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Wednesday, January 18, 2023 – American women’s Tennis grand slam icon Chris Evert has revealed that she is cancer free after being diagnosed with Stage 1 BRCA-related ovarian cancer.
Evert won 18 grand slam titles, including six US Open crowns and seven French Open trophies during her glittering career.
In a heartfelt article published on ESPN, Evert revealed that she was diagnosed with the same BRCA-1 variant of the disease which took the life of her sister Jeanne in February of 2020.
But Evert says that because of the ‘genetic road map my sister left behind,’ doctors were able to catch the disease early and treat it to the point where she says she’s now ‘cancer-free, and there’s a 90 percent chance that the ovarian cancer will never come back.’
Evert said that back when her sister was first diagnosed, doctors didn’t recommend her or her siblings get tested.
‘Jeanne wasn’t BRCA positive, but genetic testing revealed she had a BRCA-1 variant that was of “uncertain significance.”,’ Evert’s article read.
‘Then, last November, I got a call saying they had reclassified her BRCA variant — the significance was no longer uncertain, it was now very clearly pathogenic, and we should be tested.’
Evert said she took a simple blood test – confirming she had the same variant of the cancer that Jeanne had.
With the diagnosis in place, Evert scheduled a preventative hysterectomy. When the pathology report came back, doctors found malignant cells and a tumor in her left fallopian tube.
But the discovery allowed doctors to treat the disease, ‘early enough to do something about it.’
‘My doctor said if left undiscovered, in four months’ time I would probably have been Stage 3 like Jeanne, with very few options,’ Evert revealed.
‘Instead, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer, and I immediately began six rounds of chemotherapy.’
But the chemotherapy may not have only been to treat the ovarian cancer she was currently diagnosed with, but any potential future cancers as well.
‘BRCA mutations are associated with an up to 75 percent risk of developing breast cancer, and an increased risk of prostate and pancreatic cancer as well,’ Evert said.
That revelation – along with advice from her doctors led to Evert also undergoing a double mastectomy.
According to her, the pathology reports, ‘came back clean and clear, and my risk of developing breast cancer has been reduced by more than 90 percent.’
Evert said that she was revealing her story and her sister’s story in order to raise awareness and let others know the risks.
‘When it comes to deciding between surveillance or surgery, everyone’s choice is personal,’ Evert wrote.
‘The most important thing is not to leave things to chance. Of the 25 million women and men worldwide who have a BRCA mutation, only 10% know they are carriers.
‘When I talk to people about genetic testing, so many people say, “It’s too scary to know.” I’m here to tell you, it’s scarier not to.
‘My sister, like many people, was so busy taking care of everybody else, she ignored what her body was trying to tell her. My advice is: Trust your gut, know your family history, learn about genetic testing and be your own advocate.’
Evert went on to add, ‘As relieved as I will be to get to the other side of this, I will always have a heavy heart. I will never heal from losing Jeanne, and I will never take for granted the gift she gave me in the process.
‘My sister’s journey saved my life, and I hope by sharing mine, I just might save somebody else’s.’