• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 10s

Cancer survivor completes epic journey

By Shannon Ballard 1:49 PM July 25, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Sam Dresel looks at his life in moments, and pulling up to the “Welcome to Anchorage” sign Tuesday was a big one.

He just completed the motorcycle ride of a lifetime, logging more than 2,300 miles from the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean and documenting the entire 10-day trip.

“It’s been a big dream of mine for a long time and to finally do it is pretty awesome,” Dresel said.

An adventure like this isn’t totally out of the ordinary for Dresel. He’s a combat firefighter who served in Iraq and performed search and rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina.

But to fully understand how much his ride meant to him, look back at where his epic journey started six years ago on his 20th birthday.

“It was 8:32 or so in the morning and I was doing a physical to go to Iraq for combat firefighting over there. I walk in and he says, ‘Hey you’re a firefighter so I’m not going to sugarcoat this, you have cancer. We’re going to need to do a biopsy but I’m pretty sure you’re terminal,’” Dresel said.

He was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The doctors gave him less than a month to live.

“The therapeutic thing for me was to make this bucket list. It was like four pages long, front and back, with thousands of things on it,” Dresel said.

He wrote down things he would do if he survived, like bungee jumping and hiking in Patagonia.

The ride through Alaska was at the top of the list.

He waited six years, with the list tucked in his gun safe, until the doctors came to him with the good news.

In December, Dresel learned he was cancer-free and it was time to start checking off the list.

“We might as well make it a documentary and see if we can raise money for the American Cancer Society and North Star Volunteer Fire Department up in North Pole, Alaska,” Dresel said. “Those two were instrumental to me when I was going through chemotherapy.”

Life is about moments. Dresel’s advice: Don’t wait for them — create them.

“Making it through all that, it makes you defiantly appreciate each moment,” he said.

Dresel and his crew are hoping to have the documentary finished by next September.

They plan on entering it in local film festivals to inspire people to live their dreams.

On another note, while Dresel was at the Artic Ocean he got engaged to his girlfriend Balinda O’Neal, who was the woman behind the camera the entire trip.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Fili’s Pizza drops liquor store application

    by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK on Mar 26, 19:01

    Fili’s Pizza has dropped its application to turn its restaurant into a liquor store, according to a story published by KYUK Public Media. Bethel City Council issued a protest of the license in February, mainly because of the site’s location. The pizzeria sits across the street from a halfway house and a cemetery, down the […]

  • News

    Sunken South Korea ferry lifted from sea floor

    by Associated Press on Mar 26, 18:26

    South Korean salvage crews have raised a sunken, 6,800-ton ferry out of the water and loaded it onto a transport vessel that will carry it to a port. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Friday that the upper side of the Sewol had been lifted from the seafloor, where it was lying sideways after […]

  • Politics

    Trump tweets about Democrats, Freedom Caucus after health care bill fails

    by CBS News on Mar 26, 18:01

    President Trump initially publicly blamed Democrats for the failure of the Republican health care bill. But on Sunday morning, he hit the Freedom Caucus and outside groups, too, tweeting that Democrats in Washington are “smiling” after the conservative Republicans “saved” Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the […]

  • Sports

    Alaskans bring home medals from the Special Olympics World Winter Games

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 16:47

    Among the athletes at this year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria were two Alaskans, both of whom brought home medals in their respective sports. Madison Englund is a snowboarder from Fairbanks and earned two medals at the games. Fellow athlete Jennifer Troutman hails from Anchorage and earned a medal in Alpine skiing. She was disqualified […]

  • Politics

    Meet the candidates: District 6 – Seat K – South Anchorage

    by Daniella Rivera on Mar 26, 16:00

    KTVA invited every registered candidate running in the upcoming Anchorage municipal election to an on-camera interview at our studios to discuss the following topics: Balancing the budget Public safety Introducing new taxes Addressing homelessness in Anchorage Plans for the future We also asked each candidate to submit a 300-word biography. The candidates’ full interviews and […]

  • Alaska troopers search for suspects in taxi driver’s robbery

    by KTVA / AP on Mar 26, 13:56

    Alaska State Troopers say they are searching for two men who robbed a taxi driver at gunpoint. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a trooper news release says a driver for Arctic Cab picked up a man at Club Manchu early Saturday morning. Troopers say the man, who appeared to be in his early 30s, […]

  • News

    3 pilots inducted into Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 13:20

    Three pilots were inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame Saturday night. KTVA’s Joe Vigil was the master of ceremonies at the event, which honored pilots Holger “Jorgy” Jorgenson, Sam White and J. Vic Brown Jr. The ceremony is a major fundraiser for the Alaska Aviation Museum, which preserves the state’s aviation history, past […]

  • Trooper-involved shooting leads to deaths of suspect, K-9

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 26, 12:02

    Last updated at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 26 A Wasilla man and a K-9 died Sunday after a shooting involving Alaska State Troopers, according to an online dispatch. The incident began around 2:50 a.m. during an attempted traffic stop in the area of Bogard Road and Helen Lane in Wasilla, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters […]