Cancer launched my business

Seven cancer survivors confronted life-threatening diseases and turned their experiences into successful small business ideas.

Jarem Frye, SymBiotechs USA

gallery cancer survivors jarem frye
Jarem Frye, 33, climbing El Captain in Yosemite: His motto -- "If it doesn't make history, it doesn't meet my standard for molding the future of prosthetics."

Jarem Frye was diagnosed with bone cancer in his left leg at age 14, a time when he had just started to enjoy mountain biking and playing basketball and tennis with his friends.

Over the next year and a half, Frye endured chemotherapy, numerous operations and eventually amputation of his leg above the knee.

"But even that young, I had a positive picture in my mind. I envisioned myself back on my bike and as active as before with my friends," he said.

After a difficult time adjusting to his prosthetic leg, Frye eventually got back to biking, even skiing. He took up "telemark skiing," a form of downhill skiing. But he couldn't do it with his prosthetic. So, at 18, Frye decided to make his own prosthetic knee designed for sports.

"I took it on as a challenge," said Frye. He worked on the design for several years and taught himself machining skills. When he was satisfied with his prototype, Frye founded SymBiotechs USA with $10,000 of his own in 2006.

Frye said his Utah-based company has already sold more than 400 of the "XT9 Prosthetic Knee." It enables amputees to snowboard, ski, surf -- even rock climb.

"When I lost my leg, I made the decision that I didn't want to be disabled," said Frye. "As long as I am able to do what everyone else is doing, then I am not disabled."

  @CNNMoney - Last updated October 02 2012 10:40 AM ET

Partner Offers

Most Popular