ENTERTAINMENT

Angelina Jolie Aunt Dies From Breast Cancer, Two Weeks After Star's Double Mastectomy

27/05/2013 07:40 BST | Updated 27/05/2013 07:42 BST

Actress Angelina Jolie's aunt has died from breast cancer, less than two weeks after the star had a double mastectomy to avoid the disease.

Debbie Martin, the sister of Jolie's mother, passed away at the Palomar Medical Centre in Escondido on Sunday, aged 61, reported the Associated Press.

Jolie's mother Marcheline Bertrand died of breast cancer in 2007, aged 56.

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Angelina's aunt and mother both had the mutated BRCA1 gene

Debbie's husband, Ron Martin, said both sisters had the same mutated BRCA1 gene, which Jolie inherited. He told E! News that Angelina and her brother Jamie had been in touch to offer their support.

He told the Associated Press if they had known Debbie had the mutated gene, they definitely would have had an elective mastectomy, saying: "Had we known, we certainly would have done exactly what Angelina did."

Writing for the New York Times in an article titled 'My medical choice' she revealed the decision, saying she was "very happy" and paid tribute to her "loving and supportive" partner Brad Pitt.

The Hollywood star said she took the decision to have the procedure when doctors told her she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer.

The Tomb Raider actress said she finished the three months of medical procedures on April 27, and added: "During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work."

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Jolie said she was happy with the decision

She said to have the decision to have the mastectomy was not easy but that she was happy to have gone ahead with it.

"My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was.

"And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

Urging women to get checked out, the star said: "For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.

"I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."