Fairfield, Conn. (WTNH) -- He was told he had 14 days left to live, but now Sean Swarner is the first cancer survivor to climb Mt. Everest.
Imagine being in high school and being diagnosed with two rare forms of cancer and then being told that you only have 14 days to live. That's what happened to Sean Swarner, but instead of taking the news lying down, he stood up and fought back. And started climbing the highest peaks of the world.
"I think I had two choices. It was either to fight for my life or give up and die, and I just don't think I was ready to give up and die," he says.
Swarner started fighting for his life one step at a time and then, one mountain at a time.
"I went from basically the bottom of my life, from fighting for my life, to the top of the world, literally," he said.
On May 16, 2002 Swarner became the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest.
"I used it as a 29,000 foot platform to scream hope."
And he's been spreading hope to others fighting for their lives ever since.
"I've done the seven summits, which are the highest mountains on every continent, I've done the Hawaii Ironman, I'm doing th Boston Marathon on Monday," he said. "So I travel around and try to share my survivorship story with other people just to give them something I never had, which is hope."
He still sees the same doctor who told him he had 14 days to live every year for his annual check-up. He also sends the doctor photographs from every peak he scales, to remind them both that the impossible can, indeed, be possible.
"My phrase is 'keep climbing, never give up, always keep moving forward' and I wanted to prove to people that anything's possible," he said.
Swarner is speaking at Roger Ludlowe Middle School in Fairfield Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
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