Eventually, he started to live his life, got back to work, got married and had children, but along the way he faced questions no one he knew could answer. When could he tell new friends and colleagues that he was a cancer survivor? Should he tell them at all or try to move on? How long would this be part of his life?
Ten years later, he started a website for young adults with cancer to find books, blogs and online forums so they could connect. He crunched the numbers and figured there were about 3 million people who were battling or had battled cancer as young adults. Where were they when he needed them?
“It’s one thing to say you’re not alone,” he said. “Here’s proof.”
The website, Stupid Cancer, grew to include a podcast with 3.4 million listeners, local chapters, and a national conference -- called "OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults" -- that is now in its seventh year.
“Every year, I go and it’s humbling to see people that have never seen or met another cancer survivor their own age,” said Scott Slater, 43, a two-time cancer survivor who has attended every conference.
One of the best parts for many attendees is the chance to just talk about sports or TV without first being asked how they’re feeling.
“People would say that to me three years after I was done,” Slater said, adding that it didn’t upset him, but there’s something nice about being able to put it aside. “You get to be normal for a weekend, which is something you don’t get to do a lot at home.”