Angelina Jolie‘s doctor marveled at the actress’s spirit and optimism during the three months of surgeries needed to complete her double mastectomy, and says her speedy recovery was due in large part to her positive outlook.
“To a large extent, I believe recovery reflects expectation,” Dr. Kristi Funk of the Pink Lotus Breast Center writes in a lengthy blog post offering step-by-step details of Jolie’s BRCA diagnosis, surgeries and recuperation.
“On day four after her mastectomies, I was pleased to find her not only in good spirits with bountiful energy, but with two walls in her house covered with freshly assembled storyboards for the next project she is directing,” Funk writes.
Jolie’s fiancé, Brad Pitt, was a constant presence as Jolie’s surgeries began Feb. 2 with a “nipple delay” procedure. “Her partner was on hand to greet her as soon as she came around from the anesthetic, as he was during each of the operations,” Funk writes.
The main surgery happened on Feb. 16, which was a Saturday. The lengthy operation went smoothly, and Funk and plastic surgeon Dr. Jay Orringer immediately performed the first stage of breast reconstruction.
“On Monday, the pathology returned and I called Angelina to confirm our biggest hope: all of the breast tissue was benign,” Funk writes.
Funk also discusses Jolie’s family history – that her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, had breast cancer and died from ovarian cancer, and that Marcheline’s mother was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer – and is blunt about the realities of the recovery process.
“All the while she spoke, six drains dangled from her chest, three on each side, fastened to an elastic belt around her waist,” Funk writes of her home visit with Jolie.
But Funk’s goal is clear: to urge other women who might be at risk to do something about it.
“Like Angelina,” she writes, “I urge women who feel they might have reason to be at risk for a BRCA gene mutation – perhaps because of a strong family history of cancer – to seek medical advice and to take control of their futures.”