For Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee the past seven months have been just that.

She was diagnosed in July 2017 with cancer in her neck, oesophagus and ribs.

She expected her treatment to be finished in October, giving her four months to prepare for PyeongChang with her doctor expected to give her a call in January to confirm she could compete.

Unfortunately, in December she got the call to tell her the tumour was pushing against her bone marrow in her neck it meant two further surgeries with her C6 neck vertebra needing to be replaced with a titanium frame. 

Her vertebra had started to collapse because of the radiation therapy. 

It didn't give much time for Mentel-Spee, the defending gold medalist from Sochi 2014, to prepare. 

“No it’s not easy to go through,” she told

“Then again my doctor brought it to me saying it’s a no-brainer for me.

"You have to have this surgery to enjoy your life.

"So obviously the main goal from the surgery was to get the tumour removed and not be paralysed,” Mentel-Spee said.

Her journey to becoming a winter Olympian was cut short while attempting to qualify for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Doctors discovered she had bone cancer in her right leg and amputated below the knee.

The 45-year-old won the Netherlands first gold medal of PyeongChang on Monday in the Women's Snowboard Cross SB-LL2 but Mentel-Spee didn't have any expectations heading into her race.

“I let go of my expectations for PyeongChang,” she said.

“I’m really happy that I am able to go and that I can compete there.

"For me it is more important to compete there than to win.

"And just being there at the event with all my friends and showcasing the sport, that is the most important thing for me,” Mentel-Spee said.

She won her second goal medal yesterday in the Women's Banked Slalom SB-LL2, once again beating fellow Dutch athlete Lisa Bunschoten.