Tennis great Martina Navratilova still remembers the moment she was diagnosed at the age of 53 breast cancer.
The athlete had always been fit, had a balanced diet and lived a healthy lifestyle, but it had been four years since her last mammogram.
“I was so shocked that something was wrong with my body,” Navratilova, now 65, told TODAY.
“But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still get cancer. You definitely improve the odds by being healthy, but you don’t completely rule out the possibility.
Navratilova was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, which has been described as “the earliest form of breast cancer” or “stage 0 breast cancer.” DCIS is characterized by abnormal cells in the lining of a breast duct that have not spread to other tissues, but in some cases have the potential to become invasive National Cancer Institute noted.
According to this, it is responsible for 1 in 5 new breast cancers American Cancer Society. Most patients have no symptoms.
Navratilova not only spoke about her own experiences, but also processed them Ovarian cancer diagnosis of her friend and great tennis rival Chris Evert.
“Chris was such a brave warrior and went public for the same reason – she wanted to make sure women knew what they could do to prevent this,” Navratilova said.
The Miami-based tennis legend recently shared her story with TODAY. The interview was arranged by Hologic, a medical technology company that sells breast imaging equipment and sponsors the Women’s Tennis Association Tour.
How were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
In January 2010 I had one mammography. I thought it was two years between my mammograms, but it was four years. I had changed doctors and had not made an appointment for the annual check-up. I just turned it off. I was on the go the whole time, so it’s hard to keep track of things.
When I finally left, they called me back the next week and said, “We need to take a closer look, there might be something wrong.” I went to the better mammogram and then they called back and said, “We always like it not yet. You need to have a biopsy.”
So I went to do that. I remember lying upside down on a freezing cold table. The next day my doctor called me and said it was positive.
I cried for about 15 seconds and then said, OK, what do we do? What is the next step?
What do you remember when you were diagnosed?
The stress of a cancer diagnosis. That night I had hockey practice in Aspen, Colorado, and I wanted to play—I love hockey—but I was so tired. I’m like, what’s wrong with me? In the end, I stopped practicing because I was afraid of hurting either myself or someone else.
The next day I played tennis and had to rest every five minutes.
There was nothing wrong with my body back then – it was all emotional trauma that made me so tired. It was literally a shock to my system. It took about two weeks before I was physically normal again.
That’s when I realized how much Stress really affects our bodies without us knowing about it. I’ve always been pretty good at not worrying, but I Yes, really Don’t worry now, because it’s just not worth it – it’ll just piss you off.
what was your treatment
I had a wide excision and six weeks of radiation.
As a tennis player you are always looking for solutions. On the pitch, a match moves pretty quickly. So I jumped right into the solution and had a great team of friends who supported me.
What was the most difficult part of your treatment?
Physically, the lumpectomy was fine, but they also removed lymph nodes under my armpit, so I couldn’t raise my arm for a couple of weeks. My skin didn’t suffer too much from the radiation, but I did feel tired.
The hard part was more emotional than physical stress. You think you’re fine, but you have to take care of the radiation daily, where this poison burns the bad tissue, but also the good tissue. You feel like a strawberry being irradiated daily. I was glad when that was over.
How are you doing today?
I am cancer free and have never missed an annual exam. I now have less stress when I go to the mammogram. But the first four or five years after the initial diagnosis, it was really hard to wait for the results. But then it was like this massive relief. I flew up after they said everything was fine.
What would you like to tell women about regular checkups?
Far too many women die from breast cancer, and many of them would still be alive if doctors had caught it sooner. Don’t put it off because a lot can happen in a year.
Women aren’t afraid to know, we just don’t care about ourselves because we care about everyone else. When it comes down to it, you definitely need to put yourself first.
Choose a date on the calendar to remind you, e.g. B. Your birthday, wedding anniversary, April 15 – I don’t care. Just make an appointment in the calendar and don’t miss it, don’t reschedule it.
Have you made any lifestyle changes since your diagnosis?
No, because I was already quite healthy. I didn’t change my diet, although I did make more juice afterwards.
It’s more about not worrying about things that just don’t matter. My dad always said if it’s not about your health, it doesn’t give a shit. It’s so true because when I was diagnosed the whole world stopped for me. Everything else became irrelevant.
When the s–t really hits the fan, we start paying attention. So I’m just begging women to watch out before the shit hits the fan.
How did you stay positive and get through it?
It’s really important to surround yourself with people who give you good energy and not bad energy, and we know who they are.
In tennis we have to stay positive because if you stay negative you will never win a match. We train for it and this training is very practical.
This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.