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Olympic Countdown

Countdown to Tokyo: Nathan Adrian comeback from cancer

(KYMA, KECY/ NBC News) - Five-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian had just been married and was preparing to qualify for his fourth Olympic team when a cancer diagnosis threw his life into turmoil.

But when faced with the battle of his life, like any great swimmer, he dove right in.

Adrian was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2018, just after his marriage to his wife Hallie Adrian. While it was a tough break for Adrian, the extra year from the postponed 2020 games may have been a blessing in disguise.

After getting his left testicle removed and then needing another surgery a month later to remove lymph nodes, Adrian was not able to lift anything over 15 pounds and was held out of the pool for a while.

Just 7 months later, he was back in the pool and anchored the U.S. 4×100 meter freestyle relay team to a world record and victory at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea--setting up his comeback to the Olympics.

"When you get a cancer diagnosis, the hardest thing is that through my entire life, and it's definitely been taught through sport, through swimming, you have the ability to control some things," said Adrian. "Here you just have to kind of throw your hands up and you have no idea what's going on."

Luckily, Adrian has had his wife by his side throughout this journey and she has been really impressed by how he has handled it.

"It was really impressive to see how he handled the worst news of his life," said Hallie Adrian. "It really was a life or death situation and for him to be able to stay positive and pick me up just as much as I was picking him up, I think is a really special characteristic."

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Cole Johnson

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