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Meet the woman travelling the world with a cardboard cut-out….


MELBOURNE – Friday 10th May 2019 - In May 2016, Michelle Bourke lost her husband of 25 years to melanoma. After a long battle that spanned nearly 8 years Paul finally died peacefully at home surrounded by Michelle and their children. Even in the final weeks of his life Paul still retained his razor sharp wit, humour and tenacity for all that life had to offer. During this time Paul and Michelle grieved together and had many discussions what had been and what would be missed. One day Paul asked Michelle what she would do once he was gone, and she promised she would carry out their life long plan to travel the world – but with him alongside her… as a cardboard cut-out. Michelle did exactly that and has now written a book about her experiences called #travellingwithcardboardpaul. The story is a heart warming tale about love, laughter and friendship and is due to launch at Paul’s beloved Carlton Football Club this month on Saturday 25th May.

On her travels Michelle met many people curious about the cardboard cut-out; touching complete strangers with her story and along the way discovering her true self, changing her own life forever. The book challenges the preconceived notions of how people experience and deal with grief. #travellingwithcardboardpaul is a wonderful demonstration of how life goes on and doesn’t stop when our loved ones leave us, as well as being a wonderful gesture to honour her husband. During this her journey Michelle not only created life long memories for herself but also for the many people who crossed her path across the globe.

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world and melanoma is often referred to as 'Australia's national cancer'. Almost 14,000 Australians were expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017 according to the Melanoma Institute of Australia, with 1 in 14 men and 1 in 24 women to be diagnosed with melanoma sometime in their life time. While 90% of people with melanoma can be cured by having the primary melanoma removed through surgery, in the other 10% of cases, life-threatening spread will have already occurred.

The book’s launch coincides with National Palliative Care Week. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2019 held from the 19-25 May 2019 is ‘What matters most?’. National Palliative Care Week is a national week supported by the Department of Health to raise awareness and understanding about palliative care in the Australian community. The theme addresses the need for Australians to plan ahead for their end-of-life care and discuss it with their loved ones and health professionals. The palliative care service was central to Paul’s death at home for Michelle and Paul, and Paul was cared for by palliative care workers in his own home until his death.

Michelle says, “I am extremely blessed that I could honor my promise to Paul by travelling with him as a cardboard cutout around the world. I am also grateful that I was able to share this experience with the complete strangers I met on this journey, and in doing so, changing my life and creating wonderful memories. I am very excited that I can share the experience of my travels by launching my new book #travellingwithcardboardpaul and show that life does continue no matter what, even when losing a loved one. Life is far too serious; so to bring laughter and fun back into my life and the lives of others, especially after the loss of Paul, has been an amazing experience.”

#travellingwithcardboardpaul gives readers an inspiring tale of one woman’s promise to her husband on his deathbed to live out their dream. She not only honoured that promise but reinvented herself and her life along the way in one of the most difficult periods of her life.

The book is now available for purchase from Michelle’s website .

About the Author

Michelle Bourke is a storyteller who writes about true life – from losing her beloved husband, Paul, to cancer to recreating her life without him by her side. Michelle was born and raised in Melbourne and married her soul mate in 1991. They raised their two children in their home in Taylors Lakes.

After Paul’s death in May 2016, Michelle wrote Conversations with Paul, a story about a journey of love, heartache, frustration and determination whilst facing a loved one’s terminal illness.

Michelle has travelled around the world with a cardboard cut-out of Paul, keeping promises and writing stories of her amazing experiences.

Her ability to be real and authentic whilst honouring Paul’s memory and keeping true to herself has inspired the many people she has met. Michelle has been called courageous but remains humble in all that she does.

To connect with or learn more about Michelle, visit:




Michelle Bourke is available for interview by arrangement. To arrange an interview, attend the book launch or request a review copy of the book - please contact Aisling Brady (nee Gilhooly) - Publicist on M: 0424 520 345 or E:

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