Courage to Come Back physical rehabilitation award recipient fights for other victims of crime

CityNews' John Ackermann sits down with the five winners of the 2023 Courage to Come Back awards.

Ten years after a crash that left her with life-changing injuries, Patricia Henman continues to forge ahead — not just for herself, but for others too. Henman is the 2023 Courage to Come Back award recipient for Physical Rehabilitation.

“I really had to learn to accept this new body,” she admitted.

Henman lives in a small town in the Kootenays. She and her daughter were halfway home from an eight-hour road trip when they were struck head-on by an impaired driver outside Cranbrook. That crash resulted in a multi-year legal odyssey through ICBC and the courts.

She first shared that story in a 2021 memoir.

Read more: Beyond The Legal Limit: Surviving a Collision with a Drunk Driver

Then there are the injuries she still lives with today.

“Many broken bones. My left shoulder and my left ankle and my right wrist — those were the main fractures,” she recalled. “Those are the three that still give me a lot of trouble.”

A singer and an actress before the crash, the tubes doctors pushed down Henman’s throat to save her life also damaged her vocal cords. She also lost a section of her intestine and one-third of her stomach.

And then there are the mental scars.

“Part of this anxiety and trauma and PTSD [are] the dreams that you have. My dreaming is a lot about being in the hospital. I can’t sleep anymore without earplugs because hospitals are so loud,” she said.

Henman has also struggled with depression. However, she finds therapy in advocating for others, particularly victims of crime like her.

“The focus isn’t on you so much anymore. You can use what you went through to help others to get to the point where you are,” she explained.

“I think once you make that decision that you want to advocate for others who have been in a similar situation, it does several things for you in your recovery process. I could either sit around and wallow in my pain and grief and despair and loss, or I could find out how to make this work in a whole other way, a positive way that not only helps me but, in the long run, is helping someone else.”

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Henman gets emotional when she thinks about how far she has come in the 10 years since the crash, which makes receiving the Courage to Come Back Award that much more special.

“It is worth everything we have fought for to get better to be recognized now,” she said.

Sadly, a few weeks after her interview with CityNews came the worst news of all. Henman’s daughter, Maia, still battling her own chronic pain and severe PTSD, passed away on May 26 from an accidental drug overdose. She was 29 years old.

CityNews is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Awards, celebrating 25 years of raising critical funds for British Columbians living with mental illness.

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