Actress Angelina Jolie underwent a secret double mastectomy earlier this year (13). The Salt star made the decision to undergo preventative surgery and have both of her breasts removed in February (13) after doctors told her that she carried the "faulty" gene BRCA1 and had an 87 per cent risk of contracting breast cancer. The Oscar-winner explains her reasons for going under the knife in an article for the New York Times, published on Tuesday (14May13), and praises her long-term partner Brad Pitt, who was with her during her surgeries at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, California. She writes, "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 per cent to under five per cent. (Now) I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity. "For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. "I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. "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." Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died in 2007 at the age of 56 after a nearly decade-long battle with ovarian cancer.