Novlene Williams-Mills, Karen Newman and Jen Hanks are linked not by their athletic accomplishments, but by another battle they fought and won: breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, according to Susan G. Komen. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it's found and treated early.
Thousands of women have remarkable cancer survivor stories. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Active spoke to three female athletes who fought the battle against breast cancer and are now spreading the word to help others women gain the knowledge they need to take the right steps to protect their health.
More: The 4 Stages of Breast Cancer
Novlene Williams-Mills is a Jamaican track and field athlete, who won a bronze in the 400 meters at the 2007 World Championships and is a three-time Olympic bronze medalist in the 4x400-meter relay.
In June 2012, before the Olympics, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy after the races. She returned to racing just four months after her final operation, and is dedicating her next race "for all the breast cancer survivors out there."
More: Fighting Breast Cancer: Survivor Stories
A seven-time All American triathlete, Karen Newman was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46. In an interview, Karen shared that it took two years for a diagnosis—all the while training with Team USA—after tests originally came back clear. Once diagnosed, she underwent chemotherapy, four surgeries and radiation. She even raced in the World Championships while in the middle of chemotherapy.
Karen is a breast cancer survivor and recently, she took gold in the 50 to 55 division at the 2013 National Senior Games presented by Humana. When she isn't racing or training she is a dietician and coach. She also works with cancer patients and is writing a book about her experience.
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