Angelina Jolie's decision to have a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year was a personal one, but as with most things the star says and does, it has taken on a very public significance. In the day or so since Jolie revealed the experience in a moving essay for the New York Times, fans, friends, and women's health advocates alike have stepped forward to praise the Maleficent actress, 37, for her courageous choice. The flood of well-wishes is seemingly endless -- and much appreciated, pal Nicholas Kristof wrote on Facebook.
"Angelina Jolie also asked me to convey her thanks," Kristof shared on May 14. "She is just so, so grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of public support that's she's getting. And she's grateful to all for taking this and running with it to start serious conversations about women's health."
A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, Kristof has spent a great deal of his career covering topics like poverty, education, and human rights -- all issues near and dear to Jolie's heart. He even wrote a book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which Jolie praised in a blurb on the back cover.
"Women facing poverty, oppression, and violence are usually viewed as victims. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky shows that unimaginable challenges are often met with breathtaking bravery," she wrote. "These stories show us the power and resilience of women who would have every reason to give up but never do. They will be an inspiration for anyone who reads this book, and a model for those fighting for justice around the world. You will not want to put this book down."
Kristof had similarly kind words for his friend and fellow Council on Foreign Relations member on Twitter. Calling Jolie "the gold standard for celebrity activism," he praised the star for starting "a conversation that'll save lives."
"I've spoken to Angelina Jolie several times in [the] last few days, and she has been so strong, so brave, so determined," he tweeted. "She wants to use her medical issues to nurture a nat'l conversation on health options. No self pity; she just wants to help."
Indeed, in her May 14 essay about the surgery, Jolie wrote that she hoped her experience would inspire or help others. "I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer," she explained of her decision to share her struggle.
"Life comes with many challenges," she concludes. "The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."