The CancerClimber Association’s Summer Retreat for Cancer Survivors

    It’s 11 p.m. on Summit Day, which means we’re continuing our summit up Uhuru Peak. At 5,895 meters (roughly 19,341 feet), it’s the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro — and on the continent of Africa. The nights have been cold, but we know we’ll warm up quickly after our eight-hour trek to the top. The faster climbers will get to see the sunrise.…read more

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 body. 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 […]…read more

Redefining Impossible With Sean Swarner

Sean Swarner

Most people have not escaped death twice before the age of 17. Most people don’t climb to the edges of the earth — scaling the highest peaks. Most people are not two-time cancer survivor Sean Swarner — who’s headed to the North Pole to raise money for cancer institutions on April 1.   “You can go 30 days without food, you can live three days without water, but can’t go 30 seconds without hope, because without hope, we truly have nothing,” Sean Swarner says while looking back on his life. Sean has always had hope. Sean has always wanted to live another day. His childhood began the ordinary way – running, playing sports, hanging with friends, typical kid activities. Until one day, while shooting hoops, his knees buckled, he collapsed, and his mom rushed him to the hospital. “Do you know an oncologist?” the doctor asked, before revealing that at the age of 13, Sean had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and less than three months to live. Despite all odds, Sean made a full recovery. He was a normal kid again; he went back to all the things he used to do and, if you didn’t know, you would have never guessed he had ever been sick.  That was until, at the age of 16, he was diagnosed with Askin’s Sarcoma — a cancer combination that’s never been recorded again. This time, he was read his last rites and given 14 days to live, but once again, Sean proved the doctors wrong. Not only did Sean survive, he grew determined that no challenge would ever be too great, no peak too high. So he put his determination to the test. He was going to climb Mt. Everest with one functioning lung (he lost the other one to radiation) — and he was going to become the first cancer survivor to do so. In fact, not only was Sean going to climb to the highest peak on earth, he was going to take as many people with him as possible, as he packed a flag with of names of people who were touched by cancer with him. Sean stepped onto the ice, and he kept on moving. One step. Another step. One more. Until one day, Sean Swarner, the boy who was handed a death sentence twice, stood on top of the world. On the world’s highest point, Sean grabbed his flag, with the names of everyone touched by cancer, and dug it into the ice proving, once again, anything is possible when you have hope. For most people, Everest would have been enough. Sean isn’t most people. Since then, he’s kept climbing, topping the highest peaks in Africa, Europe, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and North America, thus completing the 7-Summits, in addition to conquering the South Pole and the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. “I’m not finished yet.” On April 1, Sean Swarner will land on the ice of the Arctic with his flag in hand. He’ll ski, one step at a time, until […]…read more