Hello! I am Paolo, Italian born but Australian citizen since 2010. Seven years ago I quit my job, sold everything I had and embarked in a trip around the world on a motorcycle. Rode across 3 continents and 50 countries, clocking over 200000km (125k mi) with the same bike. I got stuck on a Greek Island during Covid and then flew back to Australia in December 2021, to continue my journey around the world. After landing in Sydney, i went to the dealer to pick my bike up. The same night I had to rush to the hospital for some severe bleeding. I had no symptoms beforehand, hence the shock in finding out what was growing inside of me. After a brief examination in the ER, I was told I had stage 2 COLON cancer. I fell into a spiral of dark thoughts and I felt that my life was over. It took me 2 months just to process the information mentally, then I started my cancer therapy. I begun radiotherapy and chemotherapy afterwards. The effects that therapy had on my body were severe but the hospital staff, the ocean and motorcycling helped me keeping my mental health in a good state. On Dec 21st 2022, i had my surgery to remove the cancer, and i m now cancer free. It’s a long battle, and I m still trying to recover from the massive surgery, but at least i got rid of the big lump growing in my intestine for now. The irony of it all is that the reason why I started travelling in the first place was because I didn’t want to wake up one day and realise I spend my life piling up money to buy things that I didn’t need, instead of enjoying the moment and cherish my youth and health.

SHORT HEALTH BACKGROUND There’s no Cancer History running in my family. I m the first and only one. Most of my life I ve been very attentive to my diet. No sodas, no fast food, no junk food. i’m mostly vegetarian, meaning that I eat everything (meat and fish) but 70% of my weekly intake is veggies, fruits and carbs. I never had a problem health-wise and I had been conducting a stress free life for most of my existence. I’ve been exercising for over 30 years, playing several sports at competitive level. I ran blood work yearly and all values were perfect. I was considered physically “athletic” and in perfect health conditions right before the moment of my diagnosis. No signs of fatigue or any other symptoms before the “bleeding episode” that lead me to the diagnose. Basically I was the last person that everybody thought would get something like this.

MOTORCYCLE: I rode a KTM 1190 adventure for the whole trip across 3 continents. It has now 190000 km (120k mi). No mechanical or electrical issues in the whole trip. I now ride a KTM 890 adventure. So far I put on over 35000km (22k mi) across two continents.

Links: IG: www.instagram.com/paolocattaneophoto YT: www.youtube.com/paolocattaneo



Comments: 648 • Responses: 83  • Date: 

naviymal685 karma

Did you all live in an area where there were external factors like carcinogens around? Military sites? Industrial areas?

paolo_0516 karma

I grew up near Milan. It s an industrial area but all my fam lived here too and nobody had cancer. Once i moved to Sydney the environmental factors improved and so the quality of air and water. Hence I m not sure where it came from. Doctors, after examining me and taking a look at my background, told me that it was just “bad luck”

Orcwin241 karma

Any factors shared with your friends? Obviously we don't have all the context, but it seems a little suspicious that you all got it, including someone like you doing everything right.

paolo_0216 karma

Unfortunately no. Really. It s puzzling to see that this could happen so randomly. There are several common factors but also zero factors. For instance, i always thought that cancer is related to bad diet and poor physical exercise. But then you see 5yo kids with cancer and how can you justify that? You see people smoking till 90yo and going strong and people that never smoked with lung cancer. There are some common and directly related factors which can be attributed to cancer growth, but there are also unknown factors that come into play. Hence the docs cannot determine why this happens, otherwise they would probably stop it or try to prevent it.

Archuk20122 karma

What about alcohol? Recent studies show that there is no safe level of consumption.

paolo_06 karma

I stopped drinking even socially since 2010.
the occasional beer, yes. But mostly no alcohol.
During travelling, it was too expensive to buy alcohol for me so, no drinking.

Archuk20123 karma

Last question: what test will catch these aside from a colonoscopy? Is there a stool test? Urine? You mentioned that blood didn't catch it.

paolo_06 karma

apparently there are some saliva or other less invasive tests that can be done nowadays, but those are not so accurate.
Colonoscopy and CT scans are still the most accurate ones.
Stool test yes, can help but won't detect small polyps I fear. Not sure about this. Better consult your physician.
Yes, blood work didn't catch it at all.

soda_cookie523 karma

What did you do for money?

paolo_01171 karma

I was pretty broke financially while growing up and living in Italy. Salaries are super low for european standards here. So I moved to Australia, found a job there and worked my butt off for 5 years straight. Just saving and not spending money, just because i was focused on piling up money for once. I used to be a System Administrator/Network Engineer. Then I reached a point of burnout and quit my job. I ve lived out of my savings for over 5 years. No working at all. Then the Pandemic hit and i started to look around for opportunities and found a job in digital marketing with one of my long terms supporters. I now sustain my travels (and cancer therapies) working online.

stormi_1389 karma

How much were your savings if you don't mind me asking? I'm from Australia and planning on doing something similar but figure I'd only last a year.

paolo_0217 karma

I did not have an “target amount” in mind as costs for travelling can vary depending on continents, time of the year and style of travel. Overall I managed to save $70000 AUD in 5 years of work. In 5 years of travelling I managed to spend 80% of that, which is quite good, if you think about how much it costs to live in Sydney. But I was living veeeery cheaply and removed one meal per day as I didn’t need that anymore (only breakfast and dinner)

roguepawn205 karma

Just under 47K USD and just over 44.5K Euros, for those curious.

paolo_0110 karma

Back in the days was a tad more but roughly that s it

NIRPL44 karma

Congratulation on your recovery and journey, friend! Any advice for others who would like to pursue an online livelihood?

paolo_065 karma

there are a lot of tools nowadays that you can use to generate income working online.
Obviously, at the beginning, you can't expect a lot. Just keep a steady pace and do what you can (write articles, translations, blog, vlog, etc).
Eventually, you will make enough to start saving and eventually stat living, in a cheaper country maybe.
Nowadays, AI is a great tool to use to help you generate all sorts of insights.
Just google it.

Pretzilla-7 karma

Does (or did pre-brexit) EU citizenship include working rights in commonwealth countries?

P.s., fuck brexit - that was Pootin's doing, fyi.

paolo_032 karma

I did not have work permit in Australia. I used a so called “Working Holiday Visa” to enter the country in the first place. This 1 year visa allows one to work for 6 months for one employer. As I was a skilled worker I managed to find a employer that was willing to sponsor me for a Temporary Residency visa, after my WHV expired. After that I applied (and paid in full) for a Permanent Residency visa and subsequently for Citizenship. Overall I had to pay close to $12000 worth of paperwork to stay in the country. So it was a well worth investment in my opinion, but still quite financially challenging for a broke immigrant in a foreign country.

FloggingHank172 karma

Which country did you enjoy the most? And why?

paolo_0430 karma

There were several countries I enjoyed. For riding I guess Chile and Peru had the most incredible roads. For the people I would say Ecuador, Mexico and Scotland had the best vibe. In terms of Nature I truly love Australia and Greece.

ArtofStorytelling2 karma

Ecuadorian here. Where did you go there ?

paolo_03 karma

Oh mate! I spent almost 4 months and I went everywhere!
Loved it! Ecuadorians are so cool!
Loved your food and your roads are fantastic!
I even went to Galapagos!
Paradise on earth.

Kudos to you guys for such a great country.

frostbitten42129 karma

How did you cross the Darién Gap?

paolo_0258 karma

Once i reached Cartagena, i found out there were 4 options to cross the “gap” to Panama: sail boat, fishermen boat, cargo boat and air freight. The sailing option was the most appealing but it wasn’t available at the time. The fishermen was cheap but also the less safe for my bike. The cargo boat is the cheapest but also the delays and the complications that usually arise at customs in panama could delay you weeks. Hence i went for the air freight from Bogota to Panama city. $1100 usd and 3 h later i landed with my bike and crossed the gap. Easy and actually pretty cool.

DasND70 karma

There is another, but it takes a bit more then 3hrs


paolo_044 karma

Ah! Yeah a couple of crazy people did that but it s not recommended. 😅

Die231122 karma

How has your view of life and death changed from before you took on this journey to this moment?

paolo_0362 karma

This is a great and complex answer. When I left for my journey, I did start to appreciate life much more. I also realised life’s impermanence and the fact that Time is our most valuable asset, instead of money.

I became much more emphatic and thankful for the little things. But then, after years on the road, that sensation of humbleness started to fade a little bit. Even that nomadic (and truly awesome) life started to fade and I became a bit jaded. During Covid I then started to rethink about what should I or shouldn’t I do…to find a reason to keep going.

Then when Cancer hit, I was like “why”? Everything else lost meaning, and the only thing that matter was SURVIVING. It s truly crazy what our brain can do, when in survival mode. Nothing that I did or that I was planning to do, had no meaning anymore. The only thing that mattered was surviving this. After a while, I started to “get used” to the fact I had cancer and started to rationalise it. I even got used to go to the hospital every day. Something that used to terrify me. What could I possibly learn again from this scary life challenge? Well, now, I appreciate every second I m not sick. i appreciate every ride on my bike. I appreciate every ray of sun. Every drop of rain.

In this sense, cancer made me realise that life is fragile and that we should not take it for granted. It s unfortunately a feeling that one can obtain only after a direct exposure to suffering and pain. I guess it was my time to experience this in life.

Ironically, I started travelling because I experienced that indirectly. Now that I experience that directly, I am so much more aware of the pain that people go through and much more appreciative of the absence of it.

Die23158 karma

I’m also on a journey similar to yours. In the end it’s all about pain, isn’t? Hit me up if you ever come to Japan, drinks on me 🍻

paolo_045 karma

Roger that mate!! Japan is on the list!! Cheers

bookthieph11 karma

Reading this I'm curious about your accent, is it part Italian, part Aussie?

paolo_029 karma

yep. part American too. I spent quite a bit of time there too.
It's a huge mess in my head. :)

CricketInvasion38 karma

"A healthy person has 1,000 wishes, a sick person has only one" - Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

paolo_09 karma

So true.

loveyabunches4 karma

I’m currently fighting stage 3 breast cancer and you’ve done a masterful job of putting what we all experience into words. Not an easy concept to explain. Beautiful!

paolo_02 karma

I'm sorry to hear this. Breast cancer is one of the most widely spread cancer.
I met and spoke to so many brave women going through it.
Keep fighting and I'm sure you will get through it like a champ.
These things in life can also enrich it in a beautiful way.

Sniffy472 karma

did you pass colon cancer screening tests beforehand? (the kind where you mail in a 'sample')?

paolo_089 karma

I had no symptoms beforehand. Hence I just did routine blood test once a year and all values were spot on. I had my first colonoscopy after i got hospitalized. And during that they took a sample of the lump and confirmed that was cancerous

DSMB40 karma

How old are you? I know there's a recommended age for that test, but I can't remember.

I hope your recovery goes well.

paolo_089 karma

I am 42 yo. This kind of cancer comes usually to 65+ yo subjects. Since i got diagnosed I spoke to couple of other guys that were 31yo and 35yo so it seems that it s happening to younger and younger crowds unfortunately.

kitchen_clinton88 karma

Chadwick Boseman, The famous actor from the Black Panther movie died from Colon cancer. He was diagnosed at 40 and had several risk factors for it.


paolo_052 karma

Yes. That was a sad story but it shows how even an apparently fit individual could get something like this. Colon cancer used to be associated only to older and overweight individuals. I m definitely not in the usual high risk candidates as there s no cancer in my fam history, i m white, I don’t drink, i don’t smoke, i m mostly vegetarian and I ve been exercising for over 30 years. Played sports all my life. No stress. Hence docs were a bit shocked to see that something like this happened to me.

MrT-Man44 karma

I’m going for a colonoscopy tomorrow (I don’t have any symptoms, am just at the age where it’s recommended for preventative screening). Just want to say that reading this makes me feel better about doing it!

paolo_028 karma

Absolutely!! Prevention is the best cure! You don’t wanna go through this. Please keep your blood checked too. 😊👍

Melicalol14 karma

Is the test called colon screening? I just entered my 30s and I am the polar opposite of what you have been doing, (eating fast food, lacking exercise). Maybe this is a good thing to take if blood screening isn't helping.

paolo_012 karma

Please! Do yourself a favour and get one done. I know it s not the best to get a colonoscopy but it s absolutely necessary. I m sure you are fine but if it s just small polyps, they can be removed during the colonoscopy and without you even realising it. If you have a medical insurance it s maybe time to get one too, now that you are healthy. I cannot get one now but if i could…just to save a bit of money and expedite procedures. It may take you months to get availability for a procedure like that without symptoms.

kitchen_clinton-2 karma

It could be the nitrates in cold cuts like ham, salami, prosciutto cotto, etc.

paolo_012 karma

Don t eat much of that. My diet has been mostly vegetarian for all my life. No junk food or sodas too. I eat eggs once every two weeks. Meat once a week. Fish twice a week. Everything else is veggies and cereals, like rice, pasta and soups.

Cityofthevikingdead17 karma

My friend died of it at 17. It can happen to anyone.

paolo_08 karma

🤯😔 that’s the earliest i ve heard somebody having this

novaseeker9 karma

I'm 43 and had colon cancer last year, symptoms started around October 2021, had surgery in March 2022, now it's 294 days since they took out my cancer along with 50% of my colon. 8 rounds of chemo, no radio, all clear, next checkup in February. Was stage 3a.

paolo_04 karma

Thanks for sharing mate.

Aevynne5 karma

My best friend passed almost a year ago from colon cancer and she was only 33 when she found out she had it. It's absolutely happening to younger and younger people, and I wish they'd suggest things like cologuard as something to start early 30s.

paolo_02 karma


disdkatster44 karma

What kind of cancer did your friends have and what did you have in common? (sorry if that is too personal - say so and I will delete).

paolo_066 karma

My friends died of skin cancer and the other one brain cancer. I had Bowel cancer. So totally unrelated. We didn’t share much of history of ethnicity and environment I m afraid. Just bad luck.

nonchalan8t31 karma

Are you married or in a relationship ? If so how did you manage all your traveling and cancer with your partner ?

paolo_085 karma

I never married and I have no kids (42yo).

I always travel solo and never had a relationship in several years (red flag here :) ).
I had to figure out Cancer by myself.
Also, Radio and Chemotherapy I had to deal by myself.
I had some friends in Sydney that helped me, together with my flatmate, but I mostly dealt with it alone.
I've witnessed a lot of couples going through therapy together.
Now, for surgery, I came back to Italy and my family is supporting me during my recovery.
Spent over 2 weeks in the hospital, including Christmas.
Not the best time, but now it's over.

FragrantExcitement42 karma

Several red flags, but cancer still decided to be with you?

paolo_044 karma

Go figure.

FajenThygia29 karma

When you're travelling, do you stop to meet people along the way, or do you focus more on progress towards your goal? If you do stop and meet people, do you stay in touch at all?

paolo_061 karma

I mostly traveled alone. I did meet a lot of other travelers along the way but because of differences in itineraries or riding styles, I didn’t stick too much with other people. I truly believe that a trip has to be done SOLO. It s the only way to know yourself and be true to yourself.

It s also quite hard to find a suitable travel companion in general, but indeed is also enjoyable to ride with somebody else, sometimes. I prefer solo riding though.

I do stay in touch with most people i meet on the road. I m humbled by people’s generosity towards travellers and I m pleased to have met incredible humans along the way.

Ts021 karma

Can you describe the day you needed to go to the ER? What is considered severe bleeding? I assume it was fresh blood in stool?

paolo_037 karma

Yes, and sorry for the "graphic" content.
So I had dinner and started to have cramps in my belly (not my stomach).
I rushed to the toilet and after going to what I thought was n2, I looked down and there was a pool of just bright red blood (no stools).
I kind of panicked as It looked like somebody stabbed me.
I rushed to the ER and I almost fainted as the hemorrhage was probably still happening inside of me.
As soon as I got checked out, they told me that they could feel a lump in my colon and that it would probably be cancer (because of the size).
They scheduled a colonoscopy after that and confirmed the presence of neoplasia (the lump). The subsequential biopsy of some samples of it confirmed the malignity of the lump and the initiation of the medical therapy.

MMMTZ21 karma

Wow that's quite the story, and thank whoever you believe that you are cancer free, May I ask 2 questions?

Would you agree or be ok if your story was portrayed in film? Your story reminded me of the movie "The leisure seeker" (disclaimer: I'm 0% related to anything in the film industry, it's just I recently watched that movie and the thought came)

If your health started to deteriorate, or cancer returned...would you still hit the road till the end? Or would you stay at a hospital for treatment and such

paolo_041 karma

Of course I would love to see my story in a movie. Mostly because of the message that carries. The fact that I took a chance in life for some specific reasons and that those exact reasons came back to haunt me few years later. I would have kicked myself if I didn’t, wouldn’t I? This kind of pivotal points in life happens in everybody’s existences. I have many friends that wanted to do certain things or that didn’t take the chance and waited for a “better” moment that never came. Hence the bitter sweet satisfaction in my case to have left my daily job and travelled the world when i could!

I m now cancer free but, as you said, cancer could come back and most likely it would…but I m not scared anymore. More so now, I m willing to travel and explore, as I know my clock is ticking even faster than before. Time is precious.

magramatica18 karma

Where would you normally stay? coach surfing, hostels, etc? I wish you the best of luck with your journey and am sending good energies!

paolo_018 karma

I stayed mostly in hostels as they are the cheapest and easiest accommodation. Sometimes Couchsurfing doesn’t allow the same freedom as hostels.

mattdean413016 karma

200,000km on a single bike? What was it? That's massive J's!

paolo_016 karma

Yes!! It still works!! It s a 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure. I have a video about it on my YouTube channel. Info in the description

Tralan10 karma

Hey! I have colon cancer too! I had to have a huge chunk of my large intestine removed because it ruptured. I also went septic and almost died.

What kind of chemo are you doing? I've had FOLFOX and FOLFIRI, and I'm currently on LONSURF. FOLFOX was the worst. If I ate or drank anything below room temperature, it felt like I was swallowing broken glass. FOLFIRI gave me horrendous pustules around my nose and mouth. They'd break on their own and bleed. My pillowcase is stained with the blood from when they broke in my sleep.

paolo_010 karma

Hey. Sorry you had to go through that. I has CAPOX, which is slightly less invasive but same side effects. i also had capecitabine while going through radio. Pins and needles sensation in my hands and feet are still here. The mouth ulcers and pain was same for me. Plus radio was hell as i could not process food for over 3 weeks. Lost 10kg. Now surgery went well but i am still recovering. Damages of therapy were big but hopefully the cancer is gone. Stay strong my friend. Hopefully we will go back to a semi-normal life

stealthyninja699 karma

What's your favorite thing about the KTM? I haven't done any adventure riding, but the KTMs have always had me tempted to start!

Did you learn anything from your friends cancer journeys that you've been able to use in yours?

Condolences for your friends, good luck for your fight and keep living the good life!

paolo_018 karma

My fav thing about KTM is the raw power that the engines deliver. I rode a 1200cc with 150hp for over 130mi and it was worth the effort of carrying such a heavy machine. Performances were outstanding and technology is top of the line. Now i ride a 900cc with less weight and power but still the same exciting torque. The community behind the brand is also amazing. Bunch of crazy guys that want to ride fast! If you are into that, this is the brand for you.

Unfortunately i did learn a lot from other people’s cancer journey. Everyone lives the struggle differently and not everybody reacts and fights it in the same way. Some people have pre existing conditions and it makes the whole experience even worse.

So, at the end of the day, keeping your body the healthiest possible is still a good thing, even if you get cancer. Having a good physical condition overall helps in a quick recovery and keeping a decent mental state. Cancer therapy is taxing and could be daunting if not prepared.

There are a lot of people that have/had cancer like myself but weren’t so lucky as i did, physically.

Thanks for your condolences. My two friends death, really touched me deeply

hawkbyte379 karma

Hey, first of all congratulations on beating your cancer. I've got some questions!

  1. How did it felt at the moment when you heard about the cancer news? Like living a fun traveling life and the very next moment in the bed with an illness. How of this sudden shift effected you mentally?
  2. While traveling from country to country, how much did you learned about the human culture and for me it's really surprising that we are just humans but different nationality, religion, race and background.
  3. What valuable lessons did you learned while interacting with various people around the globe. Also mention similarities and differences did you notice.
  4. By just escaping death, what tips would you like to give us about the importance of life?

I cannot think of anymore questions as now. But will sure ask you later. All the best for you future life journey! God has gave you another chance to shine


paolo_041 karma

Hey! Thanks a lot for all these beautiful questions! I ll try to answer them the best I can.

  1. I flew to Australia with the plan of travelling and spend months on the road. 3 days after i landed I was at the hospital and docs told me I had cancer. You can imagine the sensation. My surgeon also told me that i had 65% of survival, and If I did have the surgery he offered me, I could also have permanent urinary and sexual dysfunctions. Not the best day of my life, I have to admit it. After that meeting, I couldn’t sleep for roughly 2 months. Then I started radiotherapy and my condition became my new reality. After all, we adapt to everything, even to cancer. Once our mind accepts it, the only thing left to do is to react and keep moving forward. The only thing that mattered at the end was to stay alive and try to kill cancer. All my travel, work and relationships plans were out the window. The only thing that matter was to survive. It s super tough mentally to accept such a change in somebody’s life, but travelling i guess helped me a bit adapting to this new circumstance. We need to move on and struggle to survive, no matter what.

2 and 3. Travelling so extensively, allowed me to understand that we are all pretty much alike. We truly are. We ofter seen only our differences but we have so much more in common that what differs from one another is truly irrelevant. It’s like being all at the same table for lunch and one orders sparkling water and the other one flat. We all need to eat though and we all process and love food the same way. We just use different tools or choose different flavours. At the end of the day we all need a purpose in life and all want to be loved and respected. We all love and are proud of our countries and the place we live. We all love our ways. We all love our families. We all think alike, even though we speak different languages or believe in different gods. It s truly amazing to look at all the shades and colours of the human being.

  1. I did not escape death. I just got really closed to it and look at its face for a sec. I know it s waiting for me, like it s waiting for everyone else. It s just my clock is ticking faster now. This makes you appreciate life and its beauty much more. It s hard to explain to others because unfortunately nobody can’t explain fear and emotions entirely to another person. The privilege of living something like this and surviving it is surely rare and I hope it will bring me even more enlightenment than my solo trip on a motorcycle brought me already. The true value of these strong experiences lies in the gained empathy. Empathy is the true common denominator. The link between people. I found out that I now have a profound bond with all other cancer patients…by default. And with all people that experienced indirectly cancer in their lives. This is truly a gift in disguise.

TriFolk9 karma

What are your plans for the next 5 years?

paolo_026 karma

I want to travel around Africa. As soon as i recover from surgery, i m off!

TriFolk8 karma

Cool. I was wondering if your condition changed your mind in priorities. And to follow up on that, what would you change if you could go back in your last 7 years? I was also wondering why you left Africa out? Planning on going to Russia?

paolo_013 karma

Yes of course. Something like this changes you deeply. Now I see “problems” in a totally different way. Nothing is a problem anymore, unless it tries to kill me. It s a bit general but at the end of the day, all the frugal issues we have in life are irrelevant to me now. I just want to be alive and healthy.

If i could go back 7 years I would probably not assume that i am invincible and that i have control of my body as i though i had. Cancer makes one understand that sometimes your body does what it does. I always relied on it without assuming i needed to check on it deeply, just because i felt ok.

I would have definitely got screened more if i knew this.

Africa and Asia are next in my travel bucket list.

DaBi5cu1t8 karma

Of all the countries you've been to, what country would you want to help you fight your cancer?

paolo_015 karma

Australia has been quite helpful in fighting this. The public health system was super efficient and the personnel was excellent in dealing with patients. Everybody was super professional. I wouldn’t want another country to help me deal with this. I had my surgery here in Milan and the service was ok too. Not quite as the Australian but still quite good.

quiettryit8 karma

How much money does one need to leave everything and travel? Did you still work some?

paolo_013 karma

This is a very relative question, therefore there are no books about “how much do you need to do this or that…”. If you travel through a very expensive country but wild camp for 6 months straight, you won’t need $20000 to invest in accommodation. If you need 5 meals a day, and your food has to be cooked by a chef all the times, you definitely need a lot of money to invest in that. Etc, etc. The 2 main factors that determine how much you need to save to leave everything and travel are “where are you travelling to” and “how you are travelling”. I understand that this is an easy concept to depict for me but a hard one to conceive for somebody that hasn’t travelled this way yet. I know this because I had the same questions before i started travelling. Let s say that, if you plan to live on a tight budget, and sacrifice comfort, you can stretch your budget roughly to $30-50 per day on a long period (min 6-8 months). It s a tough estimate because at the beginning you will spend a lot more than this due to the fact that you will still need to transition from a regular life to a life of a traveler. You will figure things out the more you go, but again, if you travel in a cheap country/continent like south east asia and some countries in south america, you ll spend less than that. Anyway, the best way to figure things out is to go for a quick run. Or save $50k and try to stretch that as much as possible. 50k will last you YEARS on the road, trust me.

9-tri-cy-go6 karma

In the context of all you have experienced and the "non traditional" (sorry, not sure of a better way to phrase that) choice you've made regarding traveling in your 30's and 40's. What is your point of view on living life in your 60's, 70's, and on? Are you worried at all about having enough money to live off of in your later years when earning income will be more difficult?

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

paolo_011 karma

That is a fair question.
To be honest, when I spoke to the surgeon for the first time, he told me I had 65% chance of survival.
After that conversation, the whole "worrying about retirement" goes out of the window.
Anyway, I have a small retirement fund which I'm going to access when I'm 65, If I manage to survive. I also have life insurance, which is going to help my family in case of my death.
Anyway, I think I won't need a lot, even when I'm old.
I live a pretty minimalistic life at the moment and I plan to keep it this way, even more so now, until the end of my days.
I don't need a fancy house, clothes, or a BMW. Once one doesn't have kids, a wife, and a mortgage, life becomes pretty easy, let me tell you.

I only have to take care of myself and I will manage to do so with what I have. I don't have much time left anyway. Hopefully 40 more years, but realistically probably like 20-30 If I'm lucky.

kitchen_clinton5 karma

How would you get men and women to get colonoscopies to prevent your cancer?

paolo_010 karma

Unfortunately this is the biggest challenge. Colonoscopies are invasive and generally not a pleasant experience, even though you are asleep while they perform that to you. The preparation for it is like 3 days of eating a certain diet and one day of drinking that cleanser which will keep you in the restroom for a good 2-3 hours overall. It s not something that somebody will be willing to do unless you are forced to, i guess. But apparently there are new methods that are less invasive nowadays. Unfortunately there s nothing that would replace a camera or a CT scan. The only thing i can say is that, If i knew what cancer treatment was, I would have taken a colonoscopy every 6 months in no time.

kitchen_clinton14 karma

As someone who has had colonoscopies I would disagree with you about how invasive they are. The biggest obstacle is thinking that you are going to get a 1 cm wide, 2 m long tube up your anus. The thing is they never show it to you although you may watch the footage as it is being used inside. You are made comfortable and you shouldn’t feel anything after it’s done. If you feel some discomfort while it is being inserted a cry will elicit more anaesthesia. If polyps are found the surgeons can operate with the same instrument and no one needs to open your abdomen although you probably need to come back for it if it will take a lot of time to remove needing another colonoscopy.

The fruity liquid solution to take 24 hours before is now pleasant tasting.

I just wanted to clear this up for readers who may need or want to check their colons.

The question I asked was how would you get people to get colonoscopies to avoid colon cancer.

paolo_06 karma

Yes, i agree. It s not as bad as it seems. As i mentioned, you are asleep while it gets done so it s completely painless.

I wouldn’t know how to get people to do it, but surely it has to be done since people turn 30. I would probably allow the health system to have a mandatory free examination every 2 years for people over 30 and once a year for people with cancer history in their families. In Australia, as soon as you turn 50, you get an sms with a reminder for a colonoscopy.

Agouti5 karma

I'm looking to do something very similar, so a few technical questions:

1) Did you buy the bike somewhere cheap or just take it with you from Australia?

2) How challenging was vehicle registration across borders? Did you need to keep it registered in the originating country?

3) Was an international SIM sufficient or did you need local SIM/satellite?

4) Any issues with poor quality fuel (thinking especially South America). I was planning on avoiding a modern high-performance bike because of concerns with low octane fuels.

paolo_09 karma

Good questions: Happy to answer any other technical ones in private if you need.

  1. I bought my bike in Australia, as I was living there and originally I just planned a trip around the continent. Then it escalated in a world tour.

  2. Bike has to be registered in the country or origin and needs to be kept registered yearly like you are in the country. Depending on which country you are crossing you may or may not need the famous “Carnet de passage”, aka your bike’s passport. Luckily the only 2 places were you need carnet are in Africa and south east Asia. The rest is just done easily at the border with your original documents and passport.

  3. There isn’t an international sim card that will work on all countries. Best solution is to buy local sim and/or rely on wifi (which is nowadays widely available). Alternatively you can buy a sat phone for safety but you ll still need gsm and data traffic for your social. Local sim cards are the cheapest and best way to deal with communications across countries.

  4. This is a concern I had too. My “old” 1190 had a bad fuel detection system that was cutting power to the engine when engaged electronically. Modern motorcycles have sensors that will detect bad fuel and automatically regulate themselves in case the octanes are too low. Cleaning the fuel filter regularly is a best practice to keep the engine safe. The KTM 1190 had 2 filters inside the pump so i just had to keep those checked every 30000. But yeah, fuel pump never failed and bike always worked to certain extents. Bolivia has by far the worst fuel quality. Probably less than 80 octanes. Peru (certain areas) is a close second. The rest any bike would handle it. No need to buy an old bike to be safe. That s a misconception in my opinion. Modern bikes are much more reliable.

cashonlyplz5 karma

Forgive my morbid fascination, but:

Did you and your friends grow up together? No family history of cancer and yet, you, like your friends, got cancer--what type of cancers did your friends end up developing?

I'm wondering about potential contamination at a water source or other nearby systems (uranium mine?)

Kudos to you for living. Colon cancer took my father when he was young (i just realized he was a year or so younger than I am now). Life is too short. Best wishes.

paolo_010 karma

I had no common factors with my friends. One was an australian guy of latvian heritage. Grew up there, and developed a super aggressive and inoperable skin cancer. Died in 3 months. The other one had brain cancer. Still australian, but grew up in the south. So totally different environments. I grew up in italy. We became friends when i moved to Australia. Many people chimed in after my outing and you would be amazed to see how many people have cancer or had to deal with it. Like yourself. The genetical and environmental factors are very much different. We don’t know why it happens.

DSMB5 karma

What were your favorite places that you traveled through? Where would you like to visit again?

And what about the worst?

paolo_014 karma

I already answered to this one. Check it out. The worse It was probably Belize. But not because of the land, but because the officials at the border gave me a bit of a issue in entering and I didn’t have time to explore the islands, which apparently are the best part. Spent only 2 days in it so you can imagine the slight disappointment. Quite an expensive country for central america too. People were nice and kind to me though.

mind_the_gap5 karma

Ciao Paolo! Im glad you are healthy again. The most unbelievable part of your story is that you had no issues with a Ktm!

Will you come back to Latin America? If you come to Guanajuato, Mexico we can ride together.

phatdoughnut4 karma

This! Ktm gang rise up! I was going to ask if he had to replace his fuel pump/filters at all cause it’s a known issue in the lc8’s. Should cross post to r/motorcycles this would be refreshing for all Of us.

paolo_06 karma

ah! in this sense yes, the fact that my 1190 never broke down and that after 200k km the engine was still in great conditions shocked both me and the KTM mechanics too!Never had an issue with the fuel pump per se. The outstanding issues were related to the 950 and 990 models. Not the 1190.I never had a problem with it seriously. I only had to replace the water pump gaskets after 80k km and again at 150k km. All the rubber parts were clearly worn out but that's normal! The engine was rock solid, even with all the bad fuel and bad engine oil I put in.

Truly an amazing motorcycle. I'm a big fan of the brand ever since.

jcfnls4 karma


paolo_04 karma


blackbird1634 karma

Not sure if someone asked this already, but were you and your friends living together at some point? I wonder if there could have possibly been something in the environment? For all 3 of you to have gotten cancer esp so young. I dread getting it so much. I'm sorry for all your loss and I'm happy ur recovering

paolo_03 karma

Yeah, it has been asked before.
No we didn't share anything. Just common friends.
We lived in different areas too and had different backgrounds too.
totally unrelated circumstances.

ne0nite3 karma

One of my life goals is to get a drivers license for motorcycle and take long adventure trips similar to yours.

I just started taking some driving lessons before the winter arrived, and love the feeling of driving a motorcycle, but I'm still not comfortable making tight turns in slow speed (5 km/h) without leaning the bike. Do you have any tips for a newbie on overcoming the fear of tipping the bike?

Congrats on kicking cancers ass!

paolo_04 karma

Aaaah, the early days of riding! :)
one tip is to get a bike you are comfortable with (low and not too powerful).
the easier it is to ride, the more comfortable will be for you to perform any maneuver.
Take your time to learn the basics with small motos, then gradually step into bigger and more powerful ones.
Don't rush and have fun!

ne0nite2 karma

Thanks, I really appreciate your reply! Since I'm taking the drivers license for "heavy motorcycles" I have to take lessons using a heavier bike (which I really like, a BWM FS750 GS), but I have also bought a 50cc to practice on privately, as I can drive it legally using my car drivers license.

Have you seen the documentary TV-series starring Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman? In the different seasons, they drive through different continents much like you. They wanted to use KTMs, but for some reason the company withdrew the sponsorship right before their trip, so they were sponsored by BWM instead with R1150GS. They drive through Europe in the first season, Africa in the second and from Argentina to the US in the third season. The third season has the best production quality and is available from Apple TV+.

paolo_05 karma

Good Choice! If you can, get a small 250, which is powerful enough but not too extreme. Those are usually one-cylinder based and very light.
Alternatively, the 50cc is a great one to practice anything, from corners to drifting, to small wheelies.
Going offroad with a dirt bike is also a good school.

circal8ion3 karma

Did you come across much crime, attempt crime, thievery, corruption and where? (I have a fear of countries known for to be not safe)

paolo_012 karma

Ironically enough I encountered the most crime in Milan, Italy, my very own city. In November I rode to Milan, parked my bike for 2 hours in an area I've never been, and I got my bike stolen.
Somebody stole my rusty tool bag, strapped on my bike one night in Vancouver, Canada.
Who would have thought that Canada and Italy would have been the two most dangerous countries I crossed?
Nobody ever touched anything else on and off my bike in 7 years of travelling.

Corruption is everywhere but it's in a reasonable amount.
It's common sense to know that in certain Latin countries, the police and border security have such a minimum wage that can be bribed with a few dollars to expedite procedures.

In terms of violent crime, I fear Brazil was probably the most dangerous one, but I never had any issues.

Little_Bedroom6 karma

Hahaha yeah Vancouver is awful for theft. On a business trip someone broke into our rental car and stole my coworkers banana. One singular banana. Vancouver sucks lol

paolo_05 karma

I didn't know but Vancouver has one of the highest populations of Junkies in north America. I started to look around and noticed that even the trash cans had locks on them. Apparently at night junkies dive into it and throw everything out trying to find something suitable to sell.

redrum2212 karma

Did you recover your bike?

paolo_06 karma

Nope. Bike was gone.
I'll never ride into Milan again.
We can have nice things.

redrum2213 karma

Sorry to hear that! Wishing you all good healing health. I'll be curious what you think if go to my wife's home country of Thailand of you ever make it there.

paolo_03 karma

Thailand is super safe. I lived there for few months back in 2008.
Loved it.

mahade3 karma

I've always figured that if I got the diagnosis of having cancer, I would probably think something along the lines of: "Great, this is the time for me to arrange all I can for my loved ones, get some kick-ass experiences in, while I can, then die of euthanasia," knowing that many people die every day without that (relative) luxury; so many people die of sudden aneurysms, heart attacks, murder, accidents, etc. I would probably not choose chemotherapy, I would only accept medical treatment if it was curable via surgery.

My question is: How did you decide to undergo medical treatment instead of just going out with a bang?

paolo_019 karma

The thing i was trying to point out is that one doesn’t have to wait to be diagnosed with a bad disease to live his/her life, arrange its affairs, etc. The right time to live all that is NOW. Statistics don’t lie unfortunately and 1/3 men will die of prostate/skin/colon cancer. 1/3 women of breast/colon cancer. It s just a metter of time I guess but the point is that medical treatment works. Until a certain extent. But it does stop the growth of it. I decided to undertake the radio-chemo therapy because it did shrink the tumor of a fair bit. Originally, when detected, it was 2 inches big (diameter). After radio and chemo it shrunk to 0.8. This resulted in a less invasive surgery. Because of this, i could opt for a procedure without the stoma bag. Even though the symptoms of chemo still persists after months, i m happy that the whole treatment stopped its growth.

LARPKING962 karma

I don’t have cancer, but as a 25yo who hates his job/lifestyle, I have been seriously considering living a lifestyle similar to the one you describe for the next 10 years, maybe longer. As a finance major and son of an accountant I feel like I also have a pretty good understanding of money management.

Now that you are cancer free, I’m sure your outlook on the future has changed some. Do you regret anything financially about all the money you spent? Is traveling the world all it’s hyped up to be in your opinion? If you could go back in time, would you do it all again, even if you didn’t have cancer?

I guess I’m just worried that I’ll still not be satisfied even if I spend the next 10 years traveling. And if that’s the case, then I mine as well just grind it out in my current lifestyle and retire asap.

Any input is appreciated. I’m sure some of this will be hard to answer but I thought I mine as well throw it out there.

paolo_08 karma

Hey there. No worries about answering this. Pretty straight forward as you already have a good financial understanding of money etc.

I am very proud of myself for having the courage to invest so much time and money in such a wonderful and life changing trip. I would never regret that.
What I regret instead, maybe, is to not having started investing at your age.
I wasted so much money in partying and shit-i-didn't-need for a decade, because of my financial ignorance.
It's a true statement that "travel is the money best spent". You'll never regret spending money on it, because it does change you and stay with you for the rest of your life.
And every age has a different output so when you travel at 20yo you have different results. When you travel at 30, another one.
I reckon that the best age to travel is between 29-35.
you are still young, strong, and savvy enough to enjoy things to the fullest and be very adaptable to situations.

The travelling life is very hype and it has been so for the past 10 years. You'll find all sort of individuals travelling the world, from the nicest one to the worst one, like a small society.
Unfortunately, despite of what one may think, the ratio is like 50-50. Meaning that there are a lot of shitty individuals out there that just want to become "insta-famous" or that think that they are famous because they have 100k followers.
These are interesting times to be alive.
There are very few that travel for the true sense of it.
My advice is to do so, only if you really need to travel...if you feel it as a necessity from the inside.
Do not waste your or anybody's time trying to become another one of these fake celebrities. There are no heroes anymore. Everything has been done. All roads have been ridden. All places have been explored. It's not a race, contrarily to what people think.
Travelling is for oneself and for oneself only. You gotta leave everything behind and forget where you come from, to be a traveller.
All the others are just tourists or people on a mission.

supulma2 karma

Any plans for Africa/+Asia?

paolo_07 karma

Yes!! Africa is next! Then across asia. This asia trip has been on my radar since 2020. Then pandemic hit and i had to stop. I had my visas and itinerary sorted already. I had to cancel because of the borders closure. Then i tried again and cancer happened. Going to try again as soon as i regain my strength.

mak17232 karma

With everything you have seen and done what would be your advice for a 17 year old?

paolo_06 karma

My best advice to you would be to seek financial aid. I wasted so much money because I didn’t know any different and because my parents never thought me anything about this or investing or taxes or loans… Starting a small investment fund at your age could mean financial independence at 30yo without any effort. Start spending your money towards your future even though your friends are into shoes and pimping cars. Do not trust any of those people on tiktok that tell you how to become rich. No real rich person is on tiktok sharing his secrets, trust me.

If you know somebody with lots of money, ask them if they can explain money, taxes and loans to you. This is one of the most important piece of info you could ever receive at your age.

The rest is entirely up to you, but as soon as you are out of the money making mindset, you are free.

newhereok2 karma

Can't find the video, but did you meet up with itchy boots somewhere in South America? I think I recognize you but not sure.

paolo_03 karma

I did not meet Noraly. I think we did not manage to run into each other. But i met people, on my way, who met her, so I think we weren’t far from each other while in South America

Fuzzycolombo2 karma

Ever thought about if potentially all that motorcycle riding could have contributed? Pretty sedentary activity

paolo_03 karma

I did. And enquired doctors about it. they discredited 100% of my hypothesis

mega_mang02 karma

Hi Paolo, I've been following your adventures for several years now via various platforms. Just wanted to say that as someone who does have a history of cancer in my family and having seen first hand that journey of coming to terms with it, I particularly found the way you have addressed it so openly online and your mental fortitude towards it really inspiring. One day I hope to ride a fraction of the adventure you have inspired me and many others to take. Do you have any plans you can reveal moving forward? And also how do you find being on the 890, I seem to remember on Insta you mentioned you didn't feel that much of a difference other than weight?

Big love and support, I look forward to continuing to follow your journey.

paolo_02 karma

Thanks a lot for tagging along mate.
My sole purpose of sharing this part of my adventure with others is to try to help out and normalize something so dark and taboo like the "C word".
I appreciate your support and your words of incouragement.

The 890 adv is a great machine.
I started to appreciate it more and more the capabilities of this new lighter and smaller motorcycle. It's clear that the lower tank design is a much better concept in terms of handling. Way better for long-distance traveling.
If the machine can help in some way to soothe the burden of the rider, that's the way to go.

rebornhatchethank1 karma

How often did your bike get stolen?

paolo_02 karma

In 7 years of travelling worldwide with all my belongings, my bike got stolen only once while parked for 2 hours in my very own city of Milan. Again, LIFE'S IRONY I guess


Do you spend time with your family or are you always on the road during holidays or certain time periods? After losing your friends, did it kind of create any motivation to start travelling, I’m assuming it did but can you describe how you felt?

paolo_02 karma

I ve been living overseas for half of my life so unfortunately I haven’t spent much time with my family. During radio and chemo i was alone in Sydney as my family couldn’t come to Australia to assist me during therapy. I did come back to Italy for surgery and i m now staying with them. I have a very small family and they are very supportive of my travels. They were worried and concerned at the beginning as I was leaving a stable job and security but the outcome after 7years of wandering has been so amazing that they were happy for me and got used to see me exploring the world. It is an atypical italian family i have to say. But we love and support each other. Especially during difficult times

My friends passing was the propeller for my need of exploring. They had a very normal life, successful, family oriented one. They had it all planned and in few months all their plans (and their families ones) were out the window. Hence, I didn’t want to end up the same.

Remember_Me_Tomorrow1 karma

Were you and your friends living in the same area? It could be something in the environment (water, waste, exposed to something etc.) that no one's found yet causing the cancer...I'm definitely no expert but I've read about stuff being in water that people didn't know about.

paolo_02 karma

No. They lived in different areas of Australia. Totally unrelated and different lifestyles too.

nanireddy231 karma

Did you ever ride a Royal Enfield ? They are pretty good for full time traveling. Also how is KTM 890?

paolo_02 karma

Hello! Nope, never rode a RE.
I heard they are pretty good indeed for long-distance traveling and for fuel consumption.
The 890 adv is, in many ways, the opposite of a RE: extremely powerful and performance-oriented.
I love it! In my opinion, as I've used these extensively too, they are super reliable and I will take one for my next long-distance trip.

Burnsymanila1 karma

What was your long distance motorcycle riding experience like before this epic journey? Had you done multi country trips before?

paolo_03 karma

I had no long distance moto experience beforehand. I just rode my bike around my neighbourhood for most of my life. I also never camped in my whole life. It was all a steep learning curve.

jakart3-2 karma

What cause your cancer?

paolo_08 karma

There s no cure for cancer, hence we don’t know what causes it. Modern medicine attributes the growth of cancer cells to two factors mainly: genetics (if one of your family members has cancer, you may get cancer too) and environmental factors (if your lifestyle is unhealthy)

lizabear853 karma

Do you drink? I worked in colorectal research. There is high correlation between drinking and colon cancer.

paolo_03 karma

I eliminated almost entirely alchool from my life since 2010. Maybe I had a beer a week or more.

kitchen_clinton3 karma

If you got colon cancer it started as little growths on the colon called polyps. When these grow and are not removed during a colonoscopy they can develop into cancer. Some can be mm in size and some others in cm. Colonoscopies prevent cancer of the colon.

paolo_04 karma

Correct. But if you don’t have symptoms and assume that you are fine, you ll never get a colonoscopy. Blood tests don’t show any signs. Once symptoms appears it’s too late.