Six months after revealing that she had breast cancer, Martina Navratilova has some good news about her health. “I am cancer-free,” she tells PEOPLE, happily.
“Technically I was cancer free after the lumpectomy in March,” the tennis champ says. “But then I had radiation to make sure that it killed any cancer cells that were still hovering about.”
Navratilova, who was diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma, underwent six weeks of grueling radiation treatment. “Surgery was easy,” she says, “but the radiation was trickier. It was six weeks of really low energy. Radiation just sucks your energy like a vampire, day by day.”
After the last radiation treatment, Navratilova still felt lethargic. “Even when it was over, it took it a long time to get my energy back up,” she says. “But now I feel as good as new. I have an excellent prognosis, and I’m really doing well.”
The lifelong athlete has made few changes in her life. “I stopped drinking coffee,” she says. “It has already made me feel better. But other than that, I’ve always been very healthy.”
Navratilova, the health and fitness ambassador for AARP, spoke about her cancer at the organization’s national event, Orlando@50+, on Thursday afternoon. With her recovery, she says she has gained a new candor about the disease. “I really didn’t talk much about breast cancer before I had it,” she says. “Now, I’m approached by women and we share our stories. It’s encouraging to see that there’s life after cancer.”
And the poster child for “life after cancer” may be Navratilova herself. The 53-year-old has resumed playing tennis and hockey, and even wants to learn something new. “I want to start surfing,” she says. “I’ve tried, but the waves haven’t been right. I snowboard, so I’m sure I can learn to surf. It will happen someday. I’ve got the rest of my life to learn.”