The actress — who also wrote, directed and produced the film — opened up to NBC’s Tom Brokaw about visiting Bertrand in the hospital when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 and had to get them removed. Bertrand died at 56 years old in 2007.
“She was very upset, feeling like … they’re taking out her parts that were female,” explained Jolie, alongside Brad Pitt. “There was a woman down the hall who was wailing. I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet, and that put everything into perspective.”
When Jolie showed signs of early-stage ovarian cancer, she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in March — also, as part of a promise made long ago.
“The doctor that did my ovary surgery was my mother’s doctor, and apparently my mother had said to her, ‘Promise me you will take Angie’s ovaries out,'” she said. “So when we kind of got together, we both had a big cry, and she said, ‘I promised your mother, and I gotta do this.”’
Pitt talked about finding out the news that Jolie had possible signs of early cancer. “I was out in France, and Angie called me and I got straight on a plane to return,” said Pitt. “Seeing my wife have to be her strongest and knowing that it’s the scariest news is terribly moving. And not being there is a horrible feeling.”
He called her decision mature, and said it showed strength. “It was just another one of those things in life that makes you tighter, and she was doing it for the kids, and she was doing it for her family so we could be together.”
“I knew through the surgeries that he was on my side and that this wasn’t something where I was gonna feel less of a woman because my husband wasn’t gonna let that happen,” Jolie said of her early menopause. “To face these issues together and speak about them and talk about what it is to be human, I think can be a beautiful thing.”