In a stunning op-ed piece written in the New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie reveals she had a double mastectomy.
Jolie says she made the decision to have the preventative surgeries after doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
In her piece entitled "My Medical Choice," the actress also reveals she carries a "faulty" gene called BRCA1, which sharply increases her risk for developing the two forms of cancer.
Jolie's mother died of ovarian cancer at 56-years-old.
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could," Jolie writes.
[RELATED:Read Jolie's full op-ed piece]
Jolie finished three months of medical procedures on April 27. She writes she was able to keep this news private and carry on with her work.
"But I am writing about it now because I hope other women can benefit from my experience," Jolie says.
She encourages women to be proactive and try to discover any underlying medical issues that could contribute to an increased risk of cancer.
"The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy," Jolie says. "But it is one I am very happy that I made."
Doctors told Jolie her chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.
Jolie says her husband -- actor Brad Pitt -- was with her for "every minute of the surgeries."
The actress plans to post her "regimen" on the Pink Lotus Breast Center web site soon to help women understand what she went through.
"It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and...will know that they have strong options," Jolie writes.