“My sister’s death saved my life” – Chris Evert
Chris Evert opened up about her struggle with ovarian cancer with Mary Carillo, for the HBO series “Real Sports.”
When Chris Evert’s younger sister, Jeanne, passed away in 2020, she left behind clues that eventually allowed her big sister to survive ovarian cancer.
“My sister’s death saved my life,” an emotional Evert told Mary Carillo in an interview for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.
Jeanne, born three years prior to Chris, passed away at 62 after a two and a half year battle with ovarian cancer. Doctors would later discover that she carried a rare genetic mutation of the BRCA gene, handed down from one of her parents, which causes ovarian cancer in more than half the people that possess it.
The news was quickly relayed to family members, who were advised to be proactive about early detection. Evert, at the insistence of her doctors, had her reproductive organs removed; she would later discover that she too had the cancer.
For decades, fans had followed Evert’s every move on the tennis court. The American legend holds the record for the longest clay-court winning streak on clay – 125 matches – and elevated women’s tennis to new heights thanks to her iconic rivalry with Martina Navratilova, which played out across 16 seasons and 80 clashes.
But this year, fans have followed Evert’s struggle against a disease that will kill over 12,000 in the United States alone in 2022. She has been an inspiration.
After watching her sister go through a nightmare chemotherapy and a brutal passing, Evert was now a part of the same dark circle.
“I mean, that came out of the blue,” Evert told Real Sports of her initial stage 1 diagnosis. “It just came out of nowhere. I was feeling fine. No symptoms, no signs. And it was like deja vu, you know here we go again.”
Odds favor Evert, after early detection
Thanks to her sister and the work of geneticists, early detection has given Evert hope in the fight against ovarian cancer. Doctors say the American has a 90 percent chance to be cured, meaning that she would be free of the cancer and never have it return again.
Having recently completed a six-week chemotherapy regime Evert hopes to soon return to her duties, both at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton and as a commentator at the Grand Slams for ESPN. The18-time major champion was asked how her experience as a Hall of Fame tennis player had helped her during her struggle.
“In tennis you can control the situation a lot better and this type of thing you can’t control it,” she said. “Thousands and thousands of people have cancer, I’m just like everybody else.”