- Christine Marie Evert was the world’s No. 1 tennis player and has 18 grand slam singles titles to her name
- Christine, or ‘Chris’, as she goes by, was diagnosed with cancer in Dec. 2021, about two years after she lost her sister to cancer
- Chris shared her story so people know their options about how they can protect themselves
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Christine Marie Evert, (who goes by “Chris”), grew up to be one of the best tennis players to ever exist with a total of 18 grand slam titles to her name when she retired professionally following her Fed Cup victory in 1989. She went on to start a family with her now ex-husband, former alpine ski racer Andy Mill. They share three sons.
Although Chris is a generally private person, she has been open about her life with cancer following her 2021 diagnosis. She learned in Dec. 2021 that she had Stage 1C ovarian cancer, and announced her diagnosis in Jan. 2022 right before she embarked on six cycles of chemotherapy. Read on to learn about Chris Evert’s cancer diagnosis and how she is faring today.
Chris Evert Diagnosed With Stage 1C Ovarian Cancer
Chris’ doctors found a malignant tumor in her fallopian tube in Dec. 2021, and she began her chemo treatments the same week she revealed her diagnosis in Jan. 2022. She announced she had cancer via an interview with ESPN and a tweet linking to her story. The cancer was found during a preventive hysterectomy and was luckily caught at an early stage and had not been detected in other parts of her body. “I’ve lived a very charmed life. 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,” Chris told ESPN just before she began her treatment.
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) January 15, 2022
Despite the gracious approach to her uncertain future, Chris admitted she was struggling with the lack of power she had. “As someone who has always had control over my life, I have no idea how I’ll respond to chemotherapy,” she candidly noted. “I have to give in to something higher.”
Chris’ ovarian cancer diagnosis came less than two years after her younger sister, Jeanne Evert Dubin, died from the disease. She called watching her sister undergo chemo radiation a “devastating and traumatizing” time, but said the memory of her sister gave her the strength to move forward with her head high. “When I go into chemo, she is my inspiration,” Chris stated. “I’ll be thinking of her. And she’ll get me through it.”
What Is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer, as it sounds, is cancer that forms in the ovaries, per Mayo Clinic. It is not easily detected in females and is usually found once it has developed to a more advanced stage.”70-80% of ovarian cancer is diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4,” Dr. Joel Cardenas of the gynecology/oncology department at Cleveland Clinic Florida and Chris’ surgeon, told ESPN. “Three months or so from now, [Chris would] be Stage 3 or 4. If nothing is done, it reaches the abdomen.”
Ovarian cancer does not usually cause any symptoms at its early stage, but once it develops further, can cause weight loss, fatigue, discomfort in the pelvic area and lower back, changes in bowel and eating habits, and more, per Mayo Clinic. Chris never showed signs of cancer at her annual exams, including a test meant to measure the amount of cancer antigen 125 protein in her blood. Sadly, her sister Jeanne only discovered her cancer once she had bouts of fatigue.
How Long Has Chris Evert Been Sick?
Chris likely did not have cancer long before it was discovered in her ovaries in Dec. 2021, considering it was at an early stage. She began six rounds of chemotherapy in Jan. 2022, and in Jan. 2023, announced she was cancer free.
Chris said she decided to share her diagnosis to help others.
How Is Chris Evert Doing Today?
“I’m sharing my story because my journey isn’t over,” Chris continued. “I needed time to recover from chemo and rebuild my strength, but I still had one mountain left to climb. The risk for me was bigger than ovarian cancer alone. BRCA mutations are associated with an up to 75% risk of developing breast cancer, and an increased risk of prostate and pancreatic cancer as well.”
Chris revealed that in order to reduce her risk of breast cancer, she went under the knife once more. “On Dec. 1, 2022, a year to the day after my hysterectomy, I had a double mastectomy. I held my breath while I waited for my pathology results. Luckily, the report came back clean and clear, and my risk of developing breast cancer has been reduced by more than 90%,” she said. “Thanks to Dr. Elisa Port, my surgical oncologist, and Dr. Mark Sultan, my reconstructive surgeon at Mount Sinai, I’m well on the road to recovery.”
The tennis champion then urged people to get tested for mutations that may leave them at a higher risk for certain cancers because she believes it’s scarier to not know than to know. “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,” she shared. “There are doctors around the world working on better options for BRCA mutation carriers; in the meantime, own your journey and spread the word.”
“I have one more surgery left to complete reconstruction. They say this part is easy, but I can assure you, the last five years have not been,” Chris admitted. “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.”