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8-Time Olympic Medalist Nathan Adrian Discusses Cancer Battle, Goal Of Tokyo

By Todd Kortemeier | Feb. 26, 2019, 10:39 a.m. (ET)

Nathan Adrian smiles at Swimming Winter National Championships on Nov. 29, 2018 in Greensboro, N.C.Nathan Adrian posts a photo from the hospital on Jan. 29, 2019.


As he pursues a fourth Olympic Games in an effort to add to his eight Olympic medals, Nathan Adrian is not only also battling testicular cancer, but also working to raise awareness for people as blindsided by the disease as he was last month.

In an exclusive interview with NBC’s “TODAY,” Adrian discussed the shock of his initial diagnosis and how he has endured treatment while still training for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“One of the reasons why I decided to open up about this and be public about it was, one third of Americans are going to sit down with their doctor and (the doctor will) say, hey, we got your test results back, and they’re not what we hoped,” Adrian said. “And that’s hard. That’s not something that they prepare you for in school and you feel so alone and so isolated.”

With a public health degree from his college days at Cal, Adrian was maybe more prepared than most to get such a diagnosis. But many are not, and that is why he emphasized wanting to promote awareness and encourage people to get symptoms checked out as early as possible.

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Adrian was able to attack his case quickly. He opted for surgery right away, but that was only the beginning of the treatment process.

“You make more decisions, this isn’t black and white,” he said. “It is, hey, given what we know, this is the outcome based off of this treatment path, this treatment path (or) this treatment path. I had a lot of great doctors who were willing to sit down and spend a whole lot of time with me, explaining what each meant. And we tried to make the best informed decision that we could.”

Adrian was back in the gym training one week after surgery. Besides training for the Games, he is also enjoying married life. He and his wife Hallie were married in September. Cancer hopefully in the rear view, life is good for Adrian. Though he acknowledged that there are no guarantees, he responded instantly and enthusiastically when asked if he’d be in Tokyo.

“Heck yeah, I’m gonna try,” Adrian said. “… It’s not black and white, there’s still a chance (the cancer) could come back, very treatable if it does, we’re on close surveillance, but heck yeah.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Nathan Adrian