Credit: Donna Hopkins

Donna Hopkins went into surgery thinking the pain caused by her fibroids would soon be over, and she could be able to progress as normal. Unfortunately, unexpected complications can arise without any moment’s notice. Due to a blood clot followed by other surgical complications, the doctors were forced to amputate her left leg—a devastating blow for the athlete.

Credit: Black Enterprise

But Ms. Hopkins did not let this obstacle stop her. She had already overcome breast cancer twice, and she isn’t slowing down any time soon. In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, Donna Hopkins relays the struggles of suddenly becoming an amputee, but also the strength she has gained from the experience and the inspiration behind her book, Getting to the Other Side of Victory.

A Woman Defying the Odds

In the exclusive Black Enterprise interview, Ms. Hopkins relays that, contrary to popular belief, there is a difference between happiness and joy, and that difference is “the thing that kept [her] going with every tragedy.” In her definition, happiness comes and goes, but life’s joy is always under the surface, and will arise when you need it most.

It is that joy that kept Ms. Hopkins determined and moving. Competing as an athlete has always been a massive part of Ms. Hopkins life. In losing a leg, it is easy for even the world’s most famous competitors to lose that drive and fall down a hole of self-pity. Donna Hopkins refused to quit.

Credit: Black Enterprise

“It is OK to cry about your circumstances, the devastation, destruction, and adversity, but don’t drown in your tears. Don’t allow them to be the anchor that keeps you from coming up again.”

Donna Hopkins adapted to her situation. She tried out for the Paralympics. She runs Hopkins Breast Cancer Inc, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to those battling the deadly disease in Washington, D.C. She works with prosthetic companies to test new products for the community effected by amputation. Despite not knowing how to swim, she even took up rowing as not only a new exercise routine, but an outlet for therapy.

The brave and inspiring woman proves that your circumstances do not define you. If you keep your head up, determined and hardworking, you will make your life everything you want it to be.