In the world of sports, sports legends tend to remain young in the minds and hearts of fans. Chris Evert is one such star — who many can still picture radiantly walking onto a 1970s tennis court.
However, reality struck Saturday night in two deadly words: ovarian cancer.
“Now I have some challenges ahead of me. But, I have comfort in knowing the chemotherapy is to ensure that cancer does not come back.”
The facts: She has stage 1C ovarian cancer.
Chris Evert ❤️🙏 pic.twitter.com/pWCsd4TaVl
— Stephane Celerier (@stephanecel) January 15, 2022
The ESPN report offered hope by saying her cancer was “in an early stage, discovered following a preventive hysterectomy. Cancer has not been detected elsewhere in her body.”
She is now starting chemotherapy.
“As someone who has always had control over my life, I have no idea how I’ll respond to chemotherapy,” Evert said. “I have to give in to something higher.”
Evert’s surgeon, Dr. Joel Cardenas, of the gynecology/oncology department at Cleveland Clinic Florida near Fort Lauderdale, said she could be ahead of this most determined enemy.
“Seventy to eighty percent of ovarian cancer is diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4,” Cardenas said. “Three months or so from now, she’d be Stage 3 or 4. If nothing is done, it reaches the abdomen.”
Ovarian cancer remains deadly because there are no symptoms. Evert’s annual screenings came up empty.
“I am so lucky,” Evert said.
Jeanne Evert Dubin, Evert’s younger sister, died in February 2020 of ovarian cancer at the age of 62.
“When I go into chemo, she is my inspiration,” Evert said. “I’ll be thinking of her. And she’ll get me through it.”
Genetic testing, spurred by her sister’s death, led Evert to have a hysterectomy in early December.
“We thought we were being proactive,” Evert said. “Since Jeanne had ovarian cancer, that was the priority. A breast decision is down the road.”
Everyone should read this and follow Chrissie’s advice, leadership, and example on how to screen and not delay care. 👏🏼🙏🏼. Chris Evert opens up about her stage 1C ovarian cancer diagnosis https://t.co/CkIglRETmA
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) January 15, 2022
But there was a hiccup.
“Dr. Cardenas called and said we need to go back in within the next 10 days for lymph nodes and other tissue samples,” Evert said, as she delved into a world of terms she recalled from her sister’s death.
Then she waited after her second operation.
— Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation (@srocf) May 8, 2020
“The longest three days of my life. Stage 1 or stage 3,” she said. “If I’m clear of cancer, I’m a different statistic. I was in a daze. I just couldn’t believe it. I had been working out, doing CrossFit, playing tennis. I didn’t feel anything different.”
The good news was that she has a 90 percent chance that the cancer, which appears not to have spread, will not return.
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) January 15, 2022
Evert said women need to know her story because it is theirs, too, and is what she called a “stark reality.”
“Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease. Any information is power,” she said, urging women to “[b]e your own advocate. Know your family’s history. Have total awareness of your body, follow your gut and be aware of changes. Don’t try to be a crusader and think this will pass.”
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