Pal of star’s tragic mum on gene timebomb A CLOSE friend of Angelina Jolie’s tragic family has opened her heart over the “terrible dynasty” of cancer that has devastated them.
Marie Miles fears that despite recently undergoing a double mastectomy, the Hollywood star will succumb to the aggressive cancer genes that have killed her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt.
In an exclusive interview, Marie speaks for the first time about her close bond with Angelina’s family.
She also shares some of her treasured photos and intimate letters sent by Angelina’s mother Marcheline Bertrand, Marie’s godmother, detailing her split from cheating husband Jon Voight and her daughter’s upbringing.
Mum-of-six Angelina was praised for having a double mastectomy earlier this year after being told she had an 87 per cent chance of contracting breast cancer and a 50 per cent chance of ovarian cancer.
The 38-year-old carries the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases the risk of developing cancer.
However, the actress is expected to wait until she is over 40, and past optimum child-bearing age, before having her ovaries removed.
Marcheline died of ovarian cancer in 2007 aged 56. The same illness also claimed the life of Angelina’s grandmother Lois Bertrand when she was 45 and that of her great-grandmother Virginia Gouwens, who died aged 53.
Debbie Martin — Marcheline’s sister and Angelina’s aunt — lost her life to breast cancer last month, aged 61.
Terrified Marie says Angelina should not delay when it comes to removing her ovaries.
She adds: “I hope she doesn’t wait until 40 — that scares me. I want her to be well, especially with those little ones. I hope she gets it done as soon as she can.
“That would be a terrible dynasty to follow, knowing that all the women in your family have died at an early age. Life is short enough.
“Angelina doesn’t want to be like her mother and not be able to enjoy her grandkids.”
She adds: “I wish Marcheline had done something, knowing her mother had the same ailment.”
Both Marie and Angelina were left heartbroken by the death of Marcheline’s younger sister Debbie last month.
Marie, 49, said: “For Angelina it must be like losing her mother all over again — she was close to her aunt.
“Maybe that is what spurred Angelina to look into herself, knowing Debbie was sick.”
Marie worries that Angelina’s biological daughters — Shiloh, seven, and four-year-old Vivienne — will inherit the deadly BRCA1 gene, too.
She says: “It’s a genetic thing. Angelina’s grandmother and mother had it, so there’s a good chance her daughters do too.”
Marie also has concerns that Angelina’s slim figure could be bad for her health and urges her to take care of herself.
She says: “I think she’s very thin, you can see her bones. Maybe that’s why she’s fasting, because you carry all the different toxins from things you eat.” Marie’s and Marcheline’s families were inseparable growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Marcheline dated Marie’s elder brother Wayne at High School and was adored by their mother Martha.
When Marcheline left for Hollywood as Jon Voight’s career took off, the two families kept in touch via letters and phone calls, as well as regular visits to their home in Beverly Hills.
Marie says: “She was just a great person, a really good godmother. I was real lucky to have her around.”
In one touching letter Marcheline sent to Marie’s mum in 1977, about Angie and her brother James Haven, now 40, she wrote: “Angie is two-and-a-half and she’s beautiful and funny and very, very cunning.
“Jamie is now four-and-a-half. He is a source of love in its purest form for me.
“They sleep back to back and hold each other while slow dancing. Jamie starts piano lessons in January and Angie is going to be an actress.
“Yesterday they told me what they were going to give me for Christmas.
“Jamie is building me a bed that is a sled so I can sleep on the snow when we go to the mountains and Angie is giving me flowers that will never die.
“They are so wonderful. Every night I thank God for allowing me to share my life with these two beautiful human beings.”
But despite the love she felt for her children, Marcheline — who looks hauntingly like her famous daughter in these exclusive family snaps — also reveals her pain at the breakdown of her marriage to Midnight Cowboy actor Voight, now 74.
She writes: “I almost feel like I died and was reborn again.
“Jon and I are still separated, but it’s for the best. I am much stronger now and the children and I are going to be just fine.”
Marie does not think Angelina will ever fully forgive her father, who she once cut out of her life but has tentatively reconciled with. She says: “He cheated and that’s the biggest wrong you can do.
“Whether it’s your father, your husband… you just don’t do that, especially to someone as sweet as Marcheline. She was an angel.”
Marie continues: “The fact that Angelina has reconciled with him — maybe she is trying to get over it.
“I don’t think they’re ever going to be close but maybe she accepts him because he has grandkids now.
“I’m sure he loved Angelina and James — I think he just lost his way and made some bad choices.”
Marie also has reservations about Angelina’s superstar fiancé Brad Pitt, 49, because he walked out on his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston.
She says: “I was upset when he jilted his wife, so I just hope he’s good to Angelina — I hope he doesn’t hurt her.”
Marie also says the big family the couple have now is “marvellous” — but doesn’t think it is complete yet.
She added: “I think she will have more children, that’s why she’s waiting to have her ovaries done.
“In the next few years I think she will pop out a few more. Or maybe she will adopt some more.”
Marie is also pleased that open-minded Angelina has enjoyed relationships with women.
She says: “It’s wonderful. I don’t think she’s ashamed of anything she’s done — and that takes confidence.”
But most of all, Marie is hugely proud of Angelina’s charity work and the awareness she is helping to raise about cancer.
She says: “The kindness is part of her genetics.
“I just think she was born with a good soul from her mother and is very giving and caring and generous.
“When I was younger you didn’t talk about going to the gynaecologist or mammograms.
“Now it’s out in the open more and that’s wonderful for young women.
“It takes a powerful woman in politics and Hollywood to make things happen.”