Brandon Bolden reveals 2018 cancer diagnosis, didn't think he would play in NFL again

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Brandon Bolden always finds a way to contribute for the New England Patriots. Despite rarely being used as the primary runner, Bolden is usually good for multiple positive plays per game. That trend continues in 2021.

Bolden's continued success in the NFL wasn't a guarantee. Bolden revealed Thursday he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, and thought he would never play in the NFL again. Bolden said he was diagnosed with epidermoid carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Bolden had surgery and temporarily lost function on the right side of his face.

Bolden — who is now cancer-free — realized his full facial recovery and was inspired to post images of his cancer treatment and journey on Instagram.

Bolden also spoke to Patriots media Thursday, where he revealed he was unsure he would be able to play in the NFL following the surgery.

"I did not think I was going to be able to play another down," Bolden said. "And here I am going on four years later after having surgery. I'm still working strong."

After undergoing surgery before the 2018 season, Bolden played in all 16 games with the Miami Dolphins. He returned to the Patriots in 2019, opted out of the 2020 season and remained with New England in 2021. He's played a significant role in 2021, playing 30 percent of the team's offensive snaps.

Thursday marked the first time Bolden spoke publicly about his diagnosis and recovery. Though he kept his treatment private, teammates were aware of his situation.

Since revealing his diagnosis Thursday, Bolden sent out messages of encouragement on Twitter on Friday.

Brandon Bolden with the Patriots.
Brandon Bolden is cancer-free after being diagnosed with a type of skin cancer in 2018. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)