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

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • 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...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • 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!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...

  • 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...

  • Aaron Henry Trunk Show & Personal Appearance

    2014.09.26
     @ Richards


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