A reading list for Angelina Jolie: Top five mastectomy memoirs

Angelina Jolie wrote about her preventative double mastectomy in the New York Times this week. (Carlo Allegri/Associated Press)

This week, with a moving op-ed in the New York Times, movie star Angelina Jolie revealed that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy to avoid the strong genetic risk she is at for breast cancer. Jolie's news quickly went viral, as breast cancer -- and the risk of the disease -- is an issue that touches the lives of many, many people. With that in mind, we've compiled a "mastectomy reading list", but don't worry, it's not all as depressing as it sounds!

Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy by Geralyn Lucas


Journalist and TV producer Geralyn Lucas was only 27 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she refused to allow the disease to ruin her youth, spirit, and sense of self. Instead, she turned the experience into an empowering story that was adapted into a Lifetime Original TV movie (watch the trailer below). Lucas continues to spend her time and energy campaigning for women to get mastectomies early and often.

Blood Matters by Masha Gessen

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11 years after she lost her mother to breast cancer, journalist Masha Gessen learned that she, too, possessed the genetic mutation that made her an extremely likely candidate for breast cancer. This thoughtful and thoroughly researched book, which began as a series of essays for Slate magazine, is Gessen's exploration of the big decision she's faced with as a result of this new genetic knowledge: whether or not to undergo a preventative mastectomy. Blood Matters considers all the sides to this life-changing question, and offers an intriguing journey through the medical system as well.

Most of Me by Robyn Michele Levy


Canadian artist and writer Robyn Michele Levy had to face not one, but two harrowing medical diagnoses: Parkinson's disease and breast cancer. But her sense of humour kept her afloat through bad and worse news. Most of Me is a surprisingly lighthearted memoir about Levy's struggles with her health, rendered both heartbreaking and hilarious by Levy's sharp wit (the book was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 2012). Check out the book's trailer below:

Pretty is What Changes by Jessica Queller

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Jessica Queller is an actor-turned-writer who discovered that she possessed the "breast cancer gene" at age 34, while working as a writer on the TV series Gilmore Girls. Years before Jolie, Queller wrote about the "burden" of this knowledge in the New York Times. She ultimately underwent a preventative double mastectomy, and this book tells the story of that experience, and how it changed her relationship with her body.

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

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Marchetto is a successful New York cartoonist and fashionista party girl-type. Her approach to her 11-month battle with breast cancer is an illustrated laugh riot, although she manages to find the humour and absurdity in her disease and treatment without trivializing it. And Marchetto's story has an even happier ending than mere survival: it was recently announced that Cate Blanchett will be starring in an HBO film adaptation of the book.