Bodybuilder battles breast cancer

Community By Megan Jacobo, Reporter Thursday, November 19, 2020

     From competing against body builders to facing a more lethal adversary, Jeanette Martin is a fighter.

    While undergoing a routine mammogram in September 2019, Martin, 55, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in one breast.

     “I’m like the least likely candidate to get cancer,” said Martin, a vice president and employee wellness program manager at BankUnited’s Miami Lakes headquarters. “I’ve spent all my life avoiding sickness.”

     Martin, of Weston, decided to immediately take action to keep her life on track.

     She competed in a body building contest right after her diagnosis. Once back home, she underwent surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston.

     Although there was not a history of the disease in her family, Martin decided to remove both breasts, just in case.

     Then she underwent six months of chemotherapy.

     “I tolerated chemo really well,” said Martin. “My body was really conditioned and prepared to deal with that trauma.”

    Still, chemo took a toll on Martin.

    The first two days after treatments, she was very fatigued.

     “Holding my head up was hard at times,” Martin said.

     During her recovery, Martin continued to train with lighter workouts and underwent breast reconstructive surgery.

     Coach Libel Remedios has trained Martin for the past three years and said, “This lady is made out of stone. She has a tremendous heart and is very committed to continue and compete.”

     Martin finished chemotherapy in March.

She kept working during the months of chemotherapy at her “very supportive” job, and put her second job as a fitness instructor at Shula’s Athletic Club on pause.

    But she’s back at Shula’s, and in October she competed in Orlando, placing high in her division.

    That contest had special significance for her, as it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

     Martin was happy to be under the spotlights again.

     “I was right back where I was one year ago,” she said. 

     Martin is training for two competitions scheduled for 2021.  She has a final procedure to undergo before then: To remove her chemo port.

     Martin hopes her story will encourage women to get regular checkups.

     “People that are in fantastic shape think nothing is going to happen to them,” Martin said.

     “But it does happen more than people realize.”


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