Angelina Jolie Is Her Mom’s Hero

Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer shocked the world, even those closest to her.

No one knows her family’s struggle with the devastating disease more than the man who helped raise Jolie and lived with her mom Marcheline Bertrand for over a decade.

“She’s known for making movies and being one of the most beautiful actresses and that is her stock and trade for everything,” Bill Day told Celebuzz. “For a woman in that position to do what she did is very surprising. It’s undeniably brave.”

Day says Bertrand, who passed away at 56 from ovarian cancer in 2007, would have echoed Brad Pitt’s “heroic” sentiments.

“She would look at Angelina now as her hero. She’d be frightened for her, but at the same time, proud,” he said.

Day, who watched Jolie grow up from a precocious four-year-old to a rebellious 17-year-old as her mother’s longtime live-in partner, remembers vividly how cancer has “decimated” the family: Jolie’s great-grandmother, grandparents and uncle all passed away from the disease, while her aunt has been battling it for years.

Day, a documentary filmmaker, says when he met Bertrand she was already going to incredible lengths to ward off the disease, including radically changing her diet and even turning to her own “New Age” advisors.

“She freaked out,” he said. “She knew she had to change because her grandmother and mother all died at 45 or below. That will change you.”

And she wanted to make sure her children, Jolie and James Haven, learned to live the same healthy lifestyle.

In her emotional New York Times essay Jolie reveals that after discovering she carries a “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases the risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, she underwent the preventative surgery for the sake of her six young children and announced her private struggle to be an example for women to better understand their options.

For Day, why she chose such a public forum is the one thing that didn’t come as a surprise.

“She was always the mother hen-type. She was always a bright star. She was always an independent thinker,” he said. “And a lot of thinking went into this. She’s making all the right moves, she’s a sincere person and she continues to surprise us with the decisions she makes.”