5 Steps Sean Swarner Took to Beat Cancer & Scale the Highest Peaks

sean swarner

“I want to be normal again. I want to live.” 

I was 13 when I first learned about the mind-body connection after being diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I wondered what I had done to deserve this, why me? Why do I only get 90-days to live at 13?

While I knew most things were out of my control, there was one thing that I could control… my thoughts!

The way I saw it, I had two options: fight for my life or give up and die.

I’d later be faced with the same dilemma as I worked to summit Mount Everest — among other feats. From my hospital bed on, I knew that I could achieve anything if I had hope and visualized myself succeeding.

5 Steps to Utilize Visualization to Transform Your Life

1. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

As soon as I shifted my way of thinking, I transformed my death sentence into another hurdle on my path. I was going to make it. I was going to live.

By changing my thoughts, I was redefining my reality. While my body may have been saying, “give up,” my mind said, “go on.” I could do this!

Altering my thoughts, changed my perspective, which created a different feeling/emotion inside of me, leading to a different action.

What I did wasn’t unique. All I did was activate my mind-body connection. And you can too.

The next time you find yourself telling yourself that you are not enough or that you cannot achieve your dreams, stop. Inhale: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Then transform your inner dialogue.

2. One Step at a Time

I spent about a year battling cancer (the first time). While receiving treatment, I gained 70 pounds and lost every strand of hair on my sean swarner swimmingbody. I lost myself for a while. I lost my life for a while. But I never lost sight of my goal — winning the 50m breaststroke.

Having goals keeps your mind on the future. Having goals keeps you alive just another day.

Since the 50m breaststroke was a lofty goal, I did what I could and set a smaller goal — running a 5k race. In between treatment, I ran around the neighborhood. I finished the 5k, dead last, but I finished it. And eventually, I not only swam the 50m breaststroke, but I won! In the process, my lungs screamed for air. Just one more step. Just one more stroke.

Later, when I summited Everest, I realized that it was is the same as finishing the 5k or 50m— one step at a time.

3. Relax

 I began my journey to Everest the same way I started everything in my life: I visualized myself on the top and successful before I even began.

Before even beginning my training, as I lay down to sleep, I relaxed my body and more importantly, my mind. I took a few deep breaths in my belly and relaxed every inch of my body — from the tips of my toes to the crown of my head. With each exhale, I released all my tension.

Before you can achieve your dreams, it’s important to go to a quiet space, relax, define what you want, see and believe yourself successful, and most importantly, get out of your own way.

4. Craft Your Dream Statement

After you relax, you’re ready to start writing. Begin with “I am.” Notice the various effects different language has on your body and mind. For instance, position language makes you feel empowered, i.e., “I am confident,” while negative language, i.e., “I am not weak,” makes you feel hopeless.

From there, write a statement in present tense with a clear start and end date as if you were to give yourself a homework assignment. If you can, use all your senses to give yourself a picture of how you feel when you are there.

“I’m standing at the North Pole with ice surrounding me and unfurling an enormous flag. I smell a strong odor of salt and taste the fresh, arctic air around me. I feel victorious.” 

5. Imagine Yourself Achieving Your Dream, Constantly

Visualizing yourself achieving your dream is not something you do once. In fact, it’s important to visualize yourself there, victorious, several times a day.

I used visualization to beat death twice by the age of 17. I used it to summit the highest peaks on every continent. I used it to reach the South Pole. I’m currently using it daily as I prepare for my quest to the North Pole.

Now, it’s your turn! Visualize yourself achieving your dreams or visualize yourself in good health! Live it, breathe it, believe it every day.

Share your path with me.