Gabby Thomas booked herself a trip to Tokyo with her record-breaking performance in the women’s 200m race at the Olympic Trials, days after undergoing a cancer screening.
In the lead-up to the Olympic Trials, Thomas learned that doctors had discovered a tumor in her liver. The tumor was causing some major concerns for the Harvard graduate who is now getting her master’s degree in epidemiology.Read More
Some might have waited until after the trials, or even the Olympics, to try and figure out if the tumor was cancerous. Not Thomas though, who decided she would not only get the tumor looked at but also make a promise to God.
“I remember telling God, ‘If I am healthy, I am going to go out and win Trials. If this is not cancer, I will make this team,’ and that’s exactly what I did,” recalled Thomas after her victory.
She learned soon after that she was healthy, and then came some more good news.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 27, 2021
Thomas, who had never run the 200m in under 22 seconds before the Olympic trials, set personal bests in each of her races, culminating with her performance in the final of 21.61 seconds.
That time makes her the second-fastest woman in history behind the woman many consider to be one of the greatest to ever compete – Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Thomas struggled to accept the reality of the situation after her race, but once she had, she kept pushing upward.
“It definitely has changed how I view myself as a runner,” explained Thomas.
“I think the standard for myself is a lot higher. I am still in shock. I cannot believe I put up that time.”
She went on to say: “I just want more for myself now. Now, I’m going to have to start thinking about different goals, different visions. Because this was my dream — my dream was to make the Olympic team, not to win Olympic Trials, not even to break the meet record. Now that I’ve accomplished those, I’m going to set higher goals.”
21.61 seconds- best to ever do it behind FloJo.
AND IM AN OLYMPIAN!!!!!!
So so so grateful to everybody-especially my coach.
Sending love to everyone who has supported me up to this point and to my new supporters. ❤️🤞🏽 We’re just getting started. pic.twitter.com/mg4Q3GXoK8
— Gabby Thomas (@ItsGabrielleT) June 27, 2021
Thomas also had a message to those girls sitting at home with their grandmother, just like she was when she watched her first Olympic Trials.
“I remember when I was a little girl watching [Olympic Trials], it just felt so far out for me,” said Thomas.
“Do what you want. Dream big and take what is yours.”
She then added: “If I can do it, you can do it.”
World’s fastest Harvard graduate. World’s fastest epidemiologist. World’s fastest woman?
Cancer Screenings Are Critical
Thomas was just days away from the biggest moment of her life when she made the decision to put everything on hold and get screened. And she now says that it was only because she knew what was in her body that she was able to run the three best races of her life in a row.
Early detection allows for a more aggressive treatment plan that will yield a higher success rate or, as in Thomas’ case, quiets the constant fear of a possible cancer diagnosis. Either way, the sooner a person knows what is happening in their body the more time they have to make the decisions that are best for them at that time.
What to Expect at Screenings
When it comes to catching a cancer diagnosis early, cancer screenings are a critical step in the process. By attending screenings regularly, doctors can check for signs of cancer in the earliest stages. This leads to more treatment options and a higher likelihood of entering remission.
Cancer screening recommendations can vary depending on the type of cancer, and your risk factors, so it’s important to pay attention to guidelines.
For example, it’s recommended that people with average risk get colorectal cancer screenings starting at age 50 and continue until 75-years-old. With breast cancer, guidelines recommend women with average risk should have annual mammograms between the ages of 45 and 54. So, it’s extremely important to both pay attention to these guidelines but also push for screening if you feel that something is wrong.