Olympic Swimmer Eric Shanteau: “I Love the Person I Am After Cancer”

Eric Shanteau of the US Swimming Olympic team poses during a photo session during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas,Texas.  JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

Eric Shanteau proved in 2008 that when it comes to mind over matter, mind can find a way to rule.

Just one week after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the 28-year-old Olympic swimmer went on to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials and nabbed a spot on the Beijing-bound USA team. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, he didn't end up with any medals, but he did manage to walk away with a personal best time.

Four years later, the Georgia native, who delayed treatment to compete with his teammates, is cancer free and has been for three and a half years.

"It changed my prospective on life; it changed me as a person," Shanteau tells Us Weekly about his diagnosis. "I embraced my life after that, learning more about myself. You live a little but more fully, and you learn to appreciate everything. It has been a very eye-opening experience and taught me a lot. I love the person I am after cancer."

Shanteau credits his life to his wife, fellow swimmer Jeri Moss, 27, whom he married in May 2011. Even though the couple had been together for just a year and a half when he was diagnosed, Moss is the one who sensed something was wrong. "She was the one who made me go to another doctor for another standpoint," he says.

But this time around, the 6-foot-2 breaststroke champ is going into the 2012 London Olympics healthy and strong — and he couldn't be more stoked about it.

"It's nice to just focus on just my swimming rather then my story of cancer. But at the same time it's part of what I do as an advocate now and so I'm always happy to tell the story to whoever wants to hear it," Shanteau, who makes it a point to work with the Livestrong foundation, tells Us.

Want more Olympics? Meet Team USA's families, go inside their homes (and gyms!), and more! Check out Us Weekly's Olympic collectors edition, "American Heroes," on newsstands now. Order at bn.com/usolympics.

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