Growing up in rural Ohio, he became known to most people in his neighborhood as The Cancer Boy . . .
Twice he was diagnosed with the disease, twice he was told that he couldn’t hope to survive.
The first time, aged 13, the doctors gave him three months to live. On the second occasion, three years later, he was told he’d be dead inside a fortnight. The last rites were even administered at one stage. But Sean Swarner refused to die.
That the teenager twice beat the disease’s deadliest forms is considered a miracle in medical circles. But there’s more . . .
You see, Sean decided that, if he could beat such odds to conquer cancer, there was nothing that he couldn’t achieve and no challenge too great. He has dedicated his life to proving as much.
Quite a life it is turning out to be. Despite having just one functioning lung, Sean became the first cancer survivor to scale Mount Everest, reaching the summit in 2002 and planting there a flag that bore the names of 100 others who had also suffered at the hands of an unforgiving illness.
Having achieved such a remarkable feat – Everest’s peak is almost 30,000 feet above sea level, after all – Sean hasn’t stopped climbing.
He has conquered the highest mountains in Europe, Africa, Australia and Antarctica, and in North and South America too. But, most importantly, he has given hope to others, to those facing their own health problems, to those facing up to their own desperate diagnoses.
Inspiring others is Sean’s principle purpose. He is doing an extraordinary job.
‘For those [of us] who have survived cancer, it is our duty and obligation to help [other] cancer patients [and] to give them encouragement and hope,’ he explains. ‘The human body can survive for about 30 days without food; the human condition can sustain itself for about three days without water; but no human alive can survive for more than 30 seconds without hope, because without hope, we really have nothing.’
It must be an amazing thing to have the power to inspire others and to change people’s lives. Here at OM®, we do our bit and our reach is growing all the time. But a power like Sean’s, or Nick Vujicic’s, or Spencer West’s, is a gift indeed.
Such a gift comes with certain responsibilities and it’s the fact that Sean, Nick, Spencer and the like take such things so seriously that makes them so special. Sean has established his own non-profit organization, called the CancerClimber Association, that exists to motivate and inspire others and to use it’s founder’s remarkable tale to offer hope to those who otherwise might have none.
‘I’m fortunate to be alive,’ Sean noted in a recent blog post. ‘I decided life is too short and I wanted to give back. Mountains, and what I do physically, are a metaphor for hope and inspiration. What do you want to do to help others? To be amazing? To give back?’
It’s a good question and one that we’ll leave you to ponder. Before we go however, we’d just like to underline one or two important things . . .
That we are all human, that our condition is fragile and that our bodies are all subject to the same frailties. That we all need hope, that it’s our obligation to encourage and inspire and that there’s nothing that can’t be achieved. That our planet is a better place for people like Nick and Spencer, and for people like Sean Swarner . . .
People putting themselves out there for the greater good, for humanity and for hope. Such people inspire us and our OMs, and it’s a genuine pleasure to be able to help them spread their message. For the sake of everyone . . .