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Nate Solder reveals he had cancer prior to '14 season

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Before Nate Solder helped the New England Patriots hoist another Lombardi Trophy, before he rumbled for a playoff touchdown, before he started a game or even partook in workouts in 2014, he took a physical.

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Luckily for Solder, that physical in April 2014 led to a diagnosis of testicular cancer, the offensive lineman revealed to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Doctors determined the cancer hadn't spread and were able to remove the testicle.

After a few weeks on the shelf, Solder went on to start every game en route to the Super Bowl victory.

"I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise," Solder said a year after his diagnosis. "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.'"

Solder, who turned 27 on April 12, missed just two weeks of offseason workouts after the surgery and said he's returned to Massachusetts General Hospital every three months for a checkup.

It was fortunate for Solder that his job requires a physical that could detect the cancer -- which mainly afflicts males between the ages of 20-34.

"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."

After keeping his diagnosis under wraps for a year, Solder now wants to spread awareness.

"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."

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