‘For better or for worse.’ When they say their marriage vows, no bride and groom would expect the stark reality to hit within days. But that’s how the cards fell for Travis and Ellie.
The Abels were married in 2012, and within a few days Travis fell severely ill and was admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital needing urgent treatment. Doctors diagnosed leukaemia, and to make matters worse, the severe symptoms of the blood cancer had also led Travis to have a stroke.
Unable to speak, paralysed on the right side, and battling cancer, Travis was in a bad way. Several times, waiting by his side in ICU, Ellie was told to say her final goodbyes. It was a whirlwind of hope, fear, technology, medication, farewells, tears and sheer determination.
Travis survived months of extensive treatment in various wards of our hospital including ICU, the Cancer Centre and Rehabilitation and others. Travis had to learn how to walk and talk, and even how to eat, again. After more than two years of treatment, Travis was discharged late last year.
In March he came back to St Vincent’s for his first six-monthly check-up, not just with his wife Ellie, but also with their 7-weeks-old daughter Sophia.
The check-up went well with doctors confirming that Travis is certainly on the mend despite the lingering physical disabilities caused by the stroke.
Travis still struggles to speak, but wanted to say thank you to all the medical staff and nurses who cared for him during his treatment.
‘Words can’t describe it,’ he said, looking at his wife, waiting for Ellie to elaborate.
‘They were there for you in those worst nights,’ Ellie said, stepping into the verbal breach with practiced ease. ‘They would come and check on you… that in itself made those bad days a little bit better because you know you have that support.’
‘I remember one of the surgeons one night he came into the room and he said: ‘we’re in a bit of strife’ and I must not have taken it very well, he came and hugged me… and you don’t get that much from surgeons.’
‘Thank you for never giving up.’