After beating cancer two different times, climbing the world’s tallest mountains seemed easy by comparison — even if he does it with just one lung.
Sean Swarner has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro a dozen times and these days, he is inspiring other cancer survivors by leading them up the trails to the summit.
He was twice diagnosed with cancer, at age 13 and again at 16. Swarner remembers sitting on the floor of his shower, 60 pounds overweight and losing his hair from cancer treatments. Doctors had given him just two weeks to live.
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It was his life’s lowest point, but also its turning point.
Swarner came up with a mantra: “The human condition can sustain itself for roughly three days without water, but no human alive can live for more than 30 seconds without hope.”
He’s never given up hope since that day.
Swarner has climbed the highest mountain on every continent and was the first cancer survivor to summit Mount Everest. The trek into the thin air was made doubly difficult because he had only one lung.
He chronicled his journey from the depths of despair on his shower floor to his symbolic triumph of hope atop Mount Everest in his autobiography, “Keep Climbing: How I Beat Cancer and Reached the top of the World.”
He created his own foundation, the Cancer Climber Association, to show survivors of the disease their continuing potential. Each year, it grants one cancer survivor the opportunity to climb the tallest mountain on the African continent with Swarner as guide.
“Taking people up Kilimanjaro, I see a transformation,” Swarner told TODAY. “It gives them the tools to say, ‘Hey, if I can conquer that mountain, I can do anything.’”
(WATCH the video at Your Erie) — Photo: news video
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