Eagle Scout’s Adversity Reminds Him to Keep ‘True North’ in Sight

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Surviving a battle with cancer is certainly cause for celebration, but it might also lead to reassessing one’s life and finding purpose, especially after two bouts with the deadly disease.

That’s the case with Dylan Slattery, who earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2009 with Troop 39 of Earlville, Iowa. After discovering a bleeding mole, Slattery saw a doctor and was diagnosed with melanoma. He then visited the Mayo Clinic medical center for surgery and successful treatment.

Life then took another unexpected turn. After a relationship breakup in college, he became depressed. Then, on a December night in 2013, Slattery and some friends were in a car when the driver lost control on an icy road. One of his friends was gravely injured. Slattery performed CPR; however, she died.

Despite battling depression and experiencing suicidal thoughts, Slattery graduated from college and pursued coaching baseball with his former coach.

Courtesy of Dylan Slattery

One year later, Slattery woke up with a swollen face — he had a tumor in his neck. He was diagnosed with stage four cancer with multiple tumors, “which the doctors at Mayo Clinic said were untreatable,” Slattery says.

Fortunately, he qualified for experimental immunotherapy drug treatment in a clinical trial at the University of Iowa. That grueling treatment was then followed by more treatments with FDA-approved drugs. In January 2017, Slattery was pronounced cancer-free.

“I now travel across the country speaking about leadership and culture through sharing my experiences overcoming adversity,” Slattery says. “Scouting does a great job at building a foundation of core values, but I lost track of ‘true north’ in college, and as we know when working with a compass, even being off course just a few degrees quickly adds up over a distance.”

During his podcasts and presentations, his message — especially to young people and athletes — is to always keep their core values in mind and “to always do the right thing because that’s how you build character,” Slattery says.

“Even in small moments, and even if nobody is watching, it’s important to battle negativity and not make poor decisions so you always stay on course and don’t lose your way,” Slattery says.

You can listen to Slattery’s podcasts via Apple Podcasts by searching “Stage Four 2 On Stage.”

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