Littleton’s Sean Swarner has not let the lack of one functioning lung or two unrelated forms of cancer keep him down. Here, he stands on Mount Vinson, which boasts the highest summit in Antarctica. File photo.
BY PETER JONES
Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research will present an evening this month with local cancer survivor Sean Swarner, who will share his incredible story of reaching the top of Mount Everest—with one lung.
During his teens, Swarner, formerly of Littleton, was diagnosed with two near-fatal forms of cancer, an unusual combination of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the unrelated and rarer Askin’s bone cancer. Given three months to live, he survived the first cancer only to be diagnosed with Askin’s three years later with prognosis of only 14 days.
“There were some nights I went to bed, I didn’t even know if I was going to wake up the next morning,” Swarner told The Villager earlier this year. “Maybe it wasn’t necessarily resilience, but maybe it was stubbornness. Being a teenager, every kid’s stubborn. Hormones are kicking in.”
The subsequent chemotherapy and radiation treatments were so severe that one of Swarner’s lungs was destroyed. His grit and determination astounded not only the medical community, but nearly everyone who heard his story.
In addition to summiting Everest with one functioning lung, Swarner has completed the extremely difficult “7-Summit Tour,” having climbed the highest mountain peak on each of the seven continents.
“The body adapts incredibly well,” the 43-year-old adventurer explained. “I don’t want to say I’m a starfish where you can cut off a leg and it’ll grow back. But it definitely adapts. One of the greatest things about the human condition is the mind. For 90 percent of the humans out there, their mind gives up before their body does.”
Swarner will share his story of resilience and hope on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Anschutz Medical Campus, 13121 E. 17th Ave. in Aurora. The event will include hors d’oeuvres, drinks and silent and live auctions. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Wings of Hope is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. It was created in 2012 by founding Castle Pines Mayor Maureen Shul after losing her brother and mother to pancreatic cancer within months of one another.
“Sean’s inspiring message of hope will resonate with everyone, regardless of what challenges they are going through,” Shul said. “Not only will it be inspiring to hear Sean’s story, but every dollar raised from this event goes directly toward raising awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research at the CU Cancer Center.”
Earlier this year, Wings of Hope awarded three $50,000 grants to teams of physicians and researchers at the CU Cancer Center specifically for pancreatic cancer research
For more information, visit wingsofhopepcr.org or call 720-733-0491.
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