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HELEN MACFARLANE ALLISON RSW, SRFN, SRN, BA, BSW, MSWSend Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
HELEN MACFARLANE ALLISON RSW, SRFN, SRN, BA, BSW, MSW 1927 2017 Healer, Warrior, Storyteller Some lives are touched by themes that are larger than life itself. So was the case for Helen Allison, who dedicated her courageous energy, skill and love, to alleviate the suffering of the chronically and seriously ill. Gifted with healing hands and a caregiving heart, Helen was born in Scotland to an altruist poet mother and a millwright father. In the Second World War, at the tender age of 12, Helen barely survived the Clydebank bombings that obliterated her town, killing thousands of friends and neighbours. The crises continued as post-war Scotland suffered staggering loss of life from outbreaks of tubercular meningitis, diphtheria, and other contagious disease. It was during this time, and without hesitation, that Helen, just 17 years old, trained as a nurse and found her calling. Helen's nursing skills together with her intimate experience of war-time destruction, disease and loss, resulted in a profound perspective on human suffering. For the rest of her life, Helen drew on this deep understanding to help patients and families. In 1974, Helen was invited to coordinate, as head nurse, Canada's very first palliative care unit at St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg. She went on to expand her mastery of nursing with medical social work, sharing her knowledge and gifts at other palliative units in Western Canada. As senior author, she shared her wisdom in the book, "Social Work Services as a Component of Palliative Care with Terminal Cancer Patients". Despite such busy days, Helen, together with Walter, her bag-pipe-playing engineer husband, raised four happy, healthy children in a home full of music, laughter and poetry. Helen always said she would die with her boots on. True to her words, she never stopped advocating for those who suffered. In retirement, she was invited to join a specialized clinic in Vancouver treating patients with unremitting pain. For decades, cards of gratitude from patients and families covered the mantelpiece of her home, testament to the positive impact Helen had on the lives of so many. Just a year before her death, Helen published a passionate plea to revive the medical art of care in her book, "Stay, Breathe with Me: The Gift of Compassionate Medicine". The IAHPC (International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care), named it a book of the month, calling it "remarkable", with "little pearls of sound clinical wisdom on just about every page" that showed what "palliative care is really all about". The theme of Helen's life and work was to bring compassionate medicine to all those in need, a message that is more important than ever. The family would like to thank Dr. Kiraninder Lamba for his unfailing dedication and person-centered care, as well as his wonderful staff. Donations to the Children's Wish Foundation. Wojcik's Funeral Chapels & Crematoriums, Winnipeg, 2157 Portage Avenue, 204.897.4665 www.wojciksfuneralchapel.com
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 30, 2017
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