These athletes had all the courage in the world to continue thriving in their sports  

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Sacramento Kings/Twitter

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. This year alone, the Philippines News Agency reported that three out of 100 Filipino women are likely to develop breast cancer. This particular statistic also applies to women involved in sports, especially since acquiring the disease is sadly unavoidable.

Over the past few years however, there have been a number of inspiring athletes who have overcome breast cancer. And it’s amazing to know that these women succeeded in their respective fields and showed the courage to keep going despite being diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Here are five inspiring athletes who survived breast cancer:


Novlene Williams-Mills

Mills is a Jamaican track-and-field Olympian who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. She went through a series of surgeries but managed to compete four months after her last operation. The 37-year-old athlete is a three-time Olympic bronze medalist in the 4×400 meter relay and secured a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay at the 2007 World Championships. 

“For some people, being diagnosed with breast cancer means their world ends. But you’re still that same person. A piece of you is taken away, but it doesn’t mean life is over,” said Williams-Mills.


Jen Hanks

Jen Hanks is a professional mountain biker who was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at the age of 35 in 2011. While undergoing a number of chemotherapy sessions and a mastectomy, Hanks started the blog Athlete Fights Cancer to talk more about her journey. She was then cleared to bike in 2015 but unfortunately was rediagnosed with the sickness this year. However, this did not stop Hanks from biking as she just recently competed in a Mountain Bike National (MBN) tournament in Colorado where she finished third.



Edna Campbell

Campbell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at a time when she was at the peak of her career with the Sacramento Monarchs. The retired shooting-guard continued to play the sport despite the tough setback and also became the founder and program director of Breathe and Stretch, a health restoration program for breast cancer survivors. No one wants to be diagnosed with cancer, but for me, it was an awakening. After so many years playing basketball both here and overseas, I had become very self-reliant and I didn’t realize how much I missed the daily contact with my family. My outlook has changed tremendously,” said Campbell.


Karen Newman

Newman was already a notable triathlete for Team USA before she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46. This, however, did not stop her from racing and representing her country as she took part in the World Championships while going through chemotherapy. The world-record breaking triathele wrote a book called “Just Three Words” about her experience with cancer which continues to serve as an inspiration for many. 

These five phenomenal women depict what true grit, tenacity, and courage is about. Not only did they continue to thrive in their fields, they also managed to turn a disastrous time of their lives into something that serves as an inspiration to the world. Now that’s what you call a true champion. 

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