Jill Martin Announces Cancer Diagnosis, Swimmer Raises Money for Cancer Research and More

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As Jill Biden helps to heighten Medicare for cancer patients, 15-year old swimmer raises money for Swim Across America and Carlos Carrasco furthers his program, “Cookie’s Kids,” this is what is happening in the oncology space this week.

TODAY contributor, Jill Martin, announced a breast cancer diagnosis.

Jill Martin, one of TODAY’s contributors, revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago, telling TODAY this past Monday.

“June 26 at 3:30 p.m. I remember saying to myself, ‘My life is never going to be the same.’ It was the day I was told I had breast cancer,” Martin told TODAY.

Martin received genetic testing, as her mother and grandmother were both diagnosed with cancer, her grandmother passing away from breast cancer, and her mother having stage 0 breast cancer. Once receiving a sonogram and MRI, results identified that she had breast cancer.

Martin will receive a double mastectomy, following more surgeries to try and remove the cancer.

“My first surgery is this week. I will be having a double mastectomy with Dr. Elisa Port, chief of breast surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System, and I’ll begin reconstruction with Dr. Mark Sultan, a specialist with Mount Sinai. My treatment plan will also be informed by the results from my surgery,” Martin explained with TODAY.

Getting a genetic test was very impactful for Martin, as she explained, “I am talking about this not to scare you, but to raise awareness so that maybe you can be tested and identify a BRCA or other genetic mutation earlier. If I had known I was BRCA positive, I would have gotten screened more regularly, with an MRI alternating with my mammograms, she told TODAY.

California teenager raises money for cancer research by swimming around Manhattan.

Man swimming in blue water | Image credit: © vectorfusionart - © stock.adobe.com

Maya Merhige swam around Manhattan to raise money for cancer research.

Maya Merhige, a 15-year-old California resident, traveled to New York City to become a part of the 20 Bridges Swim to raise money for cancer research.

The nonprofit, Swim Across America, hosts annual swims that help to continue research for patients with cancer. Since they have been founded, over $100 million dollars have been raised.

The swim lasted nearly nine hours, according to ABC-7.

Merhige alone has participated a total of eight years and has raised more than $600,000 for the charity, according to People.

Merhige enjoys “the challenge,” and explained, "Whatever I'm doing in my swimming, or whatever pain I go through in my swims, it's really nothing compared to the struggle that cancer families go through, and that really pushes me to keep going forward,” she told “People.”

A medical scare had occurred to Merhige, as a tumor was found, causing her to undergo surgery within her stomach. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” she explained to the organization on an interview.

“It gave me even greater respect for what people with cancer experience and made me even more committed to this effort,” she told the organization.

Baseball pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, invited patients with pediatric cancer to tour Citi Field.

Carlos Carrasco, a pitcher for the New York Mets and cancer survivor, brought patients with pediatric cancer to Citi Field to raise awareness through his program “Cookie’s Kids” this past Wednesday.

This program means a lot to Carrasco, as he is a cancer survivor of chronic myelogenous leukemia since 2019. Following the program, he has also involved himself with community work in Cleveland to give back.

Liam Hendriks, a baseball pitcher for the White Sox, joined Carrasco to discuss his diagnosis with non-Hodgin’s lymphoma.

Although Carrasco and Hendriks don’t know each other well, they were able to keep up with each other’s cancer experience from afar, and coming together created a new friendship.

“It’s part of a club that no one really wants to be a part of, but also everyone wants to be a part of at the same time. Once I got diagnosed, one of my first things was honestly to Google celebrities who had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or athletes or anything like that. Seeing the amount of people that have gotten over it that you may not have heard about … it’s very interesting to read those guys’ stories of how they went about it,” Hendriks said, according to MLB.

Hendricks was happy to relate to someone like Carrasco. “It was great today, being able to talk to him about his stuff, what he went through and kind of relate the stories,” Hendriks said of Carrasco. “And then to hear some of the kids talk about their treatment plans and everything, it’s always really cool. It takes the edge off. … You’re trying to remove the stigma of going through treatment and not being able to talk about it,” Hendriks explained, according to MLB.

Jill Biden announced a new Medicare proposal to help patients with cancer pay for navigation services.

Medicare has been proposed to pay for patients with cancer’s navigation services to help endure a stronger recovery, with the help of first lady, Jill Biden.

This new proposal aims to “principal illness navigation services,” according to the Associated Press, to help patients decide on what treatments and medications will be most impactful based on their cancer.

Biden discussed her sister, Jan, who, year ago, had undergone six weeks of stem cell transplant therapy to treat her lymphoma diagnosis, and her experience was much more beneficial with an advocate by her side, according to the Associated Press.

Alongside this, Biden travels to cancer centers, for a part of a Biden administration initiative, called Cancer Moonshot, which focuses on limiting cancer deaths within cancer patients..

Cancer is a specifically impactful topic for Biden, as she lost her son, Beau to brain cancer eight years ago.

Biden hoped to help individuals who need it the most, saying, “This is a first step. And we hope that the private sector will do its part as well. We know that these services make an enormous difference in people’s lives,” according to a statement published by the Associated Press.

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