Alumnus turns personal pain into purpose
David Fuehrer’s life was put on pause at age 25 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2002.
The emotional bombshell came while Fuehrer, a competitive athlete who had just won the New York state natural bodybuilding title, was completing his undergraduate degree. “I was just accepted into the MBA program and was on a mission; not even cancer was going to stop me. I had surgery, completed my degree and moved to Michigan to work as a marketing analyst at Ducker Worldwide to begin a new life where no one knew my past.”
That new life shattered at age 30 during a routine visit when he was diagnosed with a different form of invasive testicular cancer—leading him to debilitating radiation and life-long hormone therapy.
Fuehrer said it was the darkest period of his life; he became more introverted as he tried to hide his cancer. Even declared cancer-free, he couldn’t forget the lingering effects of living with a life-threatening illness. But when he lost his father, Craig, to bladder cancer in 2012, something clicked. “I remembered my father’s motto: ‘The difficult we do immediately. The impossible just takes a little longer,’” Fuehrer said. “My family and my wife, Rene, have been my greatest support, and now it was my turn to help and empower other people living with cancer.”
He subsequently moved back to Rochester and founded Emerging Space, a company that helped people turn their ideas into successful products and services. Not surprisingly, his primary client became Matthew Zachary, CEO of Stupid Cancer, the largest U.S.-based charity that supports young adult cancer patients and survivors where Fuehrer also serves on the board.
The organization at that time was developing a new mobile platform called Instapeer, a free app which offers anonymous peer support for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. “It was something I wished I had; dealing with testicular cancer I was always too embarrassed to ask for help. That is the reason I’ve changed my career and my life—to dedicate myself to it and helping others who are in the impossible place I was.”
Fuehrer ’02, ’03 (professional and technical communication, MBA) is proud that five generations of his family have attended RIT dating back to 1904. One of his greatest joys last year as an adjunct professor at Saunders College of Business was to teach students to be true to themselves.
And now he is following his own advice. Fuehrer spends his work week in Manhattan with Zachary at Stupid Cancer, where they launched SC Research Ventures (SCRV) in July. “It’s the first healthcare company that focuses on identifying and addressing the unmet needs of the tens of millions of people who will survive cancer,” he explained.
“We will work directly with health care and pharmaceutical companies to tailor products, services and resources for patients based on data from the physical, social and psychological impact of their cancer diagnosis. We believe when the doctor says ‘you’re cured,’ it’s not the end of the story. We have the right to live with dignity and quality.”
April 18, 2019
Partnership brings business education to Rochester classrooms
A unique community collaboration among Saunders College of Business, Junior Achievement and local elementary schools introduces young minds to business, economics and free enterprise through discussions, hands-on activities and video lessons.
April 18, 2019
Imagine RIT visitors get to control RIT’s ‘Weather Machine’ in new two-story-high video game
Imagine RIT visitors will help keep the skies above RIT clear during the festival on April 27, in a new video game on display at the MAGIC Spell Studios building. Festivalgoers can play “Weather Defense: A Two Stories High Video Wall Game” on six large 4K displays, mounted two stories up the atrium wall of the new 52,000-square-foot MAGIC building.
April 17, 2019
Innovative suspension system for off-road vehicles takes top spot in spring Tiger Tank competition
A uniquely designed magnetic coil piston that will improve suspension systems in on- and off-road vehicles took first place in RIT’s semi-annual Tiger Tank entrepreneurship competition. Sponsored by RIT’s Saunders College of Business and hosted by RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Tiger Tank gives students the opportunity to pitch a business idea to a panel of judges with a chance to win cash prizes.
April 17, 2019
Why You Can No Longer Get Lost in the Crowd
Guest essay co-written by Evan Selinger, professor of philosophy, published in The New York Times.