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Upon learning she had breast cancer in February, world-renowned tennis champ Martina Navratilova, 53, admits that the news was too much for her to bear. "I cried," she tells People in a new interview. "It knocked me on my ass, really. I feel so in control of my life and my body, and then this comes, and it's completely out of my hands."
Navratilova found out her diagnosis when, as People reports, "a biopsy came back positive after a routine mammogram revealed a cluster in her left breast." Navratilova's OB/GYN, Dr. Mindy Nagle, told the magazine that her patient had "the best-case scenario you could imagine for detecting breast cancer." Her form of cancer, called DCIS (or ductal carcinoma in situ), was only located in milk ducts and had not spread to the breast tissue.
Dr. Shelley Hwang, a UC-San Francisco breast surgeon, echoed Dr. Nagle, telling People that that DCIS strikes roughly 70,000 women in the U.S. every year, but Navratilova (who has since had a lumpectomy and will start six weeks of radiation therapy next month) should be optimistic. "The prognosis of someone with DCIS is excellent. There's only a one-percent chance anyone with this diagnosis would die of breast cancer," said Hwang.
Nevertheless, Navratilova feels early detection nearly eluded her and realizes how lucky she is. "I went four years between mammograms," she admits. "I let it slide. Everyone gets busy, but don't make excuses. I stay in shape and eat right, and it happened to me. Another year and I could have been in big trouble."
A Wimbledon champion nine times over, Navritilova will continue to inspire as a health and fitness ambassador for AARP. She will be part of a live chat on their website tomorrow to talk to fans and well-wishers.
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