Title

Scott Capozza ’98, MS ’99

From life changing to life calling: Scott Capozza helped evolve cancer care after navigating his own survival.

Scott Capozza  works with a young breast cancer survivor in the physical therapy gym

Scott Capozza  ’98, MS ’99 works with a young breast cancer survivor who had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat her cancer.  (Photo by Christina Brown)

A cross country and track runner, Scott Capozza ’98, MS ’99, considered himself in the best shape of his life when he started his final year of IC’s physical therapy program. Over Labor Day weekend, he went cliff diving with friends. The next day, he noticed some unusual swelling but pushed his concerns aside. A couple of months later, the Friday before finals, his symptoms prompted a visit to the campus health center. They sent him to the hospital for tests, and that night Scott learned he had stage 2 cancer.   

Scott’s first thought? Finals. “I can’t deal with this right now. Can we deal with this over winter break?” The doctor’s answer was a decisive no. 

Scott’s cycle of surgery, hospitalizations, chemotherapy, and periodic recovery began. When his second surgery turned into a much longer hospital stay, he called the dean to explain. .  

“Stop apologizing,” the dean told him. “We’ll figure it out.” 

“There was never a time that I wanted to be in class more than when I was in a hospital bed with tubes [coming] in and out of me,” Scott recalled.  

After missing half a semester, catching up was a feat. “I was literally taking a test or doing a lab every week,” Scott said. But, with the help of IC faculty and other PT students, he was able to go through the graduation ceremony with the rest of his class, completing his final clinical rotation later that fall.   

“There was never a time that I wanted to be in class more than when I was in a hospital bed with tubes [coming] in and out of me."

For a few years after his diagnosis, Scott veered away from associating himself with the “cancer survivor” label.  

“I didn't want anything really to do with that identity,” he explained.  

But in 2006, Scott met the director of the new multidisciplinary cancer survivorship clinic at Yale Cancer Center, who was looking for a physical therapist to be part of the team. Scott realized that his experience as a cancer survivor and his skills as a physical therapist could make a real difference in people’s lives.    

“Because I've lived it, plus with all of the studying that I've done, I can educate my patients and help them with their recovery,” said Scott.  

Scott is now among the first board-certified specialists in his field, helping cancer patients and survivors remain at work, play with their kids, and avoid the most debilitating effects of neuropathy and fatigue, among other conditions. 

 “To be able to help give somebody a better quality of life following a cancer diagnosis is really amazing.”