Cancer Early Detection A Winning Strategy for Olympic Athlete

Eric Shanteau | Published on April 5, 2011

Updated on March 29, 2018

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on June 19, 2008. Due to my very fortunate early detection, I was able to go on two weeks later to fulfill my dream of making the US Olympic Swim Team. The detection of my cancer started one night while I was reading in bed. Just before turning the light out I thought I noticed something that shouldn’t be there. I went on to perform a self exam, to the best that I knew how, and decided that I definitely felt something different on my right testicle. Over the course of the next few days I would see a general care physician, have several tests done, and ultimately end up at the urologist where I was diagnosed. Thankfully I was diagnosed at an early stage so I was able to compete at the Beijing Olympics.

It has been two and a half years since that day I sat in the doctor’s office and received the devastating news, and I can honestly say I am doing better than ever. When I returned to the water I had a new perspective on the sport and it helped raise my game to a whole new level.  A little over a year after my diagnosis, I broke my first American and World Records and became a World Champion. I recently moved training locations out to California. I am now working with the pro group at the University of Southern California under coach Dave Salo. I will competing at the World Championships in July in Shanghai. All of this is in preparation for a return to the Olympic Games next summer in London.

Since my diagnosis I have gotten involved in the fight against cancer through the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  I am a LIVESTRONG Envoy and a cancer awareness advocate within the swimming world.  Last year I hosted the inaugural Swim For Your Life Challenge if Atlanta, GA.  The event is an open water swimming race around Lake Lanier where participants can choose between a 1K and 5K swim.  The strength I have found working within the cancer community has been incredible.  I use it every day in my preparation for the next Olympic Games.

Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Eric Shanteau is an Olympic swimmer and testicular cancer survivor. At the 2009 World Championships in Rome, he is the only American to break 59 seconds in the 100 meter and 2 minutes 8 seconds in the 200 meter. Eric also swam the breaststroke leg of the 4 x 100 medley relay that not only won the gold medal but also shattered the World Record.


Thanks for the nice piece on Eric. As a testicular cancer survivor and founder of the Testicular Cancer Society I can tell you that one of the biggest challenges we have now is awareness and early detection. Treatments for testicular cancer are highly effective if caught early. As a matter of fact, many men can get by with just removal of the testicle. But, if it is caught later the treatments are much more involved such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.


Mike and Eric
You are absolutely correct early detection is the key to survival. My son Brad lost his battle with testicular germ cell cancer on June 20, 2010 at the age of 19 after an 18 month battle. We didn’t catch his in time it had already mast sized to his liver, lungs and brain by the time we realized there was something wrong. We founded the Brad Coleman Cancer Foundation to raise awareness to this type of cancer and to stress the importance of self exam and early detection. Thank you Eric for sharing your story.


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