Imagine being at the start line of a 400-meter run in the Olympics, one of the many athletes proudly adorning their country’s flags on their outfits. Each one with the finish line in mind for their public ambition fueled by their personal drive, as the world watches.12
Out of the many heartbeats ready to race, one of them beats strong, with more than one fight in mind. She needed to prove to herself, that even if she felt like her body betrayed her, she would not let her will power falter, ever.
Although the Rio Olympics just came to an end, and despite the many proud athlete stories out there, Jamaica’s top 400-meter runner, Novlene Williams-Mills’ personal journey, shone among them. As she quietly competed with other athletes, after fighting her own battle with breast cancer hardly a few years ago.
On 25th June 2012, Novlene was told that she had breast cancer. She felt like that wasn’t possible because she was an athlete who works out and trains vigorously.
However, hardly a week later, she was back on the track practicing to participate in the 2012 London Olympics, finishing in fifth place at the 400-meter run finals and also bagging her third-consecutive bronze medal in the 4×400-meter relays.
She said, “It’s everybody’s dream, to run at the Olympics.” For Novlene, it was not just a competition but also a break from having to come back and fight the real fight with cancer.
Novlene admitted, that as she ran on those tracks, the thought that ran in her mind, as opposed to other athletes was: “Am I going to survive this?”
A few days after the London Games ended, she underwent surgery to get the lump removed from her breasts. As time passed, she continued to get a double mastectomy done to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in her breasts and get reconstructive surgery.
Almost four months after her final surgery, Novlene won her seventh 400-meter race for Jamaica, which gave her a place to compete in the Moscow championships. No matter what happened, this Jamaican bronze medalist still made her competitors shake in their shoes or watch in admiration, especially after setting a record of 50.01 seconds and becoming the fifth-fastest woman of the year.
As a shout-out for those ready to give up, Novlene said her participation in Moscow was for breast cancer patients and survivors. To show them that “It’s still possible and she wants to know what she more she can do.”
In the Rio Olympics, she was back to get her team another medal, and set her record straight. And Novlene did just that by bagging a silver medal for Jamaica in the women’s 4×400 meter relay.
Initially keeping it a secret, she ran and competed like it could be her very last race, each time. She recently went public only to inspire other breast cancer patients, as a “living testimony to know that God can use you to do anything”.
Even if you feel exhausted, wonder if you can continue, believe that you need to stay strong, because, if she gave up four years ago, she wouldn’t be there standing proudly on that podium to get that silver for Jamaica, herself and all those fighting their personal battles with cancer out there.
Don’t give up!
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