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Tennis great Martina Navratilova reveals her breast cancer diagnosis

April 7, 2010 | 12:01 pm

Martina Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with breast cancer -- and she thought she was going to keep that private. 

Why did the tennis superstar, whose prognosis is good, change her mind and go public Wednesday on "Good Morning America"?

The 53-year-old AARP health ambassador -- "I've been healthy all my life!" -- realized she had let her annual mammograms go by the wayside for four years.

Time to hit the small screen with a health ambassador-style reminder to other women not to "let it slide," as she had with her own scans.

"It was my personal 9/11 ... ," she said about hearing the news. "Physically, I couldn't think, I couldn't move, I was useless." The night of her diagnosis she had hockey practice, she said, and "the  emotions took so much strength out of me, I could barely skate." 

"The good news" with the bad news, she said, is that her early type of cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, is non-invasive, with only a small chance of coming back.

Navratilova believes she lucked out that her cancer had appeared only in the last year. If it had started ...

... say, three years ago, she said she might be looking at chemotherapy now, instead of the lumpectomy she had in March and six weeks of radiation in the near future.

New government recommendations, for which the Wimbledon and Grand Slam champ had little praise, encourage mammograms every two years in women older than 50, and at a person's discretion before that.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Martina Navratilova hit the court for a charity event at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., on March 12, 2010. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press.

At the Ministry, we worry, you know? Click here and scroll down to check up celebrities' health issues. We have lots of dish on pro athletes as well. 

Related health-section dispatches presented by the Ministry of Gossip:

Booster Shots: New evidence that annual mammograms may be overkill

CancerChick.com: Writer who chronicled her breast cancer fight dies at 45

Recommendations on cancer screening are under review

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