Alan Hobson

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.”