Tennis legend Chris Evert lost her sister Jeanne to ovarian cancer in 2020. Following her sister’s battle, genetic testing led Evert to get a preventive hysterectomy herself. This recent procedure led to a startling discovery.
In a tweet last week, the former world No. 1 tennis player and 18-time Grand Slam winner said, “I wanted to share my stage 1 ovarian cancer diagnosis and the story behind it as a way to help others. I feel very lucky that they caught it early and expect positive results from my chemo plan.”
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) January 15, 2022
In the tweet, she linked to an ESPN story she co-wrote with her friend Chris McKendry. The story explains that the cancer had not been found elsewhere in her body and Evert is set to begin six rounds of chemotherapy, which her doctors say will give her more than a 90% chance of remaining cancer-free.
The diagnosis was surprising to Evert, as, like most women impacted by this disease, she had exhibited no symptoms. She’d been working out as usual. Her recent annual exams, blood tests, ultrasounds, and MRI were all clear, as well. Her surgeon, Dr. Joel Cardenas from Cleveland Clinic Florida, says within a few months, it would have advanced to stage 3 or 4 and ultimately spread.
Unfortunately, that is what happened several years ago with Evert’s sister Jeanne Evert Dubin, who was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer that had already spread. After more than two years of treatment, she died in February 2020 at the age of 62.
Evert wrote the eulogy at Jeanne’s funeral, detailing her struggles.
She said, “The last 2.5 years in Jeanne’s life have been, for lack of a better word, brutal. She dealt with numerous chemos, experimental treatments, surgeries, procedures, portals, needles and insidious pain. She fought and fought ’til the bitter end. For those of us who were on this journey with her, it was heartbreaking to watch.”
After Jeanne’s death, the family learned that she had a harmful BRCA1 mutation, which Evert later discovered she had, as well. Opting for a preventative hysterectomy meant that the doctors caught Evert’s cancer much sooner than her sister’s had been caught.
Of her doctor’s appointments, Evert told ESPN, “I heard all the terms for two years with Jeanne. It was like déjà vu going back in time. Back to the space that was horrific.”
Now, as she goes into her chemo treatments, she says she will be thinking of her sister the whole time, and Jeanne’s memory will get her through it.
She also hopes their experiences will help others catch their own health issues before they advance too far.
She says, “Be 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.”
On Twitter, Evert thanked fans for understanding her need to prioritize her health and treatment plan, but she said she would also be appearing on ESPN’s coverage of the Australian Open from home.
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