Cancer survivor reaches top of Mount Everest with just one working lung

Photo Credit: Sean Swarner's Photo
  • A cancer survivor successfully climbed the top of Mount Everest, managing to endure the trek with just one working lung
  • Sean Swarner was just 13 years old the first time he battled the disease
  • After he received the grave diagnosis, Swarner beat cancer and then decided he “wanted to do something big”

TIBET, China – A cancer survivor successfully climbed the top of Mount Everest, managing to endure the trek with just one working lung.

Huffington Post identified the climber in an article published on March 25 as Sean Swarner, the first cancer survivor to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

Swarner was just 13 years old by the first time he battled the disease and 16 years old during the second round.

“I remember sitting on the bottom of the shower floor when my friends were out having fun with their lives. I was losing my hair, 60 pounds overweight, crying my eyeballs out,” he recalled.

“It was something that no one should ever have to go through,” Swarner added.

The doctors initially gave the then young climber just two weeks to live.

“What kept me going is a quote I came up with and it’s, ‘The human body can live roughly 30 days without food. 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.’ So hope kept me going,” he said.

After he received the grave diagnosis, Swarner beat cancer and then decided he “wanted to do something big.”

An article by Nicole Walker for Womanista published on March 27 said that Swarner climbed the highest mountain in the world in order to give people something that he didn’t have before.

“I wanted to use Mt. Everest as a 29,000-ft. platform to scream hope,” the climber said.

The cancer survivor said that after beating the disease, he learned to appreciate life and every extra day that’s given, noting that he realized that there’s a difference between being alive and living.

“When you’re diagnosed and you’re only given 14 days to live, you really appreciate life,” Swaner said.

An article by Eun Kyung Kim for Today published on February 16 said that 41-year-old Swarner has climbed the highest mountain on every continent and now brings other cancer survivors with him on his conquests and trying to spread hope and inspiration through his foundation, the Cancer Climber Association.

“We reach out to other people touched by cancer, show them the possibility of the human body and spirit,” Swarner said.

Once every year, the foundation grants a cancer survivor the chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, with Swarner along to help every step of the way.

“Taking people up Kilimanjaro, I see a transformation. They make this trek, they get to the top, and they come back down, and I can see that they’re stronger and more confident,” he said.

“It gives them the tools to say, ‘Hey, if I can conquer that mountain, I can do anything,'” he added.

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