ESPN’s Adam Rubin has put together an excellent feature on New York Mets farmhand Emmanuel Garcia, whose positive test for performance enhancing drugs ended up detecting a cancerous growth, and may have saved his life.

Garcia, from Montreal, was playing at Triple A Buffalo last year when a trainer informed him that he had tested positive for high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, normally a sign that an athlete was attempting to get the natural production of testosterone going again after finishing a steroid cycle.  The 25 year old middle infielder was shocked.  His only explanation was that somebody had been spiking his protein shake.

At least, that was until a clever medical coordinator with the Mets looked further into Garcia’s situation.  Mark Rogow discovered a previous condition that the ballplayer suffered from often led to testicular cancer which could have caused Garcia to test positive.  Doctors later discovered a tumor in his right testical confirming the theory.

He underwent surgery on June 23, 2010, in New York to remove his right testicle. Unable to walk comfortably the next two weeks, he recuperated in his native Montreal.

Garcia has since rejoined the Mets Minor League camp, and if his attitude is anything to go by, he should have no trouble picking up where he left off with the organization.

Actually, it was only 10 months of my life. I learned about it in June of last year, and two weeks later I’m having surgery. The thing about that: It was a little bump in my life. It was an obstacle. What it did to me, it really made me think life could be short. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I’m really grateful for life now. Even my first spring training game [Thursday], I played that game like it was my last one.