Dear Angelina Jolie,

Dear Angelina,

I would like to thank you. By openly speaking about your decisions to have surgery following confirmation of a defective BRCA gene, you have helped to make it easier to face a similar situation ‘out loud’.  

Living in the public eye as you do, it can’t have been easy to invite the world into your private life so honestly, but by doing so you have made it more acceptable for others to talk. 

I myself have recently been confirmed as having the defective BRCA2 gene, so I’m a high risk for breast and ovarian cancer.  My mother has the same defective gene, and has already breast cancer twice.  Mum is now recovering from the first of two planned operations, a mastectomy, and is on the waiting list to have her ovaries removed.

I am talking to surgeons about my options.  I have already had both ovaries removed, with a hysterectomy, as treatment for a previous condition, so that is one less concern, but I will probably have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in the next year or so.

Thankfully, after mammogram and MRI scans, I have no immediate signs of cancer so there is no urgency and I can plan the operation in my own time.  

I have already had several conversations with my manager at work.  Despite being an unmarried man in his 50s, I have been able to talk openly about the issue because he immediately related it to your recent news stories.  That’s one less stressful situation!  

Most of my family are supportive of each other, we have had to work together to help Mum through chemo so there are few barriers there, but others are more understanding because it isn’t a taboo subject any more.

Once again, thank you.  Once the surgeries are all over with I’m going to do something to raise money.  I’ll try to find a specific cause, but at least I can contribute to cancer research generally.  

Best wishes

H

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