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Athletes Who Overcame Breast Cancer

As you probably know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. It is, however, often survivable, if identified early on. Every year, major sports leagues do their part to raise awareness. Players typically wear pink and there are many stories of family members who battle this disease. Rarely, do we hear stories of athletes who have overcome breast cancer themselves. GoodSport is proud to share their stories. Novlen Williams-Mills is a 34-year-old Jamaican sprinter who boasts a long and impressive Olympic record. She has medaled in the 4x400 relay in four Games, including recently in Rio. In 2012, Williams-Mills was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy after the Games and was back on the track a mere four months later. She continues run today and says she does it for “all the breast cancer survivors out there”. Oh by the way, Novlen is also a role model in the classroom. Despite a busy track schedule, she graduated from the University of Florida in 2004. Edna Campell is a retired WNBA player who was the 10th overall pick in the 1999 draft. Several years later, while playing for the Sacramento Monarchs, Campell was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the difficult treatment regimen, she continued to play. In 2003, Campbell received the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award for being the WNBA player who most “exemplifies the ideas of sportsmanship on the court – ethical behavior, fair play and integrity.” Campbell continues to lead by example today as the Director of Breathe and Stretch, a health restoration program for breast cancer survivors. Karen Newman is a seven-time All-American triathlete who was appropriately nicknamed “Speedy” as a child. She suffered for years battling the eating disorder bulimia when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 46. Instead of considering it a curse, Newman considers it a blessing. If fact she says her diagnosis “ignited a spark inside and helped me step out of the darkness into the light”. This mother of three never stopped training and even raced in the World Championships in the middle of chemotherapy treatment. Newman still competes and is an inspirational speaker who likes to remind people to Live Victorious, Loved and Free. Jen Hanks is a professional endurance mountain bike racer. Four years ago, at the age of 35 she noticed an abnormality during a self-exam. Shortly afterward, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her battle wasn’t an easy one. Hanks had to undergo four surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy. Once being declared cancer free, she continued to compete professionally. This year alone, Hanks has raced over 800 miles (in only about 80 hours!?) and won four times. She has a blog where fans and other survivors can follow her journey. Recently, Hanks shared her mantra which is “Never give up. Never give in. Be kind to myself. Winning lies in trying more than results. No excuses. Find peace and happiness in what I do every day.”