A young woman who is fighting for her own life after a terminal cancer diagnosis is using what’s left of her time on this planet to help other people who also have cancer.
Jill Bertolini, from Salem, Connecticut, has a unique story to tell. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2019, shortly after she returned home from her honeymoon with her husband.
“One week after we got back from our honeymoon, I was diagnosed with stage-zero breast cancer,” she recalls.
At that time, Jill considered herself remarkably lucky. The cancer had been caught early and was highly treatable. She opted for a double mastectomy to completely get rid of the cancer and decrease the odds that it would ever come back. And that, she thought, would be the end of the story.
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“I really considered myself to be so lucky,” she says. “I didn’t need radiation or therapy. They got all the cancer during that surgery.”
After surviving cancer, Jill decided to start a project that would help other people who had been through something similar. She began creating “Jill Baskets” to give to other women fighting breast cancer.
“I wanted to create gift baskets of all the items that really helped me through my recovery,” she says.
But Jill had no idea that her own battle wasn’t over yet. In the fall of 2020, she endured a much worse diagnosis: stage IV pancreatic cancer, which seemed to be unrelated to her breast cancer.
As far as the prognosis goes, things are looking rather grim. Jill isn’t giving up on her life yet, but she’s been told she only has a short time left to live.
“The stage 4 means it already metastasized to my liver and my lungs,” she says.
But she’s not giving up her positive attitude or her mission to help others for as long as she can. She’s now raising money at the Inaugural Jill Bertolini Symposium for her project so that it can continue for years to come.
The basket project will continue for as long as she and her husband are able to do it, and Jill is determined to continue helping other women to cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Learn more about Jill’s heartwrenching but beautiful story in the video below.
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