Har­vey shares her pain and of­fers some ad­vice

Ellenbrook Advocate - - NEWS -

AL­MOST two years have passed since the death of Deputy Pre­mier Liza Har­vey's hus­band Hal, yet the pain is still ev­i­dent when she talks about him.

Hal Har­vey was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal pan­cre­atic can­cer in 2011, and Ms Har­vey de­scribed the pain of watch­ing his fi­nal weeks as “ab­so­lute tor­ture”.

Mr Har­vey, who died in 2014, fought the dis­ease with a zeal his wife de­scribed as “de­nial­ist”.

“He was ab­so­lutely de­fi­ant,” Ms Har­vey

“I think up un­til the day he died, Hal did not be­lieve he was go­ing to die.

“That’s kind of a gift, but it makes it very dif­fi­cult for fam­ily when you’ve got a per­son who has that kind of at­ti­tude.”

Ms Har­vey de­scribed an in­ci­dent three weeks be­fore her hus­band passed away, when a friend vis­ited him in hos­pi­tal in his new car.

“Hal got on the phone to me and said ‘I’ll be back at some point, but I’m just go­ing down to Fre­man­tle for a cof­fee with Richard in his new Lo­tus’,” she said.

“But that’s who he was, he was just de­ter­mined to do what he wanted to do and not have can­cer de­fine him.”

Ms Har­vey is the pa­tron of Pal­lia­tive Care WA, a not­for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that aims to raise aware­ness and help peo­ple ad­dress life-lim­it­ing con­di­tions, dy­ing, grief and loss.

She wants to use her pro­file to raise aware­ness of Pal­lia­tive Care WA and prompt peo­ple to have ma­ture con­ver­sa­tions about how they want to face their end.

“There’s a big mis­un­der­stand­ing in the com­mu­nity about what pal­lia­tive care is about,” Ms Har­vey said.

“Most peo­ple think of pal­lia­tive care and they think it’s about those last few weeks of life and in ac­tual fact it’s not.

“It’s about find­ing a point when you’re un­well, or even when you’re well, think­ing about ‘what are the qual­i­tyof-life de­ci­sions that I want to be mak­ing?’

“If I’ve got a ter­mi­nal ill­ness, how do I want to man­age that ter­mi­nal ill­ness so that I’ve got qual­ity of life and I’m in the best place to ful­fil the prom­ises and the wishes and the dreams.”

Ms Har­vey wishes she and her hus­band had en­gaged the ser­vices of pal­lia­tive care agen­cies sooner.

“We should have had a pal­lia­tive care spe­cial­ist at the be­gin­ning of the dis­ease so that we could have a good, ro­bust con­ver­sa­tion,” she said.

“My hus­band may never have en­gaged with the pal­lia­tive care spe­cial­ists be­cause of the way he was wired.”

Pal­lia­tive Care WA hosts a non-de­nom­i­na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tive ser­vice each year for those who have lost ones to seek com­fort in the ex­pe­ri­ences of oth­ers who have ex­pe­ri­enced a sim­i­lar loss. Ms Har­vey said she wasn’t sure what to ex­pect be­fore at­tend­ing her first com­mem­o­ra­tion.

“It was such a beau­ti­ful ser­vice,” she said.

“There were a lot of peo­ple there who are at var­i­ous dif­fer­ent stages of grief.

“It was re­ally use­ful for me to be able to meet some of those peo­ple.

“You feel like ev­ery­thing should stop, be­cause you’ve had such a cat­a­strophic oc­cur­rence in your life.

“The com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vices are a good way to con­nect with peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that as well.”

This year’s ser­vice is on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 16 at UWA’s Winthrop Hall, from 3.30pm to 6pm.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the an­nual com­mem­o­ra­tion, visit https://an­nual com­mem­o­ra­tion2016.eventbrite.com.au.

Liza Har­vey

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