Angelina Jolie's aunt Debbie Martin dies of breast cancer
Actress, who has had double mastectomy, has also lost her mother to the disease
Angelina Jolie’s aunt has died of breast cancer less than a fortnight after the actress drew international praise for her decision to have a double mastectomy.
Debbie Martin died in a hospital near San Diego, California, on Sunday. The 61-year-old, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2004, was the younger sister of Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who also died of cancer in 2007.
The death is likely to further vindicate the actress’s decision to have both breasts removed after she discovered she had inherited the defective gene BRCA1, which gave her an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
The 37-year-old Oscar-winner, who is married to Brad Pitt, was widely praised for her courage by health campaigners and politicians. The Foreign Secretary William Hague, who visited the Democratic Republic of Congo with Jolie recently as part of their joint campaign for international action against mass rape in conflicts, called her a “brave lady” who would be an “inspiration to many”. The actress, who is a United Nations special envoy for its work with refugees, said the reason behind her decision was to reassure her three biological and three adopted children that the illness which claimed their grandmother would not do the same to her.
Jolie’s operation has sharpened the debate over genetic diagnosis, allowing high-risk patients to take pre-emptive action against life-threatening diseases.
Debbie Martin’s husband, Ron, said his wife would have chosen to undergo preventive surgery like Jolie had she known about the risk of getting cancer before her diagnosis. “We have seen Angelina a number of times since Debbie was diagnosed with breast cancer,” he said.
“Debbie and I were both very proud of her recent decision to have the double mastectomy and to do everything she can to keep her family from having to go through what we’ve been through.”
BRCA1 is a mutant gene which greatly increases the chances of developing cancer. About 12 per cent of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their life, according to the US National Cancer Institute, and nearly two-thirds of women who inherit BRCA1 or a similar faulty gene, BRCA2, will contract the illness.
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Sir David Attenborough interview: The one question about life that still baffles him
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...
£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...