herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Angelina is 'amazing' - 9-time cancer survivor

BESTSELLING author and nine-time cancer survivor Emma Hannigan has said she believes Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is "amazing" for sharing her experience of undergoing cancer-preventative surgery.

The Oscar winner (39), who is married to Brad Pitt, wrote for the New York Times about having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent cancer, after discovering she had the deadly BRCA1 gene.

The actress, whose mother died of ovarian cancer, underwent a double mastectomy after first finding out she had the gene in 2013.

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Irish author Emma also has the faulty gene, which gives carriers an 85pc chance of developing breast cancer and a 50pc chance of ovarian cancer.

"I think she's amazing to do it because she has the world stage there and she didn't have to tell anybody, she could have just done this quietly," Emma said.

"She had the best help available and nobody needed to know, so I think she's very giving and very brave for standing up and talking about it.

"She is an A-list Hollywood star, but she's also a person."

The Wicklow author (42), who first discovered she was a carrier in 2005, has battled cancer nine times since 2007, despite undergoing drastic preventative surgery including a double mastectomy and having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

"I had the surgery and six months later I was diagnosed with cancer in my neck, shoulder and arm.

"There was pre-cancer tissue in my left breast that had already developed and it had spread, so you could say I was too late. But had I not done it (the mastectomy) I probably wouldn't be sitting here today.

"Effectively I've had breast cancer nine times, even though I don't have breasts."

There's a 50pc chance of passing the gene to the next generation but the mum-of-two points out that it's not a certainty.

"My mother carries the gene and thank goodness she has never developed cancer," she said.

"My grandmother died of old age - she carried the gene, but never got cancer."

hnews@herald.ie

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