It’s short and simple, yet very complex. I got a text message on December 7th. “I can’t speak right now, but the pathology report came back today and it showed I had a malignant tumor in my fallopian tubes; more surgery next week, then chemotherapy…I…I…”
I read the text five times before sinking into it. My friend Chris has cancer. The disease killed her sister Jenny. Omg. “No! S—. I’m sorry. Call when you can/ready. I’m here for whatever you need.”
At first, she needed more information. She needs privacy to deal with it. She needs to recover from two surgeries. Then, she needs to tell her story. For better or worse, Chris always had her story. So, here we are.
Chris Evert has been diagnosed with stage 1C ovarian cancer. It is in its early stages and is discovered after a prophylactic hysterectomy. No cancer was found in other parts of her body. This week, she started the first of six rounds of chemotherapy.
Over time, she said, “I’ve lived a very fascinating life. Now I’m facing some challenges. But, I’m relieved to know that chemotherapy is there to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back.” But, of course, she was a little nervous.
“As someone who’s been in control of my life, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with chemotherapy,” Chrissy said. “I must yield to something higher.”
Dr. Joel Cardenas of the Division of Gynecology/Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic Florida near Fort Lauderdale is Chrissie’s surgeon.
“70-80% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at stage 3 or 4,” explains Cardenas. “In three months or so, it will be the third or fourth stage. If you don’t do anything, it will reach the abdomen.”
For most women, including Chrissie, there are no obvious symptoms. Early-stage ovarian cancer is nearly impossible to detect.
She reminded me that her annual exams, including a blood test for cancer antigen 125 protein, an ultrasound, and a contrast MRI, were all negative.
“I’m so lucky,” she said with the faith of someone who has witnessed the misfortune.
Chrissy’s sister, Jeanne Evert Dubin, also a former professional tennis player, passed away in February 2020. She was 62 years old. In October 2017, Chrissy realized that Jenny was out of breath and couldn’t keep up.
“Being true to Jenny’s personality, like so many other women, Jenny was busy taking care of other people,” Chrissy said.
Jenny promised to see the doctor as soon as they got back. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It is late and has spread. Chrissy described watching Jenny go through treatment as “devastating and traumatic”. She said the memory of Jenny’s power would inspire herself.
“She was my inspiration when I got into chemo,” Chrissy said. “I’ll miss her. She’ll get me through.”
Kris delivered a eulogy at Jenny’s funeral. Chrissie is stoic, calm, and even funny. But most importantly, when it comes to Jenny’s cancer, Chris is outspoken. This is a powerful delivery and message.
In her eulogy, she wrote: “The last 2 1/2 years of Jenny’s life have been brutal for no better word. She has dealt with many chemotherapy, experimental treatments, surgeries, procedures, portals, needles and Hidden pain. She fought to the end. For those of us on this journey with her, it was heartbreaking to watch.”