Lifelong Royal: The story of Bill Markell
As a teenager, Bill Markell played junior hockey for the Cornwall Royals. In adulthood, he continued to be athletic and upbeat, later marrying Brenda, raising a family, and becoming a proud grandfather.
Bill was healthy and strong until 2020, at the height of the pandemic, when he was diagnosed with rectal cancer. He quickly lost half his body weight and was a shadow of his former self at just 119 pounds.
When he arrived at Bruyère's Saint-Vincent Hospital, his physician described him as immobile, emaciated, and frail. For months, he required blood transfusions, IV antibiotics, and daily wound care to stabilize his condition.
He relied heavily on safety lifts, machines that significantly decreased his chronic pain, to help him move around, allowing him to regain his sense of independence.
For Bill, the most challenging thing during this time was not being able to see his family. Due to COVID-19 and visitation restrictions early in the pandemic, he could only visit with his wife Brenda and no one else.
Although he spent many hours on the phone with his wife and kids, with staff connecting him to his family virtually, the nurses recognized the void Bill felt.
Bill says staff members took the time to get to know him and crack a few jokes to lighten his spirits: "From the nursing to the housekeeping staff, they all took time to get to know me. And even though they were so busy, the nursing team surprised me on my birthday with a cupcake and Happy Birthday."
Bill went through a long and arduous medical journey, with months of hard work to be able to sit up or walk on his own. During this time, our care team focused on celebrating small victories in Bill's journey: a wound closing, his appetite improving, sitting up on his own, gaining weight, and, finally, walking.
"The doctor and all the staff were so good at lifting my spirits that I didn't fully realize just how bad things were until much later when I recovered," Bill recalls.
When Bill was discharged, he had gained not only all his weight back but also his positive outlook on life.
"I was treated like royalty, and I think that's how they treat everyone at Bruyère. It made me want to put my best foot forward and encourage others going through challenges whenever possible."
Today, Bill is back home in Kanata with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and has a renewed sense of appreciation for those around him.