When Robert Steiner was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at 20 years old, he spent countless hours watching snowboarding videos as he underwent chemotherapy. He had snowboarded for years, but he never craved it more than when he was stuck inside, tethered to an infusion.
Watching the videos took Steiner’s mind off cancer. Instead of worrying about his diagnosis and his future, he dreamed of being outside and being active, carving a path down a mountainside. The videos also gave him a goal: when he was done with treatment, he would do what brought him joy. “Snowboarding makes me happy,” he says. “I wished I had done more snowboarding before my diagnosis.” Steiner was treated at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) by Dr. Andrei Shustov, whom Steiner calls “the best doctor I ever had in my entire life.” Dr. Shustov’s confidence and charisma made Steiner’s experience more bearable. “You find yourself trusting him so much,” says Steiner. “That dude is awesome.”
Steiner, now 25, returned to SCCA last June for a check-up, at which time Dr. Shustov told him he was in complete remission. “If I can beat this,” Steiner thought, “I can do so many things.”
When Steiner was going through treatment, he had many days when he mused about what his life would be like post-chemo. What’s next, he’d wonder. He’s got his answer now: Powder and more powder.
Steiner made good on his commitment to chase his passion. He moved from Mercer Island to the Midwest, where he lives and works at a ski resort that has notched more than 300 inches of snow this season.
“With cancer, you realize what moments in life are important to you.” says Steiner. “Having cancer and beating cancer pushes you to do what you love.”