PHOENIX - It was June 2016, right after Cody Miller, 24, qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was then he shared with the world what he had been dealing with for the past 10 years or so.

In a post on the site, Imgur he wrote: "...people stared and pointed at me."

The pictures he posted showed his noticeably sunken sternum -- the telltale symptom of a condition known as pectus excavatum --"pectus" for short.

From an operating theater at Mayo Clinic in north Phoenix, Dr. Dawn Jaroszewski pointed to a screen with two CT scans.

"If you look at the normal chest, you have this rounded curvature," she indicated, "and on the pectus patient, you can see how the front of the chest collapses down," she added.

Jaroszewski, a thoracic surgeon, says the deformity puts a lot stress on the lungs and the heart, so much so, she said, that Miller has a distinct disadvantage in the pool.

"Look at all the other swimmers, and he, like, can barely catch his breath," she said. "He's struggling to breathe."

Doctors told Miller his breathing was likely reduced by as much as 20 percent. ASU student Michael Mihuc had a similar experience as a young teenager.

"'Why am I running out of breathe so soon? Why is this happening to me?" Mihuc asked himself. "Why is my heart racing so much quicker than the others?"

Mihuc had a very severe case of pectus before he sought out the Pectus Program and Dr. Jairoszewski at Mayo. She and her team use a technique where a series of braces slowly open up the chest.

Dr. Jaroszewski said patients feel the results almost immediately after surgery.

"Even with the bars and the pain, they're like, 'Wow, I feel like I can breathe now,' and it's very cool," she said.

At the end the of the Games, Miller may have won the Gold, but these days Mihuc feels like he's a big winner, too.

"My quality of life is significantly better that it was three, four, five, ten years ago," Michuc said with a satisfied grin.

Miller inspired many, many people to not let pectus slow them down, and the same could be said for Mihuc. He's gone back to school to become a doctor to help patients who are also dealing with this tough condition.

For more information visit the Pectus Awareness Support Foundation.