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Stronger Through Adversity

A good dose of inspiration will have you uplifted and motivated, carrying you through troubled times like these.

What do you do when you are used to living life on the edge and literally scaling the highest mountains, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced you to stay put at home? You react appropriately. That’s according to Sean Swarner, the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest. While some people were bustling over toilet paper, fighting over bleach in the frontlines of grocery stores, and worrying about the stock market, Swarner encouraged people to keep a level head. “The toilet paper flying off the shelves isn’t the virus’s fault. It’s how we react to it,” he says. “It’s like anything that makes us anxious. It’s how you react to it. Not the actual thing itself.”

A Slight Change

Coronavirus has affected many lives globally, shuttering workplaces, halting public gatherings, and changing how we view school and education. Working from home has been the norm for Swarner even before COVID-19, but what he misses most is connecting with people at his keynote presentations, conferences, speaking arrangements, and his many projects. Already retired, Swarner has adjusted, and is spending time exercising and biking. He firmly believes that we must deal with the situation and hopefully get through it safely. People should not resort to drinking, laziness, or other unproductive habits. Swarner has lived in Castle Rock, Colorado, since 2001 and enjoys a nice view of the mountains daily, but lately, he says that COVID-19 has him and others feeling like they’re in Las Vegas.

He says, “There are no clocks in Vegas. You don’t know what time it is, so you don’t know what day it is. Happy Hour starts anytime of the day.” It’s a perfect comparison to this time of coronavirus when people aren’t working, aren’t attending events, and aren’t socializing; they’re thrown out of whack. “Now, with coronavirus, people are not putting themselves into a routine, and because of that, they’re not getting those feel-good hormones that they’re used to.”

You can recharge and be inspired to control fear and anxiety during these dark days of coronavirus or any life challenge you face by watching Swarner’s short video…

To get back into the swing of things, Swarner likes to train, workout, and prepare for his upcoming adventure climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro, a volcano in Tanzania. He does all this with proper social distancing measures and CDC guidelines in place. Due to his battle with cancer, Swarner has only one functioning lung and takes coronavirus very seriously due to its respiratory implications. “People are saying a six-foot social distance, but I’m thinking to myself ‘no way,’ I need to stay a mile away from everybody.”

Swarner found other ways to connect with his fans through social media, “I’m challenging people every morning on Facebook and Twitter. And the challenge I’m putting out there is just for everybody to wake up. I’m helping people focus on what they’re thankful for. So, it’s basically filling in the blank.”

He adds, “When people are thinking about the future as opposed to focusing on what’s happening right now, I tell them to put their hand on their stomach and take a deep breath … relax, settle down, then start making intelligent, logical decisions.”

Sean’s Plans and Adjustments

Because of conference cancellations, Swarner is now working on his passion projects like StepUP After Cancer, a community of cancer survivors supporting each other to live fearless lives. The program is designed to educate people and help them understand that tragedy and trauma can help strengthen you and overcome obstacles. While surviving cancer is different from surviving COVID-19 or COVID-19-inflicted quarantine, there are some shared experiences. Overall, Swarner hopes that people are strengthened and are more connected after these experiences and have more empathy towards each other.

“It could potentially change us for the better if we let it,” he says. “If people understand that right now, we have an opportunity to reconnect even though we’re physically separated from one another. And I think what’s happening now is that we’re attempting to tap into our values, which includes family quality time. Even though it might be on a phone or something online, communication is helping people tap back into their values.”

From Crawling to Conquering

Swarner has ranked among the top eight most inspirational people in history. As a two-time terminal cancer survivor who has completed world championships, trekked to the North and South Poles and climbed to the seven highest summits in the world, he speaks from experience in overcoming insurmountable odds. No one expected much of the young man after his bouts with killer diseases left him physically and emotionally weak, but Swarner persisted and overcame his challenges. It is no wonder he has become an inspirational force for people around the world. Be sure to learn more about Swarner, and for more information about his work, visit stepupaftercancer.com.