After the Patriots lost to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII, Brandon Bolden's football future was up in the air. He was a 28-year-old free agent looking to make his next move.
Before signing with Miami, however, Bolden got news that would put football on the back burner. He was diagnosed with epidermoid carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Bolden had surgery, temporarily lost the function on the right side of his face, and is now cancer-free, but up until Thursday, this diagnosis was not something he spoke about publicly.
On Instagram Thursday morning, Bolden shared a video with pictures from his time in the hospital.
"I was messing with my son and my little brother about this. I actually looked in the mirror and was like, 'I got my full face back,'" Bolden said to media on Thursday afternoon. "That's what made me go through the pictures and everything else, just to show I had cancer and I did not think I was going to be able to play another down and here I am going on four years later after having surgery. I'm still working strong."
With surgery in the offseason, Bolden did return to the football field for the Dolphins during the 2018-19 season. Even while his facial mobility recovered, he continued to play.
"It took a lot," Bolden said. "There was a lot of naysaying from doctors and everything else. [I'm] just here to prove people wrong and continue to grow and get stronger."
Beyond football, of course, a cancer diagnosis reframes everything. Bolden said his perspective shifted since his surgery.
"It changed my perspective about a lot. I thought I was doing everything to prevent stuff like that from happening and it happened," Bolden said. "I had surgery and that was kind of my reset. I was able to redo it and reprocess how I was doing everything in my life, and here we are, like I said going on four years of being cancer-free."
Bolden said his cancer diagnosis isn't something he typically talks about, but his teammates knew about it. After posting on Instagram, those teammates showed up to offer love and support, including Damien Harris, James White, Brandon King, Duron Harmon, Jabaal Sheard, Danny Shelton, and Stevan Ridley.