Yesterday, Angelina Jolie penned a heart-wrenching op-ed piece in the New York Times detailing how she, at 39, was in the throes of menopause having undergone a hysterectomy.
Titled Angeline Jolie: Diary of a Surgery, the actress-tuned-director and mother-of-six wrote, on learning that a blood test revealed she could be in the early stages of cancer: 'I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.
'I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.'
For Angelina, this procedure proved to be a preventative one, in the same way the double mascetomy she underwent in 2012 was, too. The actress made the difficult decision to have both ops owing to the fact her grandmother, mother and aunt all died of cancer. At the time of her double mastectomy, Angelina explained: 'My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.'
As one of the most famous people in the world, Angelina's decision to undergo such procedures, and to speak about them, will no doubt influence other women facing a similar dilemma. In fact, a study from 2014 revealed that Angelina's announcement about her double mastectomy led to a doubling in NHS referrals for women who wanted to know if they were at risk of developing breast cancer.
But, of course, this isn't the first time Ange has spoken out to help her fellow woman – there's more than one reason why Angelina was recently voted the most admired woman in the world. Here they are…
Her endless campaigning to help female refugees
In her role as Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie has done much to help women affected by war. Alongside Foreign secretary William Hague, last hyear Jolie held a global Summit which welcomed over 100 countries and 900 experts which aimed to help find an end to sexual violence in conflict. As well as visiting women affected by sex crimes in war torn countries and listening to their experiences, Jolie recently opened a centre to fight warzone violence against women – the first of its type in Europe. On opening the centre in London, Jolie called for 'the empowerment of women to be the highest priority for the finest minds, in the best academic institutions.'
She's got six children – but she's more than just a mother
'My children will never have to say "Mom died of ovarian cancer", Angelina wrote in the New York Times after her hysterectomy. It's abundantly clear that Jolie's and Brad Pitt's six children – Vivian, Maddox, Shiloh, Zahara, Pax, Knox and Vivienne – are incredibly important to them both. But with a high profile career, straddling both the worlds of film and campaigning, her family life is by far the only thing that defines her.
She's one of the few female directors in Hollywood
When Angelina announced she would be focusing her talents behind the camera, rather in front of it, many of her fans were understandably dismayed. But given the fact the number of female directors in Hollywood are actually dwindling, rather than increasing, Jolie's is a much-needed presence.