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Nelson's Pat Henman receives Courage To Come Back Award

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 13th, 2023

Coast Mental Health Foundation has awarded Patricia Henman of Nelson as one of the recipients of the Courage to Come Back Awards.

Henman is a recipient in one of the five Courage To Come Back Awards — Physical Rehabilitation — category.

“I refuse to live my life as a victim,” Henman said.

“I picked myself up, fought to have my body be as strong as it can be, and reconnected with my passion in the arts to the extent I can. I thrive on mentoring others. I share my story, so others are not alone in their grief and darkness.”

In 2013, Henman was involved in a serious accident in the East Kootenay when a serial drunk driver drove directly into her car, shattering bones and crushing her internal organs.

At the time of the accident, Henman, riding with her daughter Maia, was an active member of her community, accomplished singer, actress and mother.

Henman was declared clinically dead twice, four cardiac arrests and had 19 surgeries. Most of her bowels were removed. She spent weeks in a coma, months in hospital and was unable to eat or drink for eighteen months.

At hospital and worried for Maia who was also in the crash, Henman could no longer bear to listen to music and didn’t know if she would ever be able to sing or perform again — she was stuck in her own world with no relief.

Returning home was the beginning of Henman’s slow health recovery, each day filled with therapy, doctors, blood tests, needles, occupational therapists, and voice pathologists.

But it also marked the start of legal and insurance nightmares, forcing her to relive the trauma and fend off implications of guilt.

Today, Henman still lives with the physical and emotional consequences, but is determined to be creative and make a difference.

After extensive voice and physical training, she returned to the stage.

She published an inspirational memoir; ‘Beyond the Legal Limit’, which has been turned into a one-woman theatre performance.

Henman is a passionate advocate and speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and is on the Pacific Regional Victim’s Advisory Committee. She also continues to serve the arts community, sitting on numerous boards and volunteering her time as part of the British Columbia Arts Council.

Henman always served her community and continues to do so.

Henman refuses to live her life as a victim and shares her story so that others are not alone in their grief and darkness.

Read an extract from Henman’s speech on Friday during the presentation ceremony:

You now know that my middle child, Maia, who endured and survived the crash of June 9, 2013, has now left this world. This nightmare began that Sunday afternoon, ten years ago today. You saw her beautiful face on the screen, and she looked fine, but she wasn’t. She suffered from PTSD and chronic body pain due to her injuries. Maia was brilliant, a double major in English and Education. Her students loved her. One student says she was ‘ a kind, passionate, strong, dedicated and generous person”. That is who she was. But she also silently suffered. Prescription drugs led to a dependency that she worked on every day to control and leave in the past. She lost the fight two weeks ago.

I will continue to advocate for safe roads, to stop impaired driving, because that is the real reason Maia is not with us today.

The annual Courage to Come Back Awards recognize people who have overcome illness, adversity, or addiction and who have “come back” and “give back” to their communities.

Each year hundreds of people are nominated to receive a Courage Award in one of five categories — Addiction, Medical, Mental Health, Physical Rehabilitation or Youth.

Volunteer teams of health professionals and community leaders review all nominations, participate on a facilitated selection panel, and choose one recipient in each category to be honoured with the Courage To Come Back Award.

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