7. Angelina Jolie

In 2013, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie wrote a groundbreaking op-ed in the New York Times. Jolie’s mother died at age 56 after battling cancer for nearly a decade. In the heart-rending editorial, Jolie recalls telling her children about the grandmother they never had the opportunity to meet.The children then asked their mother if the same thing would ever happen to her. Though she reassured them that there was no cause for concern, the truth wasn’t quite so simple. Jolie carries a specific gene, BRCA1, which drastically increases her risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. In fact, her doctors estimated she had a terrifying 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer due to her genetics.

Jolie made the difficult decision to have a preventative double mastectomy. Her natural breast tissue was surgically removed to reduce her breast cancer risk. Then, her breasts were surgically reconstructed using implants. It was a painful decision, but one she’s happy with; her risk of developing breast cancer is down to 5%, and she can assure her children they don’t need to fear losing her to the insidious disease. Jolie shared her inspiring story to encourage other women to learn they have options for reducing their risks of breast or ovarian cancer. As Jolie’s journey illustrates, plastic surgery can be about much more than just looks—it can even save lives.

Photo source: Angelina Jolie by John Peter