Jill Martin Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis

On June 26th at 3:30 p.m. a moment etched in my memory I found myself saying “My life will never be the same.” It was the fateful day when My breast cancer diagnosis came as dreadful news.

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis
Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

The thought of this day had always lingered in the back of my mind a fear that I couldn’t shake off However I never truly believed it would become my reality. Merely three weeks prior amid work calls I took an at-home saliva test provided by a genetic testing company Little did I know that this seemingly insignificant act would hold such profound consequences.

Breast cancer had claimed the life of my grandmother and my beautiful mother who stands healthy today underwent a double mastectomy in her late 40s after being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ commonly referred to as stage 0 breast cancer. The American Cancer Society warns that if left untreated DCIS can progress to invasive cancer.

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis
Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

Following her surgery, my mother tested negative for mutations in her BRCA genes a fact that led me to believe I didn’t need to undergo testing for them. I remained vigilant about regular screenings naively assuming that breast cancer primarily affected women. I soon discovered the error of my ways. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which I now understand are inherited from both parents play a crucial role as tumor suppressors in fighting cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that mutations in these genes significantly increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer, particularly breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Considering my family history my doctors at Schaffer Schonholz & Drossman in New York along with my trusted general practitioner Dr. Allison Spatz advised me “You should still undergo genetic testing to be certain.” This suggestion proved to be a lifeline. On June 20th I received a life-altering call from Dr. Susan Drossman informing me that I had tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. Remarkably my father too carried the BRCA2 mutation. Thanks to these positive test results which I am eternally grateful we pursued my father will undergo screening and remain vigilant regarding breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer conditions he is now at a higher risk for.

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis
Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

As a result of the test, I underwent a sonogram and an MRI which revealed the unthinkable I had breast cancer. I share my story now because I cannot undergo months of surgeries and subsequent physical and mental recovery without broadcasting a resounding message to everyone consult your doctors to determine the appropriateness of genetic testing. By the time I recuperate from my initial surgery, my hope is that many of you will have obtained your test results empowering you to make proactive decisions in consultation with your doctors, families and loved ones. This for me is the silver lining amidst this chaos providing the strength to carry on.

The pace at which everything unfolded was dizzying. It’s difficult to comprehend that merely a month ago I was joyfully celebrating my mother’s 75th birthday in Paris. Nonetheless, I have had time to process and now I am in a determined get-it-done mindset. Each person copes differently and for me I refuse to succumb to tears and hide under the covers. Instead, I am committed to doing everything in my power to overcome this challenge and protect my family.

Allow me to be unequivocal: I am shattered for countless reasons most notably witnessing my parents’ anguish as they observe my journey through this ordeal. Yet I place my unwavering trust in my father knowing that he and I will face this battle together. Devastated and empowered these contradictory emotions surge within me simultaneously.

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis
Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

My first surgery is scheduled for this week a double mastectomy performed by the skilled hands of Dr. Elisa Port the Mount Sinai Health System’s director of breast surgery. Subsequently, I will embark on reconstruction with the expertise of Dr. Mark Sultan, a specialist affiliated with Mount Sinai. The outcome of my procedure will determine my course of therapy. Additionally, my OB-GYN Dr. Karen Brodman has advised that in a few months, I must undergo the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes as part of the preventive surgery process. My doctors inform me that my chances of developing ovarian cancer are now 20% higher a percentage I refuse to accept.

I share my experience not to instill fear but to raise awareness encouraging individuals to consider genetic testing earlier to detect BRCA or other genetic mutations. If I had been aware of my BRCA positivity earlier I would have pursued more frequent screenings alternating between mammograms and MRI scans. Before this experience, I remained oblivious to the fact that MRIs can detect cancers that mammograms may miss. While my mammograms failed to detect the presence of breast cancer an MRI might have offered the opportunity for earlier detection. Early testing could have also allowed me to consider preventive surgery an option I had contemplated just days before receiving my cancer diagnosis.

Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis
Jill Martin reveals breast cancer diagnosis

For women who test positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal a greater than 50% chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70. A 2007 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute states that men who test positive for the BRCA2 mutation like my father face a 7 to 8% chance of developing breast cancer. It is crucial not to overlook these statistics. Furthermore having a BRCA mutation heightens the risk of various other cancers including ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer as highlighted by the National Cancer Institute.

Among the friends and family members I have confided in thus far many have asked “What can I do for you?” I stand strong ready to confront this battle head-on. However, there is one thing you can do for me.

Please ensure that you have a conversation with your doctors about the appropriateness of genetic testing. Early awareness and detection hold immense power potentially altering the trajectory of your life. Take charge of your health and together let us conquer the adversities we face.

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