Chance meeting with neighbor in Fargo leads to surprise cancer diagnosis

A Fargo woman's chance encounter during a walk perhaps saved her life. The couple wanted to share their story this week because it is National Cancer Prevention Month.

PKG.Still001 (1).jpg
Nicki Hulse and her husband Dean Hulse talk about the chance meeting with a Fargo neighbor that led to medical scan and a shocking diagnosis.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

FARGO — It was a north Fargo stroll down the sidewalk that led Dean and Nicki Hulse, to stop and chat with a neighbor they barely knew.

"We were out for a walk — we walk all the time — (and) it was just a chance meeting," Nicki Hulse said. "We were walking through the Hornbacher's parking lot."

"Five minutes either way, we wouldn't have met each other," said Dean Hulse.

The conversation circled around to health, women, the theme of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Day, and bringing awareness about women and heart disease. The chat later led to Nicki Hulse getting a heart scan, which uncovered a lung cancer diagnosis.

"You never hear of people saying, 'Oh, I wish I would have found out about this later,' it's always, 'I wish it would have been detected earlier,'" Nicki Hulse said.


"Never had a cigarette in my life, so I was kind of surprised to have lung cancer," Nicki Hulse said.

She had no symptoms, and her surgery is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 6. The cancer was caught at the right time all because of a sidewalk stroll and a chance chat with a neighbor.

Nicki and Dean Hulse know timing was everything. A few moments earlier and later, they might have missed that talk.

"We'd be sitting here thinking everything's hunky-dory," Dean Hulse said.

"(W)e had walked by her house several times and we'd just said 'hi' and didn't even exchange names ever," Nicki Hulse said.

That day, a few minutes made all the difference.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email:
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
What To Read Next
Get Local