“It’s still hanging over your shoulder, no matter what,” the tennis champion recently said after being given the all-clear.
Martina Navratilova recently revealed that she was cancer-free, but the tennis legend’s battle with the disease took a physical and emotional toll.
Navratilova, 66, spoke with ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday, joined by her wife, Real Housewives of Miami actress Julia Lemigova, about her health since being diagnosed with throat and breast cancer at the end of last year.
“So I was diagnosed in early December and finally got the all-clear three weeks ago, so it really has been seven months of hell, emotionally and physically,” she explained.
“It’s still hanging over your shoulder, no matter what,” remarked the tennis champion after receiving the all-clear. Navratilova went on to say that while her disease was mainly treatable, the treatment, which included proton radiation therapy, was “horrific.”
“Chemotherapy, radiation — it beat me up,” she explained to the publication. “It was physically brutal. Whatever happens, it’s still hanging over your shoulder. It’s impossible to avoid it. I absolutely felt powerless, but at least I could control my mindset. But Julia was helpless in this situation. In the beginning, she was terrified. We were both terrified.”
But she had the support of Lemigova, who was filming RHOM at the time but “would come in and out” to be with her. “Of course, [friend and former tennis player] Chris Evert and I had gone through the same thing essentially and supported each other,” she added.
Navratilova also stated that she dropped almost 25 pounds during the event. “It’s been difficult, but I’m cancer-free now, so knock on wood.”
In the interview, Lemigova stated that the incident changed her perspective on life. “A tragedy like this teaches you a different perspective on life. Take life for what it is and enjoy every second of it. That’s what we’re doing with Martina. We appreciate and thank God every day, and we see life in a whole different light.”
Navratilova thanked “all the doctors, nurses, proton and radiation magicians, etc.” on Twitter last month after “a day full of tests at Sloan Kettering,” tweeted the nine-time Wimbledon champion.
“What a relief,” she tweeted, smiling and with the hashtags “#byebyecancer:) and yes, #f—cancer!!!”
Navratilova admitted that, although being told her disease was “very” treatable, she was “in a total panic for three days thinking I might not see next Christmas.”
In a March interview, Lemigova stated that she was by Navratilova’s side when she received the all-clear. “I was there for her through the good, bad, and ugly. So when she was diagnosed with cancer, I was there, and it’s no secret that I was there. Of course, I was with her when she received wonderful news. I had no choice. That was the day we celebrated.”
Former tennis rivals Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert discussed their friendship and recent cancer diagnoses in a Washington Post article earlier this month. “Martina was one of the very first people I told,” Evert recounted after learning of her ovarian cancer diagnosis. “It felt like I was coming home when I called her.”
Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago and confirmed cancer-free in 2010. Navratilova remarked on her initial diagnosis, “It really knocked me on my ass. I feel so in charge of my life and my body, and then something happens, and everything is out of my hands.”