It would have been a good story had Eric Shanteau merely made the United States Olympic swim team. It's an impressive feat just making the squad, even more so when you bounce back from missing the previous Olympic games by the tiniest of margins.
But the former Parkview standout's story went from good to amazing after he announced he had cancer following the Olympic Trials. That announcement put Shanteau, who swam the 200 breaststroke in Beijing, in the media spotlight as an advocate for people battling cancer.
It is a role Shanteau has embraced, and one in which he has excelled. Very articulate, he has handled the media attention well. And there's been plenty of it, including an appearance on NBC's "Today Show" on Thursday morning.
Shanteau, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer before swimming in the Olympic Trials, has taken every interview opportunity to advocate cancer research. He has backed up the words his father, Rick, who has lung cancer, told him - "You have cancer, it doesn't have you" - by successfully qualifying for the world's biggest swimming event and turning in the best time of his career despite not making the finals.
He had designs on earning a medal, but Shanteau, 23, knows he's been put in a situation that transcends athletics. He's already heard from Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France and the most famous advocate for cancer research, and hopes to follow in those steps, using his celebrity to raise awareness of the disease.
Shanteau's hopes for a medal ended this week, but his chance to inspire cancer patients and advocate cancer research is just beginning. And so is his battle against the disease.
The swimmer will stay in Beijing until Wednesday and said he doesn't expect to start medical procedures until the week of Aug. 25. Shanteau said he will attack cancer like he does a race, intent on beating the disease.
In the process, he hopes to inspire other cancer patients and help raise money to fight the disease. It isn't the way Shanteau envisioned his Olympic dream, but his fight - and the way he is handling it - has elevated him higher than any medal stand.