Angelina JolieIt was less than two weeks ago that Angelina Jolie made the shocking announcement that she had a preventative double mastectomy to lower her risk of breast cancer. At the time, she said her own mother's death from cancer was part of her motivation, but she made no mention of her aunt, Debbie Martin, who passed away today at the age of 61. The cause: Breast cancer.

Martin is the younger sister of Jolie's mom, Marcheline Bertrand, who died of the disease in 2007 at the age of 56. Debbie's husband, Ron Martin, told E! News that Debbie died around 1:30 a.m. today, and that Angelina has "been in touch throughout the week."

He told the Associated Press that Debbie was diagnosed in 2004 with cancer, and didn't know she had the BRCA1 gene until that time. "Had we known, we certainly would have done exactly what Angelina did." He said Debbie did have her ovaries removed once she knew, and that and they were proud of Angelina's decision:

We have seen Angelina a number of times since Debbie was diagnosed with breast cancer and 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.

You have to wonder how much her aunt's diagnosis played a part in Angelina's decision. I have to imagine it was not small. To see two women in your family ravaged by cancer at such an early age has got to be terrifying. In the midst of her mourning for her aunt surely this makes Angelina more confident in her decision than ever.

I also have to wonder if this news won't cause those who questioned and even criticized Angelina's decision to think again. I hope so. She clearly has some cards stacked against her -- dangerous, deadly cards -- and she made the brave decision to do what she could to play them in her favor for her family. She deserves nothing but support, admiration, and at this time, our sympathies.

Does this news change how you feel about Angelina Jolie's decision to get a preventative double mastectomy?

 

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