The seeds of Inked and Abroad were planted in hospital. Before every round of chemotherapy or bone marrow biopsy I let my mind wander. It left my weak, frail body and soared through imagination. Stopping in a quiet backstreet of Paris under the watchful gaze of Gustaf Eiffel’s tower. Drifting down the Nile in a traditional Felucca. Trekking through dense jungle somwhere in the Amazon. These fantastic imaginary journeys from my hospital bed blocked out my pain and fear. They saved me, by sending me around the world, without ever leaving my room.

But, like all stories. There had to be an end. And after 244 days fighting cancer, I was sent home. Released back into a world that had not waited for me while I was gone. After duelling with the devil for so long, the fight was called off. As I left the prison of ill-health, carrying physical, mental and emotional scars that would never heal it was clear that no knock-out blow was landed. But I’d like to think I won on points.

I struggled to find happiness and meaning after it was all over. I felt like a ghost. My soul had been broken. For lack of a better expression, I was dying to live.

But those broken pieces of my soul, well it turned out they weren’t lost forever. Because they’d travelled around the world in every fantasy I’d had. With every imaginary journey to far-flung corners of the globe they had come with me. But, they had stayed there while I was dragged back to the fight. They weren’t lost forever. Just waiting. Deposited in every exotic location I’d spent dreaming about while cancer and I fought the ultimate fight. Scattered all over the world. Waiting for me. And I vowed, if they wouldn’t come to me, then I’d go and find them myself.

And that’s how this blog came to be. As I found a little bit more of my soul with every journey. Chronicling my second chance at life. Finally, putting the broken pieces of myself back together.

Because if the bell rings and I have to resume my fight again someday, I made a promise to myself. I will have a story worth telling.

And that’s what this blog is about. I write about travel, but I’m not a travel blogger. You might get some tips worth taking with you on your next trip. You’re just as likely to get a story offering nothing about your chosen destination beyond a few laughs. Because with every journey to find those pieces of my soul, I came back feeling just that little bit more alive. And, I came back with a story. That’s what you’ll find here.

I’m a storyteller. A tattooed traveller and teller of tales.

Whether I’m adding to my collection of tattoos. Doing something I’m proud of. Or something I should confess. I’m no longer a cancer sufferer. And I’m more than a cancer survivor.

I am…Inked and Abroad


I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) at the age of 20. I started the first of 7 rounds of chemotherapy a few days before Christmas, 2008. While days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, I fought a physical and mental war that took it’s toll. While my friends celebrated their 21st’s throughout the year, I fought an aggressive illness that takes too many, with a 5 year survival rate of just 26%.

After 244 days in hospital I was told I was in remission and sent home. I never lost hope, but somewhere along the way I had lost meaning. In the maelstrom of my fight I’d lost sight of my purpose here on Earth, or maybe I never had one. It felt like my soul had been broken up and scattered beyond my reach. I’d lost my happiness. It was only when I took my first tentative steps back into the world during a brief trip to New Zealand that I realised the joy that had escaped me for so long was out there, every time I travelled, in the world. And if it wasn’t going to come to me, I would go and find it myself.

Because I’m more than a survivor. I don’t just want to survive. I want to thrive. I want to chase down happiness in every corner of the globe. I want to live a thousand lives by seeking the pieces of my soul that went missing all those years ago, so that when my time comes I will have heard infinite voices around the world to help me scream at the universe, “It was all worth it”.

To borrow a quote that fuels my search for meaning, “Time is something that cannot be bought. Cannot be wagered. And is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

This collection of stories is how I live my life.

This is my journey at finding happiness after the chaos.

At finding meaning in the madness.

Thank you for being a part of it.

Yours in time,

Alexander Joseph