As Angelina Jolie made the difficult decision to have her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed in March, her mother’s own eight-year battle with cancer was never far from her mind.
“We had some of the same nurses, some of the same doctors,” Jolie told Tom Brokaw in a interview with husband Brad Pitt on Monday. “The doctor that did my ovary surgery was my mother’s doctor. And apparently my mother had said to her, ‘Promise me you will take Angie’s ovaries out,'” Jolie explained.
Jolie’s mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 and died at 56 years old in 2007. Jolie and Pitt’s upcoming movie By the Sea was inspired by Jolie’s bereavement after her mother’s death. Jolie not only acts in the film but she writes, directs and produces.
“We can’t say what the whole film is about, but a lot of the film was when I went to visit my mom in the hospital, when she found out she had cancer the first time, she was gonna have her ovaries removed, (and) she was very upset, feeling like…they’re taking out her parts that were female,” she said.
Eight years after Bertrand’s death and months before the death of her aunt from breast cancer, Jolie underwent a double mastectomy after testing positive for a gene with an 87 percent risk of her developing breast cancer. In March of this year, a blood test showed she could have signs of early-stage ovarian cancer, leading to her latest procedure.
“I was out in France, when Angie called me, I immediately got on a plane to see her,” Pitt said.
Jolie’s ovarian surgery also brought on the early onset of menopause. She said:
“Every woman is different when they go through menopause, and…I didn’t know emotionally how I would feel,” she said. “I knew the breast would be a bigger surgery and physically changing. The ovaries is more, your hormones changing and your emotions changing.”
Her ordeal only strengthened the bond between the couple, who have been together for 10 years, married for one, and have six children together.
“There was no vanity to my wife’s approach,” Pitt said. “It was mature. This is our life and we’re gonna make the best of it. There was a strength in that. It was just another one of those things in life that makes you tighter, and she was doing it for the kids,me and the family.”
Jolie said, “I knew through the surgeries that Brad was by my side, and he assured me nothing was gonna change his love for me.”
The new film, which is the first time the two are together on screen since “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2005, also depicts Pitt and Jolie in a troubled marriage.
“We were joking at one point,” Jolie said. “We were saying, like…’See, this is the beginning. And then this is ten years later. This is what 10 years of marriage will do to you.”’
After all their time together, there is still one area where Jolie admittedly needs some work.
“Every three months I’ll say, ‘Honey, I think I should learn how to cook,”’ she said.
“I just humor it,” Pitt joked. “But really, she has no business in the kitchen.”