Skip to content

Jamaican Williams-Mills ran at Olympics with breast cancer

Jul 1, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Olympics Day 8 - Athletics Getty Images

Jamaica’s top 400-meter runner revealed publicly that she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago in an interview with the Daily Mail.

Novlene Williams-Mills, a 2004 University of Florida graduate, was told she had cancer on June 25, 2012, according to the report.

“It feels like your own body has betrayed you, like I’ve been stabbed,” she told the Daily Mail. “I’m an athlete. I work out, I train. It can’t be possible.”

She won the Jamaican trials six days later and then finished fifth in the Olympic 400-meter final and bagged her third straight bronze medal in the 4×400-meter relay.

“Was it crazy? Yes,” she told the Daily Mail. “That’s everybody’s dream, to run at the Olympics. But I was thinking about my hurdles that I have to come back to fight. I was thinking: ‘Am I going to survive this?’

“My teammates in the relay did not know. But I was standing on the podium, and I didn’t know if I would ever run another race.”

Three days after the Games surgeons removed a small lump in her breast. She then had a double mastectomy, a further operation to cut out the remaining cancerous cells and reconstructive surgery. Her final operation was on January 18.

Williams-Mills compared her struggle to that of actress Angelina Jolie, who also underwent a preventive double mastectomy, an operation which removes all or part of breasts.

It reduced her future risk of cancer from 99 percent to maybe three percent, she told the Daily Mail.

Williams-Mills returned to competition four months after that final operation. She won her seventh Jamaican 400-meter title on June 23, booking her place at August’s world championships in Moscow. The 2007 world bronze medalist is still a medal threat. Her season’s best of 50.01 makes her the fifth-fastest woman this year.

“I’m still one of the top 400m runners in the world and I want to see what I can do,” she told the Daily Mail. “Moscow will be for all the breast cancer survivors out there. I want them to know it’s still possible.”

Conflicting reports on Yohan Blake’s worlds status

Latest Posts
  1. Alpine skiing women’s World Cup preview

    Oct 23, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    Expect to see more of Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn than last year, but neither appears a threat to the world’s best overall skier.

  2. Serbia protests Kosovo receiving IOC provisional recognition

    Oct 23, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT

    Serbia flag Getty Images

    Kosovo, which gained independence from Serbia in 2008, could field an Olympic delegation for the first time in 2016.

  3. More Rulon Gardner items to be auctioned

    Oct 23, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

    Rulon Gardner AP

    Gardner’s Olympic medals were sold last year.

  4. Joss Christensen skis remains of Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics sites (video)

    Oct 22, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT

    Joss Christensen

    Olympic ski slopestyle champion also needed rabies shots after dog bite.

  5. IOC provisionally recognizes Kosovo

    Oct 22, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

    Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE

    Kosovo has never competed at the Olympics as an independent nation.

  6. 2015 Tour de France route unveiled; favorites weigh in

    Oct 22, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    Tour de France

    Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador have mixed opinions.

  7. Russian Olympic bobsled champ Aleksander Zubkov retires

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    Alexander Zubkov Getty Images

    Zubkov, 40, had already said he wouldn’t compete this season.

  8. Jeneba Tarmoh mulls representing Sierra Leone at Rio 2016 Olympics

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Jeneba Tarmoh Getty Images

    Tarmoh was part of the infamous tie at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

  9. IOC to discuss recognizing Kosovo this week

    Oct 22, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT

    Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE

    Kosovo has yet to field a delegation at the Olympics.

  10. Watch trailers for ‘Touch the Wall’ about Missy Franklin

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

    Missy Franklin

    Film documenting Missy Franklin’s lead-up to London debuts next month.

  11. Miracle on Ice fantasy camp set for Lake Placid

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Miracle on Ice camp

    Eight members of 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team will conduct spring event.

  12. Daron Rahlves, four-time Olympian, in lightsuit skiing video

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

    Daron Rahlves

    Red Bull video shows skiers in LED lights at night in Alaska.

  13. Boxer attacks referee at European Youth Championships (video)

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

    Boxing gloves Getty Images

    Vido Loncar banned for life by Croatian boxing federation.

  14. Norway Olympic Committee president to step down

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:04 AM EDT

    Borre Rognlien Getty Images

    Borre Rognlien’s move unrelated to Oslo’s failed bid and threats, according to reports.

  15. Oscar Pistorius barred from Rio Paralympics

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:37 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius would not be allowed to run, even if he is out of jail and under correctional supervision.

  16. Oscar Pistorius sentenced to maximum 5 years in prison

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:18 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius could serve less than one year in prison.

  17. The jump for the ages: Mike Powell, Bob Beamon and a revered world record

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:52 PM EDT

    Mike Powell Getty Images

    A look back at the greatest head-to-head duel in track and field history.

  18. Bill Demong to run New York City Marathon

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

    Bill Demong Getty Images

    Olympic champion hasn’t retired from Nordic combined, either.