On October 19, 2009, our lives changed forever when Travis asked me to be his wife. In the years since we’ve celebrated our “engageaversary” each year with great joy and had planned to do the same in 2016. But, instead of enjoying a nice sushi dinner we found ourselves in an emergency room as doctors worked to assess whether or not Travis was having a stroke.
For weeks something had not been right but neither of us could figure out exactly what was wrong, and on October 19th things were suddenly worse. Travis couldn’t find the words he wanted to say and his sentences turned into incoherent babble. When the doctor said “brain tumor,” neither of us even flinched. Everything made sense, but our lives would again be forever changed on October 19th.
From the moment he received the diagnosis of brain cancer, Travis has faced it with an incredible sense of humor. When the neurosurgeons rattled off the list of possible surgical complications that “less than 5% of patients” encounter, Travis asked “what percentage of patients come out of surgery with super powers?” Just like all the other complications they jokingly assured us that the sudden acquisition of super powers occurred in “less than 5% of patients.”
Travis was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital for a tumor removal operation on November 2nd. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that they expected him to spend no more than 3-5 days as an inpatient. That seemed too good to be true for brain surgery, and for us it turned out to be. All those complications that “less than 5% of patients” get, Travis seemed to get all of them. An unexpected bleed, excessive swelling in his brain, seizures, low blood counts requiring multiple transfusions, and the list goes on. One surgery turned into three and 3-5 days as an inpatient turned into several weeks in the neuro ICU.
With each new complication his doctors prepared me for the worst, but Travis pulled through each one like it was nothing more than a speed bump. When he finally woke up, it happened to be in time to celebrate his birthday. His beard was overgrown from nearly three weeks without a shave, and patchy from having chunks of hair pulled out by surgical tape. For his birthday he had one request from his nurse, Alex, who apparently also moonlighted as a barber – “I want to look like the Wolverine.”
It was more than just a new look. You see, despite the complications he had encountered, Travis had seemingly also acquired super powers – the super healing and super strength of the Wolverine—when he needed them most. While I had secretly been hoping for the power of flight or perhaps telekinesis, the hope that
comes with watching a cancer patient exhibit the power of super healing strength is beyond words.