In light of Angelina Jolie‘s incredibly touching op-ed for the New York Times yesterday regarding her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy in light of a “faulty” gene that increases her risk for cancer, the Internet has been abuzz with rumors regarding — what else — her relationship! And whether or not this will increase Brad Pitt and Jolie’s likelihood of marriage in the near future. Because that is what matters here, really.

However, since we think it’s silly to speculate marriage rumors when there are many more interesting topics to discuss here, I think it’s more significant, when it comes to Pitt’s role in all of this, to talk about how supportive he is being. After all, the second most important lesson that people can take away from this — in my opinion, at least — is how to better treat and understand women who make these tough choices for the purposes of their health and safety. Considering how many men have taken to Twitter to voice their absolute anguish over a decision that may save a woman’s life, I think it’s time we also show that there are plenty of men who aren’t remarkable idiots and do actually care more about health than looks.

In a statement to the Standard, Pitt said:

“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic. I thank our medical team for their care and focus.

“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.”

It was a quick statement, but it’s perfect because it (A) acknowledges that this was brave, because it really was, and (B) it is a happy day, not a sad one. It is so, so important to mention that this was a positive decision rather than one with some form of tragedy attached simply because she lost her natural breasts. In reality, it was a wonderful thing that Jolie was able to do this, as it decreased her high risk of breast cancer and allowed the pair to live together for perhaps much longer than they otherwise might have, in the awful event that she had developed cancer.

Regarding her relationship, Angelina wrote in the piece for the NYT:

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.

As anybody who’s had a family member with cancer or another awful illness knows, being sick or having a frightening experience doesn’t just affect one individual — it impacts their whole family and everyone who loves them. It’s important for those who care about the patient to acknowledge the person’s pain, support her through it and be present, no matter what.

I’m glad Pitt made a public statement, though I think neither of them were remotely obligated to, as it is a public reminder of how we should be seeing this all. And while we’re certainly more congratulatory toward (and in sheer admiration of) Jolie, we’re also sending Brad Pitt numerous smiles, thumbs-ups and high-fives. We just hope all men (and women) will follow their leads and see preventative surgeries that can help save lives as trumping any type of judgment regarding physicality.

Photo: Getty Images