Sean Swarner is a sportsman, a two-time cancer survivor, author and the founder of an inspirational non-profit association. This year, he is the #GetFit Ambassador for Nepal.
Sean’s story is incredibly poignant. Whilst other teenagers were struggling with hard exams, bad hair days and braces, Sean was fighting cancer and fighting for his life. He was diagnosed at 13 with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and underwent severe chemotherapy. His outlook wasn’t good. He went from being an active, happy child to having to deal with very serious health problems that threatened to take his dreams away from him.
As Sean’s body began to respond to the chemotherapy, new hope blossomed for the whole family. During the treatment, Sean pushed himself to be as normal as possible. He continued to compete in swimming, soccer/football, track/running tournaments and started recovering. Just a year after, disaster struck again. A completely unrelated form of cancer was detected in Sean’s system; a golfball-sized tumor in his lung. It was Askin’s Sarcoma, another deadly and brutal cancer that affects only 3 people in a million. At this point, it looked like there was no hope left.
Because he had been through cancer once before and was aware of what was involved in the treatment, Sean didn’t want to go through it again. “I was going to lose my hair, I was going to lose my friends, my life was essentially over until I get better”, he explained. No one in the world had ever been diagnosed with both types of cancer before; his trajectory was unprecedented. Sean started treatment again, and was put in a medically induced coma. The prognosis was the worst possible: he was told he had just 14 days to live, and was read his last rites.
But Sean wasn’t finished yet. After 15months of treatment, he was healthy enough to run and win the 800M race in his high school’s championship track meet. After beating the second disease and despite having only one functional lung, nothing could stop him. Cancer had changed him, and had made him into a strong, courageous fighter.
Sport was the passion that drove him to climb Everest. The highest mountain in the world, which is sometimes an unbearable trial for the most experienced climbers, was an almost impossible feat with diminished lung capacity. This was his true moment of triumph: even though the odds were stacked against him, he reached the top. He was the first cancer survivor to achieve this, andhas since topped the highest peaks in Africa, Europe, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and North America, thus completing the “7 summits”.
Sean went on to create his own non-profit organization for cancer patients and survivors with his brother, aimed at offering hope through inspiration by focusing on an active, healthy lifestyle. He is also the author of the book “Keep Climbing” about his experience and triumph against the disease.
After these unbelievably unfortunate events, Sean showed drive and passion that is unheard of. Instead of letting the obstacles bring him down, he made a point of overcoming all of them, becoming a reference for those fighting cancer. He also shocked the world by completing a number of marathons and even the World Championship Ironman Triathlon (3.9Km ocean swim, 180Km bike, 42Km run).
Sean Swarner has broken through every defined barrier, and changed the way the world views success. This year, Sean is GE Healthcare’s #GetFit Ambassador for the place that allowed him to overcome the biggest obstacle that anyone can face: climbing the highest mountain, overcoming the biggest obstacle, and feeling alive.