Unbreakable

She has beaten invasive cancer, broken world records and overcome emotional and physical challenges. Karen Newman doesn’t just chase her dreams, she catches them



(page 2 of 3)

The Other Side of Darkness

Fit and lean in black running pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt, with a full head of thick, wavy hair cascading down her back, it’s hard to believe this is the same woman who appeared as part of a Today Show segment for its Breast Cancer Awareness Month in August of 2008. At the time, Karen—by then a five-time world triathlete competitor—was bald and weakened by chemo and radiation treatments she was receiving for her Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. She had first discovered a small lump in her left breast in 2004, but every mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy had come back clean. It wasn’t until she experienced swollen lymph glands and lost feeling in the fingers of her left hand, that she underwent an MRI. When she got the results of five separate biopsies—all positive—the prognosis was grim.

“I still didn’t believe them,” she says. “It had been three years of saying everything is fine to all of sudden it doesn’t look good?”

Karen had already qualified for the World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver, B.C., and she was determined to go. When none of her doctors would support her decision, she found a doctor who would. “It was the hardest race; it was freezing. I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes because of the chemo,” she says. As she entered the stadium, the coach handed her an American flag and she crossed the finish line with the world cheering her on. She finished next to last. “I was really racing for my children and anyone battling any disease,” she says.

A devout Christian and active member of her church, Karen’s faith was tested many times over the next three years. She endured four surgeries, including a mastectomy and a breast reconstruction gone awry. She developed lymphedema, as a result of her damaged lymph glands. To this day, her rib cage is permanently twisted as a result of the cording caused by the radiation treatments. There were days when she could barely force herself out of bed, much less into her running shoes. “One night I was so mad at God, I was so angry, ‘I can’t stand it anymore,’ I cried. I yelled at God. That was a transformative moment for me,” she says.

When Greenwich magazine first profiled Karen as part of its 2009 cover story, “The Ultimate Athletes,” about four local female triathletes, Karen had temporarily pulled back from the international racing scene and was focused on her recovery. She was named the DetermiNation Champion for the American Cancer Society, an experience that enabled her to put medals around cancer patients as they finished their chemo. She swam for the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy in the Swim Across America event. She modeled for the Breast Cancer Alliance just days after her mastectomy (“I still had drain tubes coming out of my arms,” she says). She was featured in the Faces of Light tour, shot by photographer Ben Larrabee. “It’s a big part of my life, trying to save others from what I went through,” Karen says. “The importance of getting second opinions, following your gut, pushing for answers. All the things I didn’t do.”

In 2011 Karen qualified for the Triathlon World Championship in Beijing, China, where she placed eleventh. The following year she placed third at the U.S. National Championships in Burlington, Vermont, once again qualifying for a World Championship event, this time in Auckland, New Zealand. She knew her chances of medaling were slim. But it had long been her dream to stand on a podium at the Worlds and she believed she owed it to herself and her family to try. “The stars aligned that day,” Karen recalls. She won the silver medal and was the top American in her division. “Every miracle that could happen to get me there got me there,” she says. “I was fifty-one years old and I had just set a new American world record.”

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...


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