And Then, Cancer

And Then, Cancer

There are certain words that you don’t exactly relish hearing from your husband’s mouth.

Like: “WHAT THE FUCK?!” as he’s staring at your naked lower half while you change clothes beside the bed in the morning.

A quick glance down revealed the source of his outburst. On the outside of my upper right thigh: a massive bruise. I had no idea where it came from. It was deep purple, blue, and huge (approximately four inches wide and two tall). I’m clumsy, always have been, so it isn’t outside the total realm of possibility that I bumped it and promptly ignored it. But you would think that I would have felt that one pretty good.

I didn’t think too much of it for the rest of the day. I checked on it periodically, but the next morning when I looked again I wondered if it had actually gotten bigger. I am usually one to dismiss concerns and just wait for them to go away, but this, coupled with the fact that I just didn’t feel right, was perplexing. I wanted to just talk to someone else about it, and so even though we were housesitting in Washington, by force of habit and comfort I called Alberta Health Link. A nurse patiently took me through a list of questions but at that point just advised me to keep an eye on it. At his insistence, I drew around it with a Sharpie so I could monitor any growth.

Later that night as I was crawling into bed I noticed what felt like canker sores on the inside of my mouth. I’ve had them before – a long while ago – so this wasn’t a crazy surprise but it suddenly seemed like five of them that just appeared in a matter of minutes. I was tired, I rolled over, honestly thought about just ignoring them and checking in the morning, but I forced myself out of bed to go and see.

They were not canker sores, but instead blood blisters that had formed on the inside of my cheeks. I returned to bed and we also found a rash of small red dots all over my lower legs. At 10:30pm I called Alberta Health Link again, told a new nurse all of my symptoms and she told me to immediately get to emergency.

I burst into tears at the urgency of her voice. I yelled at Pete to search for a nearby emergency room as I dressed quickly.


The waiting room at the Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale was packed but I didn’t have to wait long after seeing the triage nurse. Some of the others waiting sneered as I appeared to cut in line, but I could never blame them. Other than these odd and unnoticeable symptoms (which Pete and I had already surmised from online searches meant a significant drop in my platelets), I looked and felt fine. And that would be what would perplex the doctors for a couple of days.

The emergency room doctor had ordered blood tests before he even came to see me and the results were immediately alarming. In a normal human, platelet levels are usually 150,000 – 400,000 per cubic millimetre. Mine were at 10,000. By the time I was transferred to a nearby facility in Bremerton in order to receive a platelet transfusion, they had dropped to 7,000. Because platelets are responsible for blood clotting, all of those symptoms that quickly showed up were little forms of internal bleeding. If I had ignored them, any number of things could have taken my life immediately. A spontaneous brain bleed. A paper cut that would refuse to stop bleeding. (You might imagine the heavy cycle of “what ifs” that run through my head regularly.)

I was never allowed to really settle once I was fully admitted into Bremerton. Pete barely dozed beside me on a chair while nurse after doctor after nurse came in to regularly check my vitals, pull blood, and ask me a million questions a million different ways. My main doctor arrived mid-morning (a Canadian!) and I was also seen by a hematologist a little while later. Both of them assured me of the same thing: that I had ITP: an autoimmune disease characterized by a low platelet count. The reason for such a solid declaration was that everything else about me was so normal: my blood cell counts, the regular functioning of my organs, everything. (I had high blood pressure too, but POLITICS.)

ITP itself doesn’t have a known cause; however, it also can be symptomatic of a couple of dozen of other things, and so they were continuing tests to rule all other things out. More blood given, more platelets taken in, and I sent Pete home for the night so we both could get some sleep. In the morning, he was just on the drive back when the hematologist stopped back in to give me news.

I sat on the bed alone, still feeling fine (if only a little tired), while she apologized for the next word out of her mouth: leukemia. Only after taking a look at a smear of my blood could she see the presence of blast cells.

I’m honestly not sure what happened next. I know my hands flew to my face and I was crying; I don’t remember what else she said, and I don’t remember how long it took Pete to arrive afterwards. I do remember him sitting on the bed calmly as my other doctor arrived later to talk about it again. I remember feeling both confused and grateful for his calm while I buried my head in his shoulder and sobbed. I remember apologizing to him the minute we were alone – apologizing for messing up this beautiful life that we have.

He rejected the apology, of course – this is not something I have brought on myself. There is no known cause; my final diagnosis of APML is quite rare. I read an article the other day that said there were only ten cases of it in Australia last year. Somehow, it just found me.

Homeward Bound

I just wanted to get home. Yes, they tried to get me to stay (upselling: that’s capitalism in medicine!) but while I was well enough to get on a plane, that is all I wanted. They pumped me full of platelets and allowed me to fly out the next day. My mom and brother-in-law met us at the airport and took me straight to the hospital where a bed was kept waiting for me since the night before. I’ve since been surrounded by my sister, my father, dear friends and other family members from near and far.

It seems so surreal to be back in Calgary, the city I’ve had a rocky relationship with for most of my adult life, asking her to embrace and heal me.

Fortunately, my prognosis is very good. As everyone has said, if I had to pick a leukemia, then I made a good choice. The scariest factors are early death if it goes undetected or untreated, of which I am lucky to have found it early and treatment began within a few days. Now I just have to be super careful about staying healthy (all things considered) so as not to risk infection or bleeding of any sort.

Little bruises continue to pop up on my body in random places. I get my blood checked every twelve hours (down from every six hours, as everything is moving in the right direction and/or stabilizing), and my vitals every four or even more often. The site of my bone marrow biopsy is still bruised and a bit sore, as if someone punched me there really hard. I have a purple tube running in a hole in my right bicep through an artery near my heart for easy delivery of drugs and pulling of blood. I think I’ve had five platelet transfusions so far. I get a little cocktail cup full of pills every morning with everything from high blood pressure meds to vitamins to continuous birth control pills so that I don’t menstruate at all. I am putting on weight thanks to the steroids I am on. Every other day I take a massive needle of heavy chemicals and on day nine of my treatment, actual arsenic will be used. I try to get up and walk as much as possible and I have breathing and other exercises I need to do. Sometimes my vision is a bit blurred and I tire easily. I have to cover the toilet with an absorbent pad when I flush so that the toxins that emerge from my body don’t affect my visitors.

(If this is your first stop on this blog, and I suspect for some of you it might be, then welcome to my world of over-sharing.)

My protocol could vary yet depending on what happens, but the expectation is that I will be in the hospital for 36 days of treatment to start with, and then potentially grounded for a year to receive treatment five days a week. So far, so very good, my body is reacting to everything as it should and my side effects are actually not even the worst. I honestly keep waiting for that time to come – for my hair to fall out and for nausea to overtake me – and my doctor says that I could potentially see none of that. Or, it could all start tomorrow. For now, I am taking advantage of what energy I do have, getting outside when they let me, and enjoying my family. Everyone is very optimistic – albeit cautiously – but all I can say is that I feel very very fortunate that it was caught early and that the outlook is so positive.

A Few Additional Thoughts

So yeah, this blog post may be a bit of a mess of random thoughts, but that is basically how I feel in both my brain and body. It’s been just over one week since my diagnosis, and maybe some clarity worthy of memes will even come in time, but for now I just want to answer some regular questions and share initial reflection.

— I’ve had many people ask about my thoughts on American vs. Canadian health care now that I have experienced both. I reasonably can’t give any big insight given my limited experience with either at such a critical level, but all I can say is this: I have felt very, very well taken care of on both sides of the border. Everyone I dealt with in Washington was compassionate, thoughtful, and thorough. The same continues in Alberta. I feel very comfortable with all of my doctors and nurses and am confident that I am getting the best care possible.

There is the matter of cost, though. Pete and I are always diligent about buying travel insurance and so far our provider seems to be on our side, but I am always wary of the existence of some bullshit excuse that will prevent them from paying (I will write more about insurance later once it is settled). I expect (with no real basis for my assumption), that the bill will run in the tens of thousands considering the tests I had done and the specialists I saw. My travel insurance, on the other hand, for a couple of months in the US was less than $300 for both of us. A worthy investment.

The minute I stepped into the hospital in Calgary, everything is covered for me. I am going to be admitted for at least 36 straight days, and then probably on an outpatient program for up to a year (where I will be visiting the hospital five days a week). There is a small bit of additional insurance that Pete and I are purchasing to help cover the cost of some prescriptions, but the expensive chemo treatments will all be covered. Thank you, Tommy Douglas. I feel extremely lucky to have been born in this country for many reasons – and socialized healthcare is definitely one of the most significant.

— So, um, this is kind of a travel blog, eh? This piece of the internet has been our home for almost six years, and that won’t change. More than ever, people need to broaden their own borders. Travel brings empathy, knowledge, inspiration, escape, and more. Sadly, for the next year or so, we won’t be able to personally bring any of that to you. But we want it to be waiting for us when we get back (we are already making “Survivor Trip” plans)!

We’re not exactly sure what will happen in the meantime, but we have ideas. We would like to open it up to other writers with a similar aesthetic of storytelling. We have some other stories of our own from the past that we will try to work in as well. Pete and I will most definitely continue to have a place here, until we can call it our own once again. There’s a lot to figure out.

— The support. THE SUPPORT. I cry at least a dozen times a day, and only sometimes because I enter a wee “woe is me” phase. Mostly it is from the incoming waves of love that just overwhelm. From homemade food to bags of my favourite potato chips to pictures to random notes to being added to prayer circles to games to books to socks to offers of beds for my family to everything and anything. I have never felt so uplifted. I am in awe. I am moved. I feel selfish.

I feel like I am the recipient of so much, too much, and the world right now needs a good dose of the intense love I feel. I will not get political here but all I will say is that I have so many dear friends around the world who are reeling and heartbroken because of recent events. I am, too. And yet at the same time I feel guilty of being the recipient of so much love when so many people need it, like I am hoarding it all to myself. But I promise to turn every little bit of kindness I have received back out into the world in a positive way as soon as I can. In the meantime, please be kind and loving to each other as well.

— And finally… You guys, this is why Pete and I do what we do. This is the scenario that spurred us into action – the desire to fill our days full of living in case our days aren’t many. We’ve personally seen it happen before. And while I firmly believe that this will not be my end, having the words “life-threatening condition” attached to my name does cause me to pause.

But I feel good. And I’m living the life I am supposed to. And I’m so in love. And I’m currently crying tears of pure happiness and gratitude.

Fuck cancer.

Much love,



  1. Soak up all that love Dalene and never feel guilty for having so much love given to you. It’s the way its supposed to be. By receiving it you keep the cycle moving.

    Your spirit will pull you through this for sure. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you listened to your intuition. Much love and positive healing energy from the Makepeace family Down Under! xxx

  2. You deserve every bit of love you are receiving. Because guess what? You and Pete have done something–probably many things–to inspire that love from people who have many choices about who they will bother to share it with! You’re only getting it BACK.
    May it be everything you need it to be.
    Xo Heather

  3. Dalene, this is so beautifully written, at the same time so gut wrenching. I feel sad for all that you and Pete are going through but no doubt you are a strong woman who will beat this. Stay positive, keep fighting, and know that you have an army of support behind you always. Hugs xox

  4. Hey Dalene,

    This is actually the first time in my life that I’ve ever posted a comment on a travel blogger’s blog. And I think Hecktictravels deserve my very first comment.

    I learnt a lot from your blog, not only travel tips but also life stories and challenging thoughts. That makes Hecktictravels the top of the list when I am looking for travel inspiration or tips or whatever that I need that’s related to travelling.

    I am sorry to hear about the diagnosis of APML. However, like how you always are, I am happy to see that you are very optimistic despite your circumstances.

    Hope that you will get well soon =)

    Aaron from Melbourne, Australia

    1. (I thought I should correct my mistake of – A medical student who always reads your blog)

  5. My heart goes out to you guys! I have no doubts you can conquer this the way you have all other challenges. Don’t let the many days in hospital get you down. Remember that you’re loved, both by family, friends and this community. We’re here for you… if even virtually. And, as a fellow Calgarian, if there’s anything you need during your stay, just say the words and we’ll drop whatever it is off. Crave cupcakes? No problem! Jugo Juice? We’re on it. Something from the Farmer’s Market? We got it. Just say the word!

  6. Sending loads of posivity to the both of you! I am a palliative care nurse from N.B. who’s husband has been treated for cancer in the past, I discovered your blog after you visited my area, and have throughly enjoyed reading about your travels. Keep doing what you do, oversharing is most definitely welcome, and know that coming out on the other side of cancer is somehow sweeter than remaining free of it….his testicular cancer was particularly rare and aggressive but he persevered which has given us lots to laugh about…..nothing like a good ball joke, according to “the Uni-baller”. ????

  7. In my experience you receive so much love and support because you also give it back. So no, don’t feel guilty. Take it all and use it to heal and get better, because you would do the same for those people giving it to you.

    Take care and look after yourself and you will be back on the road in no time 🙂

  8. Fuck Cancer!! Dalene, you are amazing. Your positivity is so inspiring and I will be following you guys throughout your journey with cancer. Thanks for sharing

  9. Dalene, the inspiration you eluminate is amazing. My partner and I have been travelling since April and in my blog (created for family and friends) I use your honesty policy as a basis of making it real.
    I cried when i saw this, not only because of the real nature of it but because I feel like you have become a friend. In reading your blogs, I have come to know you and though we have never met, I feel a friendship connection. I can tell you are such a strong woman and you will no doubt walk away from this having touched even more lives with your blogs about this new journey. Try not to feel guilty for the love you are given when you give so much to others… its all part of the cycle.
    Currently in Japan, I will add a wish to a speedy recovery for you at the next stop of sacred ground.
    Stay strong, cry til there are no tears left and fuck cancer!

  10. Of all the journeys I’ve wished for my friends to take, I would never want anyone to have to go down this road. I love your honesty in this post and I’m so encouraged to hear that the care you’ve received has been so exemplary. I’m happy to count myself in the worldwide gang of travelers and dreamers you have inspired and are now rooting for you and cheering you on – you please know that so many people, in so many places, care for you and are sending you prayers, thoughts, and best wishes.

  11. What makes your blog so appealing (at least for me) is its authenticity. In all the years I’ve been following you guys, I’ve never felt you were trying to be anything less than 100% real. This post exemplifies that quality. People want honesty and authenticity and to feel like they truly know the person who wrote the piece and can, therefore, trust what they are reading. You get that, and that’s why so many people feel a personal connection to you.

    Whether you’re blogging about travel or cancer or your favorite tv show won’t matter. As long as you are you, we will all want to hear what you have to say. So please, keep writing. (When you’re not otherwise occupied kicking cancer in the butt, obviously.

  12. Thank you for sharing and you deserve all this love and support and it will heal. So true- this is the scenario that spurred you to action-yet another good reason to live the life of happiness. thank you. Your blog is your life blog – whether it is travel or not – it’s your life, so keep on sharing. Healing thoughts, positive vibes for your speedy recovery.

  13. Dalene, this is the most beautiful and inspiring post I’ve read in a long time. I can’t even imagine what a setback this came as, but all I can say is, you’ve got it and I have no doubt that you’ll come out of this stronger than ever. Many more adventures await you! All my love and hugs. x

  14. Thank you for sharing your personal feelings and account of what you’re going through. There will be many more journeys in your future, for now, just soak up the love and take care of yourself 🙂

    Sending thoughts of love, health and support from us Canadians in Colombia ?❤️

  15. Shocked when I saw your FB post and then came to read this. I wish the best for you Dalene and Pete. You guys will get through this and come out stronger than ever. Meanwhile, take it easy and please get plenty of rest! Sending you love and encouragement from Singapore. Speedy recovery!

  16. Sending you all the best wishes!! I was a nurse before moving abroad and often worked on the oncology floor. Not many people have the positive outlook and strength that you have and it’s inspiring to read. You’ll be healed soon and on with new travels!

  17. Dear Dalene..your blog was such a good example of why you are beloved, authentic, clear, funny and poignant,You are so much loved and you deserve to are a full person who shares herself in a loving, truthful and caring way. All of us here in San Miguel at Guadalupana 58, two and four legged beings send you giant hugs, love and know we are rooting for you every day. Hugs to Pete
    Judith Mark, Honey Sofia, Zorrrita, Zena and Sombra

  18. Dear Dalene and Pete,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the past two years. I’ll be thinking of you in my prayers. Stay strong.

    Much love, Urška, Slovenia

  19. FUCK CANCER!!!
    You got this, damn it. And we’ll all make sure this space of the webs stays nice and warm until you can get back at it – which you will!

  20. Dear Dalene and Pete
    C’est avec beaucoup de tristesse que nous apprenons les problèmes de santé de Dalene ! On vous souhaite beaucoup de courage et force pour lutter contre la maladie.
    On sera toujours heureux de vous revoir.
    On vous embrasse bien fort
    Cécile, Stéphane, Bastien, Claire, Rose, Eipo and Bulle!

  21. Dalene,
    I wish you the very best and my thoughts are with you. Cancer is the one word that scares me the most. No rhyme nor reason. It comes and fucks with our life’s. Be positive, get fresh air (that would be my mothers recommendation), and laugh if possible. I do believe that our spirit can work magic if needed. Corina

  22. Love you D 😉 even in this circumstance your writing makes me smile.
    You’ve got this and we’ve got you 😉

  23. Ditto to everything that has been said above. All strength and my best wishes to you Dalene and Pete! Soak up the love and beat this cancer. Thank you for sharing.

  24. You’re loved and deserve every last bit of support you’re receiving. Don’t feel guilty about it. Look forward to seeing you happy and healthy in Calgary. xx

  25. Love reading your posts and this is the first one to which I’m responding, but hang in there! Trust that you will be fine! And thank you for sharing your honesty – that’s one reason why your blog is so popular!

  26. Pete & Dalene,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Sending you love and positive vibes.

    You can do this!!!

    Lorena & Gerald

  27. I’m so sorry to hear about this, but glad you detected it early. I went for a job interview with a blood cancer charity earlier this year and remember reading that it often takes months to get a diagnosis, partly because there are so many different types. It sounds like you have a really positive attitude. Planning a survivor trip is definitely the best motivation for fighting it and I look forward to the day we can follow those adventures. I wish you the very best.

  28. Sending you all the best wishes from Australia, Dalene. That was a very brave and poignant post, you are an inspiration. Lap up all the love and support,and remember that you have many people thinking of you and sending love. x

  29. I wish you so much strengh and I’m with you. I have my own history with this disease (my mom) and your conclusion resonates with me. Live now, you never know. Fuck cancer, you got this. Lots of love and hugs.

  30. I’m at such a loss for words, but I think about you every day. You totally got this, and I know it SUCKS, but you will get through it. I’m so glad to hear you have so many loving people around you. Andy and I are sending you love and hugs from Berlin!

  31. Dalene,
    I only recently started following your blog after reading about you in a MoneySense article. I too am a fellow Calgarian so I feel an extra affinity with your beautiful work. Sending light and love your way.

  32. Oh Dalene, you don’t know me but I listened to you and your husband speak at TBEX in Minneapolis and have followed you ever since. I too am a travel blogger and both of my parents are cancer survivors. You are so incredibly courageous to write and share these words! You brought tears to my eyes!!! Please keep sharing your stories. Yes this is a travel blog but it is also about life. About fighting. About ups and downs and hardships. I wrote a lot when my dad had stage four cancer. He had not a good prognosis at 71 but three years later, he and I climbed to 16,000 feet in Bolivia and he has beaten all odds and is thriving. It is VERY VERY hard. There are times when you will be upset, angry scared. But know that your voice and all those who read you are there cheering you on. Yes you may not be able to travel for awhile, but when you board that next plane you will be stronger and we will all be there cheering you on. Sending hugs and please continue to share your story. We are with you.

  33. I visited Egypt 2 years second flight, first time to the Middle was amazing! But I returned home nearly dead..taken immediately to the hospital. I was surrounded by love and encouragement. Accept helos with healing..and more so..prayers! I will add you to my list. God bless you!

  34. Dalene and Pete, you continue to inspire even though your current journey isn’t one you chose nor one I hope to embark on myself. I will follow along with you on your path back to good health and look forward to your other journeys ahead! I’m thankful for you, for your action that lead to an early diagnosis, and for your winning attitude! We “almost” met in an airport in Mexio last spring! If only we’d been in the same airport! ? Looking forward to getting to meet you somewhere one of these days! Praying for the best possible care for you and for your return to great health! Hugs!

  35. Hey, have been reading your blogs for a couple years as I have been able to relate to you two in so many ways. BUT this blog was different….so very sad to hear your latest news but I know that you will fight this and beat this thing and before you know it you will be out there exploring the world again! You are still young and you have support and family around you and you can totally do this!! sending you lots of cyber hugs !!! Xoxo

  36. A beautiful and honest sharing. Many times I have considered sharing more personal stories on my website, only to hesitate and say no to myself. You are a brave woman, and I commend your authenticity and openness.

  37. Here is to a speedy recovery. Thank you so much for sharing your story, you are a true inspiration to us all. I love the “FUCK CANCER” movement(it has hit most of all way too much). I join you in your fight and will pray for a fast recovery. Take care and God Bless!!

  38. Get well my friend! Remember this in your journey back to good health, you have people from all over this beautiful globe sending you good karma and love.

  39. Dear Dalene,
    I am so floored by that post, having followed you for a little while now and grown to appreciate and love what you guys do and write. Having gone through cancer a few years back and being, just like you guys seem to be, a go-getter Type A personality (and I thought I was going to use my downtime from work to advance my PhD thesis in medieval history… Haha!), I have only two pieces of advice to send your way, for whatever they’re worth. One, let yourself literally float through this part of your life, do not feel pressured to DO anything, just listen hard to HOW you feel and act accordingly. Second, get all the help you can get from family, and friends, and even total but willing strangers, without ever feeling that you are abusing and without ever feeling than you need to be uplifting to spare the people around you: the good ones will take you as you are. The best of luck to you two and keep strong!

  40. Lap up all the love, Dalene. You’ve spread it worldwide and now it returns tenfold to give you and Pete strength, so wallow in it. Your light continues to shine in your words.

  41. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your travel blog is that I had/have a similar run of fate (Hodgkins Lymphoma).
    While going through treatment of my own, I have traveled vicariously with your blog.

    While missing the nomadic life of travel, I surround myself with good people, a positive attitude towards beating this illness, and staying on top of everything one can do to improve the prognosis of my illness (there are many places I have yet to see and experience).

    Get well! Stay strong!


  42. Dalene, I always look forward to reading your latest adventure. Although, your last post was not so adventurous that I would like to visit! You always share a story from the heart and this particular one is from the heart and soul but with a little pain! I am so glad you are back on Canadian soil and that you are in excellent hands with all the medical staff in Calgary. And a big bonus with family and friends. Stay positive always and continue sending updates. Sending hugs to you and Pete.

  43. I’ve been following your adventures for a while now, and this came as such a shock! Just goes to show that it can happen to anyone, and how important it is to make the most of life and do what you love.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery…fuck cancer! xxx

  44. Dear Dalene,
    I have loved your blog and was so very sorry to hear your news. I send prayers and hope you will be well again. We never know what is around the corner.

  45. Sitting here in Dubai trying to abosrb this news, I have over the months been reading your inspiring blog, dipping in from time to time. You are a gifted communicator and your empathy is raw and real. Like Marg says I am sending my little bucket full of karma.I hope it helps. There is true authentic beauty resonating, and I feel vividly struck by your vulnerability. I hope you dont think it is a strange thing to say that you have true power in your story/journey, through the clarity of your words. I wish you the very best in your healing process. Chances are we will never meet, but I feel very connected somehow. Feel better and stay as strong as you can. And yes FC!!

  46. Cancer has affected my life in so many ways – so thank you for sharing this post, your honesty, the reality, the symptoms and the reminder of how quickly things can change. Best wishes and stay strong until this is all over and you’re back on the next flight.

  47. Dalene I have been reading your posts for some time now and have always enjoyed your take on places you visited. And cancerland is the latest. This is not “oversharing”, it is real life and gives authenticity to the challenges we face as human beings. Thank you for including us in your journey to recovery. It is heartwarming to read the support you are getting on your blog. Thinking of you and Pete. Warmly, Ingrid

  48. awww Dalene and Pete… all blessings and goodness to you and your families. I just drove through Calgary today after visiting my sweet family in Red Deer… healthy and happy… that’s The Best part of life … I pray for you… health and happiness!

    lov cath

  49. both you have inspired me, you are always strong, keep positive under any circumstances that I really appreciate and learn not only travel inspiration but also life. Get well soon and always follow your storie

  50. Thank you for the thorough update. As someone who has become accustomed to skimming blogs/looking at the pictures, I read every word and felt all your emotions along with you.

    I know, as you said, this is a travel blog, but as someone who has come to know you over years or reading and interacting with you, I also think of this as very much a personal blog chronicling you and Pete as you grow as individuals and as a couple. I, for one, want to keep tabs on your progress and your treatment, as much as you’re comfortable sharing of course, and I can think of so many others out there who might be Googling similar topics and come across your blog to be comforted and know they’re not alone. On a much smaller scale, I blogged about my dad’s stroke, permanent brain damage and the five weeks we spent in the hospital earlier this year for that very reason—and as a result, was flooded with emails from others going through a similar scenario—and while I think it will be great to open up your blog to other traveling storytellers in the next year, I hope you’ll consider continuing to share your story with all of us.

    So much love and well wishes to you both, Dalene and Pete.

  51. I’ve followed your blog for several years – it partially inspired a 3 month backpacking trip of my own. Though I’ve never met either of you, your experiences, writing, and attitudes toward life have informed my own life in so many ways. My thoughts are with you both during this time.

  52. When I saw this headline over the weekend, it took my breath away. I’ve only had a chance to return and read the story. My god. I’m so glad you were vigilant and sought care right away. I’m so glad you have a great partner in Pete who I know is taking good care of you. How scary, though! You’re right, though. If something were to happen, you’ve been doing the things you want with your life, and you should be proud. My mom was just saying she wants to retire sooner than she had previously said because she watched a friend wait and wait and wait, save, and then get cancer and die before she could do the traveling she wanted to do. There’s enough love and compassion to go around to send you some and each other after this ugly election. Sending you lots of love and healthy thoughts!!

  53. I have enjoyed your blog for the past year. Your descriptions and pictures have allowed me to experience the beauty you discovered. I especially enjoyed the Maritime Provinces these past few months. Cancer is really an ugly word to hear, especially when it is directed to you. I have been motivated to understand it better this past year, and I found some solace in the process of understand the disease. I received a real boost in attitude while reading “Radical Remissions” by Kelly Turner. The book gives insight into ways others have helped their situation. It offered me many positive actions I could take to supplement what the doctors were doing. God Bless you, Pete and the family.

  54. I admire you because you are so open. I love reading about your travels and your life with Pete.

    I think because you are so full of empathy, sincerity, and openness, that you have touched so many peoples lives !

    You guys are so much more than a travel blog.

    What has happened to you and your reaction to it, is such an inspiration !

    I want to continue to hear from you !

    Best wishes to you and Pete luv Linn

  55. It’s shocking and scary to read how suddenly this happened.I can see how you would have freaked out and you did good taking care of it so fast. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    We’ve been travelling full-time now for almost 3 years and with no incident of any kind. I’ve discussed insurances with you before (we are now on Expat insurance having used up our provincial allowances) and your experience is educational and scary at the same time. Right now I’m feeling the immediate need to pull out my policy and go through all the fine print…It’s the suddenness of it all that is so scary, the thought that it can happen to anyone one day to the next.

    I’m glad you’re in the hands of Canadian doctors Dalene and wish you a speedy recovery. I hope you’ll be on the road again soon.

    Frank (bbqboy)

  56. Hi Dalene;
    We are thinking of you and Pete and sending our thoughts and well wishes for a quick recovery.
    We left Calgary a few months ago to pursue our own travel dreams after being impacted by cancer (and job losses), not personally but with many friends around us getting diagnoses. We thought we couldn’t wait for retirement when something like this could stop us from ever achieving our goals. You guys were some of the first Bloggers we came across and we have been following you since. You inspired us to start our own blog and we look up to you as a model of success, inspiration and talent.
    We feel so blessed and fortunate to have our health and able to travel on this year or so adventure. We will continue to follow you, traveling or not but hope to see that you are back on the road soon! Hope to cross paths someday!

  57. Ive been following your blog for a while now and was so saddened to read this post! Your post is so refreshing and honest and inspiring. I wish you all the luck in the world with your fight, stay strong sister!

    All my love xxx

  58. I have just heard from Moira that you .I am so sorry to hear this.I was expecting to see you around here in Turkey.I believe that you will get over that.And you will go on your travel around the world.I know it is easy to say that you should keep are so good I wish I could do more than just saying good words.I wish you speedy recovery.My thoughts are with you both during this time.

    .I and my students are sending a lot of love to you from Turkey
    and we all wish you good luck
    Get well soon.

  59. Dear Dalene,
    I was very sad to hear that you were ill.But don’t worry.You are so strong,you can easily overcome it.Please believe the inner power of yourself.If you ask me ,a smile can make you feel strong.

    A lot of love from Turkey.
    Get well soon.

  60. I started following you about a month or so, as I like the journey that you and Peter venture together.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your illness, but so glad that it was caught in time, and that you have a great partner to support you, a family to care for you, and a health system that won’t make you stress out with worry.

    Get better soon and here’s to many more adventures in the future.

    Best Regards & hugs from Berlin xx

  61. Really not sure what to say other than to wish you strength and a positive outcome.

    Having read a few of your posts about this fucking cancer, I keep thinking how lucky we are to have universal health care

    I feel lacking in words. Health, peace, strength, love, laughter. Is there more in life? I wish it all for you.

  62. Hi Dalene
    Lots of love and support around you as well as all of us who read your blog, will bring you good health. Warm white light of healing energy streaming down into your body. Christiane Northrup (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom), in her last blog said ‘immunity is community’ – I love that. You have a whole lot of community in your life – from all over the world !! I wish you and Pete a Joyous Christmas and a New Year full of health and hope. Yes, aren’t we fortunate to live in Canada. We know the health system pretty well has us covered. I love travelling but am always so grateful to step back on Canadian soil. I so enjoy your writings. Thank you. Take good care. Patrica in Vancouver And yes ….. Fuck Cancer !!!

  63. Dalene, Ive been following your posts and newletter for some time now. My heart goes out to you both with this recent diagnosis and you are in my prayers, that you get through this most challenging time. Thank goodness you are back in Canada, surrounded by family and friends, and our trusty socialized healthcare. As a fellow Canadian, married to an American living abroad ( although not as freely as you both, we are tied to the military and where it sends us), i have been forever changed by reading your posts, stories, adventures, encouragement. I am eternally thankful to you for opening my eyes to the possibilities that life has to offer. We are kindered spirits in our passion to see the world and live to our potentials, and just embrace travel for all it has to offer. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I continue to lift you up in hope and prayer that you will be ok. Wishing you strength and health for this holiday season and new year, and wishing Pete the same.

  64. As an American, my first reaction when I read your newsletter was “thank god they are from Canada”. It’s a scary thing to face, no matter where you are from, but not having to worry financially about your treatment at least allows you to focus on getting better and spending time with the people who matter to you. Sending you lots of strength, health, comfort, and support – take every bit that you can, you deserve it.

  65. I began following your blog a year ago and loved your writing style and layout. Going to MB to hang with the polar bears is now on our bucket list!

    I missed this post when it first came up, and just clicked on it now. As soon as I saw cancer and bruise, I thought ‘leukemia’. When you wrote about mouth sores, I was sure. I know because it took my wife months to get her diagnosis. She was diagnosed Jan 2016 with AML, stem cell transplant May 2016, and is doing well and learning to live life as as transplant patient. Your attitude and a good medical team will get you far.

    I hope you’re through induction and had a clean BMB. We had to do a second induction to get to remission.

    It’s been a scary, humbling, but and incredible year. We’re all still here trying to live in moment and never forgetting how being here is such a gift.

  66. Sending you lots of thoughts and good vibes, to kick this S#$R%* out! I was lucky to meet you at TBEX last year in Minneapolis and loved your enthusiasm and authenticity. And here, on this post, your honesty in face of this devastating news is poignant. Bruno and I wish you all the strength in the world and a swift and definite victory in this battle.

  67. I’ve been subscribed to your blog via Bloglovin’ for a few months now but somehow missed this. Praying for your recovery. You are a rockstar team; you will get through this together and continue to be fabulous (and strong).

  68. Dalene,
    I was wondering why I hadn’t received any posts from you guys and so while visiting your site, I just saw this post! I am so Sorry to hear about this and please know that you both are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Though travels, tips, and information have been invaluable to many of us new in the travel/blogging/adventure world, it wasn’t just because of the info…it was because of the type of people you both are.
    I wish Dalene well, and also pray for you Pete, I know that toll it takes on the care taker as well.
    ~Eric & Darcee

  69. Even through such shocking and challenging circumstances, you write and share so beautifully and poignantly Darlene. Sending you and Pete thoughts, love and prayers for your recovery. You are a true inspiration and set such a wonderful example of why it is we must all live and travel as soon as we can, while we are young and healthy. Life offers no guarantees. I have often said to my husband (after 2 years of full time travel) if anything were to happen to me, know that I have truly lived and loved deeply and traveled more than most do in a lifetime… and so I would feel great peace in that, never feeling regret or as though my life was eve half lived. I do not know you but suspect you may feel similar… we brave gypsy spirits around the world share this…take good care of yourselves and each other and be gentle, receive and drink in all the love and support around you… and I will do my bit to be a shining light in this world that currently seems so dark to many… sending love and prayers to you on this next journey- an adventure you never planned for or wanted – but one that I hope brings gifts of a rich inner journey that somehow brings you more love, growth, and strength than you ever imagined were possible. I will continue to hold you in my heart, mind, seeing you as fully healed. Namaste. Julie

  70. Hecktic Travels has been one of my favorite blogs for awhile now, perhaps even more for your beautiful writing and honest storytelling than for the adventures themselves. I only just came across this post tonight, and I wanted to reach out and let you know that I’m sending you — both of you, as well as your family and friends! — all of my best from down here in Chile. Soak up every bit of this love, this awe, this appreciation of life from a different angle. You deserve it, Dalene. Fuck cancer. Praise love.

  71. You deserve every bit of support you get. Any positive feelings and thoughts that can be sent through the universe is a huge gain for the world! (That sounded SO hippie of me)

    Best of luck. FUCK CANCER.

  72. Such a beautiful post, Dalene. You guys are inspiring, no matter where you are and what you do. Everything will be well and you are one strong woman. All love and hugs, take care ?

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