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Cancer diagnosis not slowing down SIC guard Winslow Martin

  • SIC's Winslow Martin drives hard to the basket in a game with Indiana Elite Academy earlier this season at Deaton Gym. A Carbondale High grad, Martin is battling lymphoma.

    SIC's Winslow Martin drives hard to the basket in a game with Indiana Elite Academy earlier this season at Deaton Gym. A Carbondale High grad, Martin is battling lymphoma.
    Harrisburg Register file photo

By Jeffrey Drake
Contributing writer
updated: 2/21/2018 6:33 PM

HARRISBURG -- When watching a game or competition at any level, it's easy for those in the stands to be focused on the product on the floor and the outcome of the game. But sometimes, the battle between the teams isn't the biggest battle taking place. That is the case for SIC freshman guard Winslow Martin. The 19-year-old Carbondale native has been battling lymphoma for nearly two years.

Martin was heading into his senior year at Carbondale High School when one day at practice he noticed a bulge on his body. At first, he wasn't too concerned and thought the issue would simply go away. A trainer looked at Martin at practice, and at first, everyone thought it could be a hernia.

But over a two-month span from when he first noticed the issue until he was diagnosed, the then-17-year-old didn't know what to think.

"When they first told me and brought up the cancer word, I was shocked," said Martin. "I always pray a lot, so I was just praying to God so that he would give me answers. It has made me stronger and has made me learn to push every day and get through it."

Martin, who is still taking part in a clinical trial, says he sees his doctors every month in Carbondale and St. Louis and now continues to orally take chemotherapy drugs that he says can make him feel weak and drowsy.

Martin is averaging nearly 20 points per game and playing over 31 minutes per contest for head coach Mark Motsinger's club at SIC. And if his 47 points in a recent game against Greenville College are any indication, he isn't letting his diagnosis slow him down.

"One of the things I've noticed is that he pushes through it really well, and he doesn't complain," said Motsinger. "Sometimes at practice, he will step off and you'll know he's going somewhere to throw up because of the chemo. Now he does get a little grumpy at times, but I take a step back and think what would I be doing if I was in his shoes? But he just kind of goes along with it. If you didn't know, you would never know."

Martin credits his mother, Samantha Burnett, for being a strong support system for him, along with his four other siblings.

"She's pushed me through really everything and has been there since day one. She was the main one who stressed God and she's been a big help."

As he continues to battle his ailment, Martin says he wants to continue his basketball career at the next level like his late grandfather did after going to the National Tournament with Wright Junior College before playing overseas.

In the meantime, Martin will continue to finish up his freshman campaign for SIC and has a message for those dealing with the obstacles that life can throw a person's way.

"I'd tell somebody to stay with God and pray with every decision," said Martin. "Pray when things are going bad and when they're good. Even when you don't have answers, no matter what, you can get through it and keep fighting. There's going to be times when you feel like you're going to give up, but you can't let it beat you. That's been my whole motto, don't let it beat you."