With the Australian Open set to start Monday, one of ESPN’s commentators will be facing a difficult opponent of their own that they too hope to overcome. In a deeply personal story co-written with friend and colleague Chris McKendry, tennis hall of famer Chris Evert revealed that she has stage one ovarian cancer.
The piece goes into detail about Evert’s journey in the month since her diagnosis. It was fortunate that her cancer was caught early because a reported 70-80% of ovarian cancer cases are detected in either stage three or four and by then, it would’ve spread and had a less than 50% survival rate. The fact that it was caught early came largely due to Chris’ sister Jeanne who died of ovarian cancer in February 2020.
At the time, Jeanne had tested negative for a variant of the BRCA1 gene, which if found increases the risk of getting illnesses like ovarian, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. As genetic testing evolved since Jeanne’s death, it was discovered that she actually had a pathogenic BRCA1 variant and it was recommended that family members get tested.
Chris was tested in October 2021 and it was discovered that she also had a pathogenic BRCA1 variant and scheduled a preventive hysterectomy in December. It wasn’t known until after the hysterectomy that Chris had a malignant tumor on her fallopian tube. After further tests on her lymph nodes, Chris found out that her cancer didn’t spread and after she undergoes six rounds of chemotherapy, she will have a greater than 90% chance that this type of cancer won’t come back.
Evert decided to reveal this in order to help people and make them more comfortable discussing cancer as well as to change the perception of gynecologic cancers in society. There’s still a perception that it only affects women but people of all genders could have a BRCA1 mutation that increases the risk of cancer so it’s a good idea to get tested.
In a statement posted on her Twitter account, Evert thanked McKendry for being with her as a friend as well as co-writing the piece and that she will appear from home during ESPN’s Australian Open coverage.
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) January 15, 2022
Here’s hoping the 18-time Grand Slam winner has another win in her as she looks to conquer this horrible opponent.