Two months after publicly sharing a diagnosis of breast and throat cancer that left her in a “total panic,” tennis great Martina Navratilova revealed that she is “cancer-free.”
"I was in a total panic for three days thinking I may not see next Christmas," she told broadcaster Piers Morgan in a Talk TV interview scheduled to air Tuesday night. "The bucket list came into my mind of all the things I wanted to do. And this may sound really shallow, but I was like, 'Okay, which kick-ass car do I really want to drive if I live like a year?' "
Navratilova, 66, received the Stage 1 diagnosis late last year and told Morgan that they caused her and her wife, Julia Lemigova, to postpone plans to adopt a child. Now, "as far as they know, I'm cancer-free," she said, adding that she "should be good to go" after having radiation treatment.
Navratilova, who also had treatment for early-stage breast cancer in 2010, sought medical attention when she noticed a change in her neck during the WTA finals in Fort Worth in November.
"I noticed that my left lymph node was enlarged and I thought it was from a shingles vaccine I'd had a week before," she told Morgan. "But then a couple of weeks on, it didn't go down so I called the doctor."
Four days after a biopsy showed cancer, she said, she learned where it was located and received a treatment plan that became "the hardest thing I've ever done" because it included radiation treatment every day for three weeks and three rounds of weekly chemotherapy.
"That was the hard part because the first week was both chemo and radiation at the same time," she said. "When you start feeling lousy, you're not sure if it's from the chemo or the proton. I didn't really feel the proton until week three, but then you get a sore mouth and your throat starts closing.
"Everything's swollen and very uncomfortable, and the proton makes your saliva weird. You don't really taste things the right way. Chemo does the same thing to your throat, but then it makes it dry. So you're just hit from all ends, and I don't think the doctors do a very good job of telling you how the s--- is going to hit the fan."
Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and 41 more in doubles and mixed doubles over a long career, won 167 singles titles and 177 doubles titles overall. Her career was marked by a storied rivalry with Chris Evert, with whom she also shares a cancer link.
Evert announced in January that she is cancer-free after being diagnosed in December 2021 with Stage 1 ovarian cancer, the disease that took the life of her sister. In January 2022, Evert shared her diagnosis publicly, explaining that she hoped to raise awareness of the importance of knowing family history and taking advantage of medical tests that can flag susceptibility to ovarian and other cancers via markers such as a BRCA1 gene.