Jolie's Double Mastectomy Decision for Kids

Actress had preventative surgery after she was told she had an 87 percent chance of breast cancer.
4:40 | 05/14/13

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Transcript for Jolie's Double Mastectomy Decision for Kids
Angelina jolie reveals that she had a double mastectomy by choice to prevent the breast cancer that killed her mom. It involved three months of surgical procedures starting in february, ending in april. She wrote such a moving op-ed in "the new york times." Huge story about one of the most photographed and followed women in the world and understandably she kept it all a total secret until she was ready to reveal it. And her decision to share this could help save a lot of lives. Abc's paula faris joins us with all the details this morning. Good morning, paula. Very few people knew until this morning. The oscar winner is 37, a mother of 6 and says she did this for her children telling her story overnight under the headline "my medical choice." Joli's difficult decision began in february she writes overnight "my doctors estimated I had ang 87% risk of breast cancer. Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy." Cancer took the life of her own beloved mother at only 56. Jolie shared the difficulty of explaining that to h six children. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and hold them in her arms but my other children will never have the chance to know her. We often speak of mommy's mommy and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy, but it is one I am very happy that i made. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer." Jolie underwent the medical procedure starting in february and completing the process on april 27th with her partner, brad pitt, by her side, calling him loving and supportive and a very important part of the transition. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it wo bring us closer and it has." On a personal note, "i do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered I made a strong choice that in no way di men initials my femininity." She chose to share her story now wanting more women to get tested and know their options. She hopes other women can benefit from my experiencement life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on d take control of." Now, her chances of developing breast cancer decrease to 5% from 87%. She did have reconstructive surgery, as well, and write that is her partner, brad pitt was by her side every minute of those surgeries, robin. As you said they've never been closer. For more let's bring in abc news senior medical contributor dr. Jennifer ashton. I know you were stunned like many of us when you picked up the paper and read her op-ed. Emotional decision and testing itself, some have to have counseling to handle the outcome. Exactly. Tell us about the actual testing. Simple blood test available at many doctors' offices, clinic, hospitals. Oftentimes it goes hand in hand with genetic consultation so someone can understand not just their permanent risk but the risk that is in their family. There are many options not just the one that angelina jolie took. That's correct. She chose to have preventive surgery which has been conclusively shown to not only reduce the risk but convey survival benefit, as well. Surveillance, which is just a high-tech form of screening while it does not drop the risk increases the rate at which it is detected and for some medication to lower the risk. For 87%, less than 5% for her is outstanding. Let's talk about cost here. She doesn't have to worry about it, but I mean the brca test is $3,000. The reconstruction. Sometimes insurance covers that. Sometimes it doesn't. Reconstruction, there's finally good news, robin. Sometimes this type can cost as much as $50,000 and sometimes the surgeon does not accept insurance so the patient will be responsible for that but good news, since 1998 congress actually passed a bill requiring women without insurance to be offered reconstructive options. It's critically important women need to ask their about their options. You'll provide more information for us. Absolutely on goodmorningamerica.Com on yahoo! And men need to know about it too. We go to washington where president obama is spending incoming fire on several fronts.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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