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Health & Wellness

Olympic medalist and breast cancer survivor: 'If I gave up, I wouldn't be here'

Winning a medal at the Rio Olympics wasn’t the only triumph for Jamaican runner Novlene Williams-Mills. The athlete savored her return to the Games after a battle with breast cancer.

Williams-Mills was diagnosed just before the 2012 London Olympics, choosing to compete but undergoing a double mastectomy soon after.

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Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica reacts after taking the second place in the women's 4x400m relay final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“It’s indescribable to know that four years ago, I was running and all I could think about was: I’ve got cancer,” she said in an interview with NBC Olympics on Friday.

“Now I’m back just trying to help my team get another medal.”

Williams-Mills, 34, did just that, helping Jamaica win the silver in the women’s 4x400 relay on Saturday.

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The athlete, whose older sister died of ovarian cancer in 2010, initially kept silent about her diagnosis and surgeries, but went public to inspire other women, she told Spikes magazine. Williams-Mills started competing again in 2013, describing her body as so “exhausted” and slow that she questioned whether she could continue.

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Today, she’s at the top of her game, urging other breast cancer patients to stay strong.

“I’m living testimony to know that God can use you to do anything,” she said Friday. “Don’t give up, because if I gave up four years ago, I wouldn’t be here.”

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