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Great friends, a great sport help New England woman triumph

October 26, 2013 08:23 AM
Jill Setian (r) with longtime doubles partner and friend Jody Nash.

By Sarah Gulbrandsen, special to USTA.com

Jill Setian of  the USTA New England women’s 3.5 team from Black Rock Country Club in Hingham, Mass., is an inspiring woman. Her courage and tenacity helped her to beat breast cancer, but she’d be the first to admit that she’s had help in winning that battle.  

Her husband of 24 years, Brian, has been her rock. Her three sons have been by her side all the time, keeping her spirits up.

And because of tennis, Setian’s support group is even bigger, as Jody Nash, Setian’s doubles partner of 10 years, has been by her side the whole time. Whether it’s been providing meals, transportation, a good laugh or a shoulder to cry on, Nash has always been there for her doubles partner and friend.

When the two first met some 17 years ago, neither realized that they both had attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. That realization helped to bring them closer together and made their bond stronger. So did tennis.

"We bonded away from day-to-day lives to play a sport that we love with people that we love on our team,” said Nash.

Setian was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in the fall of 2011. She had a mastectomy, radiation five days a week and chemotherapy once every two weeks. It was a tough road, but in only seven months, she was back on the court with her second family—her team,  every member of which constantly encouraged her in her fight.

"I wasn't going to play, but the captain and coach asked me to,” Setian said. “I couldn’t say no. They brought me out of my shell.”

Tennis kept her positive throughout her ordeal. The sport kept her mind going on something other than her treatments. Her teammates helped her, and she, in turn, inspired them.  

"She (Setian) has touched so many people just by being her. She is very inspirational,” Nash said. “We are lucky to all be here together. We grew up playing tennis in high school and throughout our childhood. Now we are recognizing our dream as a team."

I love this game, and I love these women,” Setian said. “We hug each other before every match and say, ‘Let’s have fun.’ If I can beat cancer, I can win a tennis match. Tennis was and is my salvation from the cancer.

“I feel like I can keep cancer at bay—and I have for two years. Being positive and being around great people has definitely helped me to recover.”

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