Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Fountain couple exchanges vows as man recovers from heart cancer surgery

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Updated: May 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Robbie Zietz and Gabby Houser tearfully exchanged wedding vows Saturday in a ceremony at Fox Run Regional Park that almost didn't happen.

Just three weeks ago, Zietz was put into a medically induced coma after open-heart surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his heart.

"I'm just really glad we got to do this. I was really scared when he was in the hospital, he might not wake up. I have no regrets," Houser said after the brief ceremony the couple organized in the days after Zietz regained consciousness.

"I've know her for seven years and we've been engaged almost three years. It's about time" the wedding happened, Zietz said after vows were exchanged. "I went from the worst couple of weeks of my life to the best month of my life. Nothing can get me down at this point."

Zietz, 21, and Houser, 19, both Fountain natives, moved back to their hometown from Honolulu in March and he soon ended up in a hospital for what he thought was bronchitis. Doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his heart that had spread to his lungs. A surgeon removed the tumor April 19 and he has been in chemotherapy since then to treat the cancer in his lungs; he wore a small oxygen bottle over the shoulder of his tuxedo jacket on Saturday to help him breathe.

"The surgeon said he didn't know how blood was pumping through his (Zietz's) heart. If he had gone a couple of more hours without treatment, it could have been fatal," Houser said. "The doctor said he could live a very long time after (the surgery). I know that he will be fine."

Zietz and Houser decided to schedule the ceremony for Saturday after a vision of his late grandmother, a cancer victim, that he had when he was comatose for several days.

"I thought I was asleep for 24 hours, but it turned out to be five days. I sat down and talked to my grandmother in this big, white room that looked like the operating room and she told me that it would be okay and I would have two kids and we should get married right away," Zietz said.

Cancer has given Zietz a new perspective on life, he said.

"Most people have a horrible life after cancer. It has helped bring my family closer and changed the way I think about," Zietz said. "I used to be pretty angry. This has made me slow down, think about what I want to do and think about everybody else and their perspective. I have become a lot happier person."

Many of the guests at the ceremony were wearing leather vests emblazoned with the logo of the Sons of Silence, the Colorado Springs-based motorcycle club that counts Robert Zietz Sr., the groom's father, as a long-time member. Leonard Ray Shipley, the club's former national president, officiated at the ceremony, opening by lightheartedly asking if anyone had a "complaint," and suggesting they could "address to the groom's father and his associates, and may they rest in peace."

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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