Mt. Everest Summiteer and Cancer Survivor
At the age of 29, international best-selling author and worldwide adventurer Alan Hobson set out to realize his greatest childhood dream. It took him 10 grueling self-guided and self-organized expeditions to high altitude, including three expeditions to Mt. Everest, each of which required $250,000 to $500,000 in fundraising, to ultimately realize his dream. When he finally stood on top of the world, the tears of elation froze to his face. He could actually see the curvature of the Earth as the horizon bent in his peripheral vision at 29,035 feet (8,852 m). “Half the dream is done,” the then 39-year-old radioed to base camp as his voice cracked with emotion. “If we’re persistent enough, we can do the dreams.”
Three years later after stepping down from the top of the world, he found himself at the bottom when, in August 2000, at 42, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer of the blood and given less than a year to live. Using the hard-won lessons he learned on Everest, he chose to ignore solid medical evidence that there was an 85 per cent chance he would die and thanks to raw courage, a strong spiritual faith, and the miracles of modern medicine, he not only survived but thrived. He is now one of less than a few dozen people in the world ever to regain an elite level of fitness after an adult blood stem cell transplant for acute leukemia and has been leukemia-free for over decade. In 2010, however, he was again diagnosed with cancer, this time with squamous cell carcinoma. After minor surgery, he was back cross-country skiing within a week. He is now considered to be medically cured and has no lasting significant side effects from either of his cancers or cancer treatments.
“My ‘Inner Everests’ have dwarfed the outer one,” he says quietly, “I see life now from a new perspective. Success isn’t about height. It’s about depth—the depth of our experiences and the depths to which we must sometimes reach to climb back from our setbacks in life.” The story of Hobson’s life is a breathtaking portrait in passion, persistence and peak performance spanning more than five decades. He is not only a worldwide adventurer and Mt. Everest summiteer, but now a cancer survivorship specialist and Climb Back from Cancer Coach. He has appeared on many national television talk shows, including Oprah, and positively affected the lives of thousands of cancer survivors and caregivers worldwide.
Hobson’s achievements go far beyond his inner and outer adventures. He is the international best-selling author of half a dozen books, a former nine-time All-American gymnast, marathon runner, hang glider pilot, white water kayaker, parachutist, journalist and winner of the prestigious “William Randolph Hearst Award for Excellence in News Writing”. He has scuba dived beneath the ice of frozen mountain lakes in the dead of the Canadian winter, visited sunken wrecks in Lake Geneva, and executed numerous night dives in the frigid and turbulent waters of the north Atlantic. He is a tough man for tough times—an expert at overcoming adversity, managing cataclysmic change and enduring hostile and life-threatening operating conditions.
Hobson’s first self-guided, self-organized and corporately sponsored expedition to Everest ended 3,000 feet short of the summit when a fierce storm ripped his team’s high camp right off the mountain. Undaunted, Hobson and his teammates were back on Everest three years later, this time with half the budget of the first trip, half the personnel, and no bottled oxygen. His team missed the summit by an excruciatingly disappointing two city blocks when their lead climber came down with high altitude sickness and they elected to rescue him rather than continue blindly going for the goal.
Finally, on his third expedition, Hobson changed his strategy completely, attacked the mountain from its southern, Nepalese side, outsourced the organizational and leadership aspects of the climb, and focused exclusively on training and fund-raising. The plan worked. His team put six expedition members on top—almost half its climbers—a feat achieved by only a select few of the many teams that have attempted to climb Everest in its long and storied climbing history. Little did he know then that an even greater challenge laid ahead—the Everest of illnesses.
Hobson’s next expedition is the one he’s currently on—to continue his miraculous climb back from cancer, and help as many other cancer patients, survivors and caregivers as possible do the same. Together with his former wife, Cecilia, they have written a landmark book, Climb Back from Cancer – Introducing The 10 Tools of Triumph for Survivors and Caregivers, Hobson’s sixth. It chronicles their uplifting true story and pinpoints what they consider are the 10 tools of triumph for survivors and caregivers—the key psychological skills necessary to survive life-threatening illness and thrive beyond it. Hobson has also helped spearhead the development of the ground-breaking Climb Back from Cancer Protocol of mild, individualized cardiovascular activity that is helping patients and survivors overcome the biggest single challenge they face—chronic fatigue.
He is also working on two new books, the working titles of which are 7 Steps to Cancer Survivorship – A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed and A Better Answer to Cancer – How to Make the Best of the Rest of Your Life (no matter what the prognosis). His mission is to inform, inspire and empower those touched by cancer so they can maximize their quality of life for the maximum time. Whenever possible, he wants to help patients, survivors and caregivers climb back to better lives. “We not only need to save lives,” Hobson says. “We need to return them.”
On stage, Hobson mesmerizes his speaking audiences with his riveting custom-built presentations. Using his exhaustive 5-step personal preparatory research process, he is able to make every presentation a one-of-a-kind experience that speaks directly to the specific needs of each group. This approach is unparalleled by any other presenter in the world and has earned him the distinctive title of “The Best Speaker in the World at Creating Custom-Built Presentations.”
The story of Alan Hobson’s life is a breathtaking portrait in passion, persistence and peak performance spanning four decades. He not only reached the top of Mt. Everest on his third expedition only to face the inner Everest of cancer, but he is also the international bestselling author of half a dozen books and has appeared on many national television talk shows, including Oprah. A former nine-time All-American gymnast, marathon runner, hang glider pilot, white water kayaker, cold water scuba diver, parachutist, journalist, and winner of the prestigious William Randolph Hearst Award for Excellence in News Writing, his latest passions include road and mountain biking in summer and extreme hiking in winter.
His next expedition is the one he is currently on – to continue his inspirational climb back from cancer and help as many others as possible do the same. He has co-authored Climb Back from Cancer – Introducing The 10 Tools of Triumph for Survivors and Caregivers, which is fast becoming a landmark in cancer recovery. It chronicles the uplifting true story of his journey to and from the edge of life and death. It also pinpoints The 10 Tools of Triumph™ for survivors and caregivers — the key psychological skills needed to survive life-threatening illness and thrive beyond it. Since being declared officially medically cured and returning to an elite level of fitness, he has co-founded The Climb Back from Cancer Foundation and co-creator of The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol™ of mild individualized cardiovascular activity. It is showing tremendous promise in potentially helping North America’s some 11 million cancer survivors overcome their biggest single challenge – chronic fatigue.
The protocol, which is based on his own climb back from cancer, has achieved results unprecedented in the history of cancer recovery research for survivors of bone marrow and blood cell transplants — those who usually suffer the most debilitating levels of chronic fatigue. The next step, which is already underway, is to continue to prove the protocol’s effectiveness in re-energizing survivors of other types of cancer. The result could positively affect the lives of an incalculable number of survivors worldwide.
Alan lives in his favorite playground, within the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains in Canmore, Alberta, north of Montana. They provide him with priceless solitude, sanctuary and rejuvenation. He was born to help others see a refreshing new perspective – one above the clouds of fear and doubt where hope, strength and courage emerge triumphantly from within each of us.
How to Rebuild Your Energy and Overcome Fatigue Using The Climb Back from Cancer™ Protocol* and The American College of Sports Medicine Physical Activity Guidelines
The type and intensity of each activity session (i.e. mild, moderate or vigorous) is tailored to each participant based on the results of a variety of evaluations conducted by qualified band trained exercise physiologists under the supervision of an oncologist or other qualified physician. Not all types of activities are suitable for all survivors — anyone who has or has had cancer from diagnosis through the rest of their lives, including those in treatment. Those with specific types of cancer, side effects of treatment and pre-existing conditions may not necessarily be able to safely engage in all types and intensities of physical activity. That is why it is extremely important that survivors be carefully evaluated by qualified professionals under proper medical supervision.
Step 1: A “Light” Version of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors1
10 to 30 minutes of mild to moderate2 cardiovascular activity every other day.
1The ACSM physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors are that they should avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis aim to ultimately exercise at least 150 minutes per week. This should include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week.
Step 2: The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol
The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol Session A: 30 minutes of mild3 cardiovascular activity Session B: (2 days later) 15 minutes of vigorous3 cardiovascular activity Session C: (2 days later) 20 minutes of moderate3 cardiovascular activity
Please see the 3 other protocol-related documents on this site for further details
- Introduction to the Protocol
- The Survivor Fatigue Study and The Climb Back from Cancer™ Protocol
- How to Rebuild Your Energy Using The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol and The American College of Sports Medicine Physical Activity Guidelines
*The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol is in the experimental stages and hence this document is for discussion purposes only. Until full clinical trials of the protocol are completed and the results are peer-reviewed, approved and published, use of The Climb Back from Cancer Protocol must not be undertaken without proper supervision by qualified medical personnel and exercise physiologists with cancer-specific training, knowledge and experience in a controlled and properly equipped environment.
If you wish to assume any and all risks in trying the protocol and/or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines, you must first consult a physician. If your physician approves your participation, you must then professionally engage an exercise physiologist(s) with cancer-specific training, knowledge and experience before becoming involved in any activity related to the protocol or the ACSM physical activity guidelines.
Thereafter, all activity sessions must be supervised by professional(s) in a proper setting. Failure to comply with any of these directives could result in loss or change of health, accident, injury, or death to the participant and/or those around them.
Therefore, all risks are those of the participant(s). Neither the author(s), Climb Back Inc., The Climb Back from Cancer Foundation, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the University of Calgary, any member of the Survivor Fatigue Study team, the ACSM or any other associated individual(s), institution(s), entity(s) or body(s) whatsoever, whether named or unnamed, assumes any liability whatsoever. Any and all risks are entirely those of the participant(s).
Fatigue Study & Protocol PDF Download Available Here: InsideCBfCProtocol
Please feel free to share this information with others. If you do, please attribute it as follows:
© 2004 Alan Hobson (Updated December 2013)
2-Time Cancer Survivor & Climb Back from Cancer™ Coach
Protocol Co-Creator, climbback.com