Patriots left tackle Nate Solder revealed something very personal to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss on Tuesday. In April of 2014, Solder was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

The first thought that popped into my head was obviously hoping that he’s going to be ok. My second thought was, wait, April of 2014?

Solder wasn't just a standout LT in 2014. He also caught a TD from Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game.
Solder wasn’t just a standout LT in 2014. He also caught a TD from Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game.

I assumed this was something recent. Nope. Solder had surgery to remove one of his testicles last April, just three days after his diagnosis. After taking until June to fully work his way back, he started all 16 regular season games for the Pats and all three playoff games, while playing a big role in the team’s fourth Super Bowl victory.

Solder doesn’t want his story seen as him battling through cancer en route to a Super Bowl title — he admitted this to Reiss. He said he didn’t even see it that way himself since it was detected so early. Talk about being humble. However, Solder did feel that this was the right time to tell his story with April being National Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.

Here’s more of what Solder told ESPN:

“I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise,” said Solder, who turned 27 on April 12 and enters his fifth NFL season in 2015. “You Google something like that and it kind of scares you, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to freak out about this.’ Had I not had a routine physical, I probably wouldn’t have checked it, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just in my head, I’m going to be fine.'”

“I was completely healthy, I’m a professional athlete. It can happen to anybody,” he said. “Make sure you get yourself checked out, especially young men, because that’s who it’s really targeted toward.”

“The biggest thing is letting people know and giving them the information. And maybe giving people some courage that if they are in a situation like I was, maybe they would go and say something, and that could make a difference,” he said.

“It’s more common than people realize. A lot of people are either afraid to do it, or they don’t think it’s important enough to get it checked. It’s a simple check. Six months, a year, and then it starts spreading and then you start to feel symptoms and it’s a more serious situation. So that’s a big thing; you can save lives with early detection.”

So in honor of Solder, I’ll try to make this piece more about what he wants it to be — simply build awareness.

But it would be silly not to mention how selfless Solder has been through this process. Not making the story about himself, being there for his teammates during the ENTIRE season, and then revealing his story with the goal of helping others. Nate Solder deserves the spotlight on him, but since he doesn’t want it, just reward him with your respect.

Follow me on Twitter @julianedlow

Source: Mike Reiss of ESPN.com