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Angelina Jolie's Aunt Dies of Breast Cancer

  • Reuters

US Actress Angelina Jolie in London, April 11, 2013.

US Actress Angelina Jolie in London, April 11, 2013.

Angelina Jolie's aunt died of breast cancer Sunday, May 27, nearly two weeks after the Hollywood movie star wrote about electing to have a double mastectomy when she learned that she had inherited a high risk of breast cancer.

Debbie Martin, the younger sister of Jolie's mother, died at age 61 at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, near San Diego.

Her husband, Ron Martin, praised Jolie's decision to get a double mastectomy, saying it made his late wife very happy.

"It gave her some, it gave her a lot of gratitude that she could have, that Angelina had now saved her own life, you know, whereas... and since she couldn't go back and save herself, she was very happy to hear that,'' Martin said during an interview.

Jolie, 37, is raising a family with fellow actor and fiance Brad Pitt. She wrote that she went through with the operation in part to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, as her own mother did.

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

"If there is a lot of women out there that have a high risk in their family they should get tested, and if they have that BRCA gene, then they have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action. And that is what Debbie would like to have happen,'' added Martin.

Jolie, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in her 1999 role for the film Girl, Interrupted, said she opted for the surgery after her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, due to an inherited genetic mutation.