• 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

  • Sports

    Chugiak beats South 4-3 in extra innings to win CIC

    by KTVA Sports on May 24, 11:54

    Just one day after losing to Dimond High School in extra innings, the Chugiak Mustangs went to extra frames again Saturday night. This time they came away with the win. After taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Mustangs gave up one run in the third and two more runs in […]

  • Crime

    Man sought by Anchorage police after firing weapon in front of officers

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 24, 10:56

    Police have obtained an arrest warrant for a 25-year-old man who fired a handgun in front of APD officers early Sunday morning. William Jarrett IV has been a convicted felon since 2008 and “therefore is not allowed to either be in possession of a firearm or reside in a home where firearms are located,” according to […]

  • Crime

    Tok man arrested after shooting into sporting goods store

    by Associated Press on May 24, 10:39

    A Tok man has been jailed after troopers say he fired a gun into a sporting goods store while his wife was locked inside. The Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1cd6DJ3 ) that Alaska State Troopers responded to calls about a disturbance at Three Bears Outpost in Tok and found a 59-year-old man leaving the area. Officials […]

  • Politics

    Alaska lawmakers hint budget deal is close

    by Dave Leval on May 23, 20:54

    The Alaska House reconvened in Anchorage Saturday for the third day of its second special session. It turned out to be a light lineup; the House session wrapped up after about 25 minutes. The big issue facing Alaska lawmakers is still passing a fully funded budget. They have until June 1 to reach a deal; otherwise, […]

  • News

    Alaska firefighters get extra help from Lower 48

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 23, 20:17

    Due to high fire danger around the state, extra firefighting resources from the Lower 48 are now joining the forces in Alaska. Sixteen smoke jumpers from Boise, Idaho are now going through orientation before being assigned to a suppression effort. Jet-propelled tankers — which can carry 3,000 gallons of retardant — arrived Friday to bolster […]

  • Weather

    Weekend weather forecast, May 23

    by Brett Shepard on May 23, 18:21

    Southcentral Mostly cloudy skies tonight and tomorrow with scattered rain showers. Southeast Mostly to partly cloudy skies tonight and tomorrow. Interior Sunny skies Sunday — but not quite as warm. North Slope Mostly to partly sunny skies Sunday. Western Alaska Showers along the coast with dry conditions further inland. Southwest Alaska Mostly cloudy skies with […]

  • News

    17-year-old severely injured after falling 70 feet into Port Valdez

    by Associated Press on May 23, 17:41

    Valdez police are reporting that a 17-year old girl has fallen 70 feet off a cliff into Port Valdez. Police were called to the scene just after 6:30 on Friday night. The teenager had fallen off a cliff near Dock Point Trail and suffered life threatening injuries. Police say the young woman’s friends had rescued […]

  • News

    Memorial day campers head out early to claim space at local campgrounds

    by Dave Leval on May 22, 22:46

    As Memorial Day weekend kicks off, some campers headed out early Friday to stake their claim on the best sites. Phil Fields found himself in trouble as he relaxed with his daughter at the Bird Creek Campground — he was losing to her in a game of Battleship. They arrived at 9:30 a.m. to start their […]