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'Today' Contributor Jill Martin Encourages People to Get Genetic Testing After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Martin is using her platform to encourage others to get tested.

Today lifestyle contributor Jill Martin appeared on Today with Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on Monday (July 17) to share personal news and spread an important message about wellness. Martin — who appeared alongside Dr. Elisa Port — revealed that she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and will undergo a double mastectomy. 

Martin found out about her diagnosis in late June, but the way in which she found out is why she feels the urgent need to tell her story. She explained on the show and in a piece on that breast cancer runs in her family. Her grandmother passed away from the disease and her mother had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with a form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ. Due to this history, Martin says she was vigilant about getting mammograms, and her latest scan in January was clear.

Still, her doctors suggested she get genetic testing to rule out the BRCA gene, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women. She tested positive.

"I spit into this tube and I mailed it in and honestly I forgot about it, and three weeks later I got a call saying, 'You tested positive,'" she told People.

Martin's father also took the test and tested positive. The gene can cause an increase in breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer in men.


Receiving the positive result wasn't the end of Martin's journey, however. She then underwent a sonogram and MRI and learned that she does indeed have breast cancer. Martin will receive the bilateral mastectomy surgery. She's unsure if she will require chemotherapy and radiation, but so far, her prognosis looks good.

"I went in and I remember she said it's cancer and I remember saying, 'Is it treatable?' And she said, 'Yes, yes, you're going to be okay,'" Martin tells People. "I'm not telling you I don't break down and cry at some points, but I still felt—still feel lucky."

Martin will also undergo a preventive hysterectomy in the fall to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer. Overall, she says she wanted to tell her story in order to encourage others to be vigilant about their health. She is also encouraging others to ask their doctor if they require genetic testing, as it just may save lives.

"I am telling this story now because I couldn't go through months of operations, and start to recover both physically and mentally, without shouting from the rooftops telling everyone to check with their doctors to see if genetic testing is appropriate," she writes on "By the time I recover from my first surgery, I hope that many of you will know your results and can make proactive decisions with your doctors, families and loved ones. That is the silver lining to this mess for me. It is what is keeping me going and giving me strength."

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