Katie Marhsall (right) refused chemo so she could go travelling with her partner Nicola Rowbotham (Image: Round the World Magazine / SWNS)

Our free email newsletter sends you the biggest headlines from news, sport and showbiz

Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid Email

A woman who was diagnosed with cancer twice at the age of 34  says the double blow prompted her to go on a trip of a lifetime.

Katie Marshall, now 36, was diagnosed with skin cancer in January 2018 but was given more devastating news when doctors found she also had breast cancer just three months later.

Katie and her partner Nicola Rowbotham, 33, who love to travel, were on a 4,000 mile road trip in the US at the time and had to return to Manchester for urgent surgery to remove the tumour in May 2018.

Katie refused chemotherapy following the surgery, which she said was "more terrifying" than the cancer diagnosis.

The couple then saved up money so they could quit their jobs and travel the world – finally landing in Canada in March 2020.

Katie Marshall (left) was diagnosed with skin cancer and then three months later breast cancer
(Image: Round the World Magazine / SWNS)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Family's bid to take brave girl, 5, suffering from untreatable tumour to Disneyland

Read More
Related Articles


  • 'Selfless and incredible' mum dies from breast cancer leaving behind five children

Katie, from Hattersley, Cheshire, said: "When I got my diagnosis, the thought of chemotherapy was more terrifying than the diagnosis itself.

"I had a very supportive oncologist who was there to answer all of my concerns. I was offered chemo because of my age and because my breast cancer was aggressive.

"I had surgery to remove the tumour and had an agonising wait for a number of results from the biopsy that lasted around three months.

"They found a lesion on my spine and I was tested for bone cancer. Fortunately that came back negative – they found a micrometastasis which is a small collection of cancer cells from the original tumour.

"That was successfully removed but it was petrifying to think that I might die at 34.

The couple arrived in Canada hoping to travel from Oregon to California
(Image: Round the World Magazine / SWNS)

"Ever since the trauma of being twice diagnosed with cancer, three months apart, I struggled with anxiety and insomnia for around a year.

"I now see the trauma of the whole experience as a gentle steer into living freely on the road, hopefully for the rest of my days.

Since touching down in Canada the couple have been living in a campervan in the Canadian wilderness without internet, WiFi or electricity for eight months.

Katie said she has "never felt more alive" than she does now and only needs to go for check-ups twice a year to make sure the tumour hasn't grown.

The trip has seen the couple go dog sledding in the Arctic Circle, to dodging lava from the erupting Fuego Volcano in Guatemala
(Image: Round the World Magazine / SWNS)

The couple, both former IT analysts hoped Canada would be the first of many stops in their travels.

Katie said: "We had plans to drive our camper down to Oregon and California – eight months later, we're still there due to the coronavirus pandemic."

"During this time, we have not had internet access, electricity or running water."

The women quit their corporate jobs and fancy apartment so they could have the experience of a lifetime
(Image: Round the World Magazine / SWNS)

The couple met in 2010 at a house party in Newcastle and have visited 36 different countries and travelled more than 200,000 miles together since 2015.

They have gone from dog sledding in the Arctic Circle, to dodging lava from the erupting Fuego Volcano in Guatemala.

Nicola, from Hartlepool, Teeside, said: "When we had corporate jobs and a fancy apartment, we filled every room with enormous world maps.

"The travel bucket list was ever-growing and we knew five weeks of annual leave wasn't going to cut it so we arranged for a leave of absence from work to sample the traveling life and we have never looked back since."