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Patriots’ Brandon Bolden reveals he battled cancer in 2018: ‘I didn’t think I was going to play another down in the NFL’

Brandon Bolden leads Patriots running backs with 37 receptions.Winslow Townson/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH — Brandon Bolden revealed in a Thursday social media post that he battled and beat cancer three years ago and later told reporters he has been free of the disease since 2018.

Bolden said he was diagnosed with a form of carcinoma and had it surgically removed, and though there was a time he felt his career might be over, he was “still cancer free at the beginning of this season and I feel fine and everything else.”

A nine-year veteran, Bolden opted out of the 2020 season before returning this season. He is the Patriots third-leading rusher and leads the club’s running backs with 37 receptions. He has 540 yards from scrimmage and is one of the club’s core special teamers.


Bolden was diagnosed following New England’s loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII in February of 2018.

“I lost the majority of function on the right side of my face and continued to play," he said. “It was just my face. It wasn’t the rest of my body, so I was OK with it."

Bolden signed with the Dolphins after being released at the end of training camp in 2018. He played one season in Miami before returning to New England.

He said there was no particular significance to the timing making the TikTok video, which he also posted on Instagram.

“It was just one of those moments where I was messing with my son and my little brother about this, I actually looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘I’ve got my full face back’ and that’s what made me go through the pictures and everything else," said Bolden.

“Just to show like I had cancer and I didn’t think I was going to play another down in the NFL and here I am three years, going on four years, after having the surgery and still working strong. It was kind of one of those inspirational type deals for me because that took a lot. It was a lot of naysay from doctors and everything else and then I am here to prove people wrong and grow and get stronger.”


One of the most popular players in the locker room, Bolden is beloved by teammates and staff for his team-first mentality, sense of humor, and musical stylings, among other qualities.

A few of his veteran teammates knew about what Bolden went through but most of the younger players were unaware.

“I don’t ever talk about it. I rarely talk about it,” he said. “It never stopped me from doing anything. It didn’t hinder me from anything. It was just one of those things me and my family dealt with and just kept pushing and kept everything as normal as possible.”

Kendrick Bourne a man in motion

Kendrick Bourne is one of the Patriots’ energy guys. The fifth-year veteran is a constant ball of motion during practice sessions, whether he’s busting his butt during receiver drills or busting a move in the stretching line, Bourne is hard to miss.

Bourne missed five days and all of New England’s practices last week after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and though he was able to pass the protocols in time to play against the Bills, missing the prep sessions didn’t sit well with the guy that can’t sit still.

“I’m doing well. Feeling all right. I didn’t have too many bad symptoms, nothing like that. I’m definitely all right. It just [stunk] missing practice," Bourne said Thursday. “I definitely want to practice. So that was the toughest part, just not being around my teammates. But health-wise, I’m fine. I’m all right."


Kendrick Bourne is three receptions away from registering 50 catches on the season, which would be a career high for the veteran.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Bourne, who is second on the club in receptions (47) and receiving yards (700), had two catches for 33 yards in the loss to Buffalo and kept up with the game plan by attending meetings virtually, but acknowledged the isolation took its toll emotionally.

“It was definitely a lot," he said. “Just not being able to practice is annoying in and of itself. That’s where I get my feel before I go out and perform, which is annoying."

Bourne will never be mistaken for a guy that just goes through the motions or lobbies for a day off. He wants to be on the field whenever possible.

“I’m kind of that guy — I don’t want to miss practice. There’s a lot of guys that are like that around the league, they take advantage of times missing practice. But [practice is] what I need."

Receivers coach Mick Lombardi credited Bourne with staying engaged despite not being in the facility.

“Kendrick is obviously a very focused person and he probably spent a lot of time in making sure he had the game plan ready to go," Lombardi said. “Really happy we had him … it was a credit to him for being prepared and ready to go for the game."


Because Bourne hadn’t missed any time since training camp started, he had a relatively seamless return to the lineup and played nearly half of the offensive snaps.

“It was just stressful, man," he said. “But to be able to play was a blessing and to still get out there and help my team try to win was awesome, but I’m definitely a guy that wants to practice so I can perform at a higher level than I did in that game."

Shaq Mason ill, misses practice

Right guard Shaq Mason missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, and reserve offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, joining linebackers Matthew Judon, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche and Brandon King, and quarterback Brian Hoyer … Defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. was removed from the virus list and was a full participant in practice … Wide receiver Nelson Agholor remains in concussion protocol … Rookie safety Joshuah Bledsoe was placed on injured reserve with a calf issue … Ten players were listed as limited: running backs Damien Harris (hamstring) and Bolden (knee); receivers Jakobi Meyers (thigh) and N’Keal Harry (hip); center David Andrews (shoulder); defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee); linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee); cornerback J.C. Jackson (elbow); safety Adrian Phillips (knee); and kicker Nick Folk (left knee).

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.