Stab Magazine | How A Fin To The Skull Might Have Saved Trav McCoy's Life

How A Fin To The Skull Might Have Saved Trav McCoy’s Life

A blessing in disguise. 

Words by stab

Surfing biggish waves is scary. 

They can push you down, beat you up, and will often leave you within striking distance of a rock or reef floor. Despite these pitfalls, Travis McCoy has always enjoyed the thrill of heavier surf, especially in Indonesia or around his home in New Zealand.

If you didn’t watch the video above, here’s a quick recap: After a four-month stint as a surf guide in the Ments, Trav returned home to work his “normal” job as a beekeeper. A few days after his arrival, Travis arranged with a friend to tow-surf a heavy wave near home. On the fifth wave of his session, Trav fell and caught a fin to the forehead, resulting in a bone-baring gash (below).

The doctors feared Trav’s injury could be worse than what was outwardly visible, so they performed a brain scan to look for internal bleeding or other potential issues. While the scan didn’t find anything relating to the injury, it did reveal a 3 centimeter mass in the meat of Trav’s noggin. 

We caught up with Trav to see how he’s doing. 

Stab: Wow man, that clip brought us through a range of emotions. We were stoked, then grossed out, then terrified, then uplifted but still slightly terrified. When did this happen and do you have any news?
Trav McCoy: Yeah, it happened about a month ago. With the mass, basically I have two options: either they can drill into my brain for a biopsy (which incurs a decent amount of risk, including the potential that Trav might have to forfeit his right to drive a car for an entire year), or I can wait a few months and get a new scan to see if it’s grown, shrunk, or stayed the same size. If it does get bigger, I’d be forced to get it removed, which would put me at risk of paralyzation on one side of my body. The tumor is sitting on one my major nerve endings, or whatever…

Jeez, that’s awful. What have you chosen to do?
I’ve decided to just wait for now and check back in a few months. I’m trying not to think about it for the time being.

Ah, sorry for bringing it up! But your video seems to have a positive message despite the shitty hand you’ve been dealt. Tell me about that.
Well I’m lucky the doctors even found this thing in my head. If it weren’t for the fin cut, I never would have known the tumor was there. So I’m fortunate in that sense, but also because I’ve lived a really fulfilling life. I appreciate all the love and support people have given me, but I agreed to this interview to show people that you never know what’s around the corner. I will survive this — I know it — but if it had been worse and I had be given only so long to live, then at least in my short life I chased the waves I dreamed of as a grommet. 

That’s really good to hear. I’ve been blowing most of my money on surf trips, so it’s nice to feel validated. Anything else you we should know? 
If anyone can take anything from my story, let it be this: If you dream of doing something and going to these amazing places, then work your ass off and make time to do it. You can’t buy time, youth, or health. This has been a massive wake-up call and I will keep chasing waves all over the globe as long as I can. 

We’ll see you in the lineup someday, mate. Beers are on us.  



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