” A woman’s chance of having ovarian cancer is 1 in 78.
With continuously advancing treatments and more awareness being spread, ovarian cancer rates have slightly declined in the last 20 years, a rate that has particularly fallen more in recent years.
In 2013, after her aunt’s death from the disease, Jolie decided to undergo a double mastectomy after she discovered via genetic tests that she was carrying a mutated BRCA1 gene, per People.
Two years later, she experienced another scare of ovarian cancer and went through with removing her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Jolie wrote an essay published by Time Magazine in 2019 where she explained why she decided to undergo the procedures both for herself and for the sake of her family.
“I simply feel I made choices to improve my odds of being here to see my children grow into adults, and of meeting my grandchildren,” she wrote. “My hope is to give as many years as I can to their lives, and to be here for them.”