The Ultimate Match
- International Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert, 67, is fighting stage 1C ovarian cancer, the same type of cancer she lost her sister Jeanne to just two years ago.
- The athlete recently took to Twitter to update fans about her health as she undergoes chemotherapy, but mainly took it as an opportunity to advocate for others.
- Marshall Gold, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Johns Hopkins Medicine, talked to SurvivorNet about how women just diagnosed with ovarian cancer can prioritize their mental health.
The athlete recently took to Twitter to update fans about her health as she undergoes chemotherapy, but mainly took it as an opportunity to advocate for others.Read More
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) March 28, 2022
Evert went on to share that her white blood count was too low this past week, so she had to skip one treatment, which is common and one of the reasons nurses do bloodwork prior to each infusion to make sure your body is strong enough.
“I’m good to go again, I’m on my fourth,” she said. “Two more to go.”
Evert, who was diagnosed in December, sadly lost her sister, tennis pro Jeanne Evert, to the same disease. She was 62.
While she unfortunately doesn’t have her sister with her at her own treatment sessions cheering her on, Chris is grateful to have a familiar face by her side. Evert’s ex-husband, former Olympic skier Andy Mill, also 67, appeared in the video as well. “He’s been a great, loyal caregiver. I love him to death.”
Mill is the father of Evert’s three sons. The couple was married for 18 years and it’s great to see that they are close pals.
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Evert was also briefly married to Australian golfer Greg Norman, also now 67. “Basically, I married my affair.” she candidly told Elle magazine in 2011 about falling in love with her husband’s best friend. It lasted 15 months. Evert spoke out because of the private pain she was facing over the devastation of her marriages and crumbling personal life, wanting to help other women continue to strive for their happy ending. And now she continues her advocacy.
Getting diagnosed with cancer can certainly throw a wrench in life’s plans, especially having already suffered multiple blows, but the 18-time Grand Slam singles champ is determined to win this ultimate match, and keep raising awareness along the way.
Understanding Ovarian Cancer
After an ovarian cancer diagnosis, it’s easy for a patient to focus solely on treatment and put their mental health on the back burner. However, when facing cancer, it’s important that your emotional health is prioritized because it can directly influence treatment results.
It’s normal for women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer to feel a variety of emotions such as anger, sadness, depression and anxiety. Despite being common, it’s necessary that women work through these emotions and take steps in order to prioritize their mental health.
In Evert’s case, the fact that her sister recently died from the exact type of cancer certainly must compound the emotions she is feeling, but it’s a good thing that she still caught it on the earlier side, as most women don’t receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis until it has advanced.
“I think the ways that we can support these women are just to honor really how horrible the diagnosis is and the uncertainty that lies ahead and to try to reframe what is most important to you,” Marshall Gold, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Johns Hopkins Medicine, tells SurvivorNet. “What do you continue to live for? What brings you joy to try to see a little silver lining in a horrible situation?”
One of the first steps in coping with an ovarian cancer diagnosis is acceptance. Of course, nurse practitioners like Gold make it their duty to help each patient whether they have accepted the diagnosis or not. However, Gold says each patient comes to accept the diagnosis at one point during their journey.
Gold also says one of the most helpful resources for women coming to terms with an ovarian cancer diagnosis is to embrace the support system around them, whether it includes loved ones or their physician. A support network is critical when it comes to coping with a cancer journey and helps with mental health. This group of people can be both a shoulder to cry on or simply a person to talk through emotions with.
“A woman with ovarian cancer, what’s going to optimize her care, I think is just being open [about] her emotional state,” says Gold. “I think most providers are willing to engage in those kinds of conversations…communicate openly with your provider about your emotional state so that you can get the help that you need.”