Tennis star Chris Evert is among the most recent celebrities to discuss her diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. By taking this courageous step, she has helped make the ovarian cancer room bigger, contributing to awareness and discussion of the condition around the world, and helping others with ovarian cancer feel less alone.
After Evert’s sister Jeanne passed away from ovarian cancer, the tennis great decided to undergo genetic testing. Once she discovered that she had the same BRCA1 gene variant that her sister had, Evert underwent a preventive hysterectomy, with both of her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well.
The pathology report from that surgery revealed a stage 1 ovarian cancer diagnosis, making Evert one of the 20,000 people diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States every year. She later told ESPN.com that she then had six rounds of chemotherapy and was told that she was cancer-free, with a very low chance of cancer recurrence.
Evert has since dedicated her time to promoting ovarian cancer prevention, symptoms, and awareness. Watching her sister’s journey and understanding her family history led to Evert’s ability to get surgery and chemo, and the tennis player wants others to fight for themselves as well. “Be your own advocate, and be aware of your body and any signs or signals of something changing,” she told Cleveland Clinic, where she was treated.
MyOvarianCancerTeam members often discuss the importance of advocating for themselves. “Ask all the questions, be a strong advocate for yourself, and get genetic testing if you have daughters,” one member wrote. Another agreed, saying, “I think I have an awesome care team, but everything takes a long time — especially if you’re not a squeaky wheel. We must all advocate for ourselves, always.”
Part of Evert’s mission going forward is to encourage more discussion around ovarian cancer. “We need to have these conversations,” she noted. “Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease. Any information is power.”
Since MyOvarianCancerTeam launched a few years ago, the network has grown to become over 6,400 members strong — that’s a big room! Just as Chris Evert’s announcement amplifies the voice of those with ovarian cancer, each new member of MyOvarianCancerTeam makes the community stronger.
Without an ovarian cancer community, it can be easy to feel isolated, like you’re the only one struggling with this disease’s symptoms and treatments. Whether you have spoken directly with other members or not, by joining MyOvarianCancerTeam and reading shared experiences, you have become part of the community.
“We have a great resource here on this site,” one member wrote. “I have learned so many things from MyOvarianCancerTeam.”
On MyOvarianCancerTeam, the social network for people with ovarian cancer and their loved ones, more than 6,400 members ask and answer questions related to ovarian cancer symptoms and treatments. Talking to others who have been in your shoes may help you learn new ways to better manage your symptoms.
How do you advocate for yourself while living with ovarian cancer? Comment below, or start a conversation on your Activities page.