Angelina Jolie’s Fear and Inspiration: Her Beloved Mother’s Death from Cancer

Marcheline Bertrand and Angelina Jolie

Fred Prouser/Landov

updated 05/14/2013 AT 10:05 AM ET

originally published 05/14/2013 AT 10:55 AM ET

She wanted to live – but not die – just the way her mother did.

Not much is known about the details of Marcheline Bertrand’s seven-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was an intensely private person. But the actress’s death in January 2007 was clearly a catalyst for her daughter Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy.

Tellingly, Jolie began Tuesday’s New York Times op-ed, in which she revealed and explained her course of preventive treatment, by invoking her beloved mother, who was 56 when she died.

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