Why I Give: CPO1 Hardy
By Margaret Conway, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax Public Affairs
Have you ever met someone who was married in a hospital? I hadn’t until I met CFB Halifax Administration Unit Chief CPO1 Ed Hardy.
Twelve years ago, CPO1 Hardy and his spouse Nathalie stood face-to-face at the IWK children’s hospital. CPO1 Hardy’s best ‘man’ was a nurse who’d just started her shift; Nathalie’s maid of honour was another nurse working in the same unit. With the minister from their church present, and with two rings that had been picked out and delivered by a family member, the two were married in the simplest of ways.
At the time of their union, however, CPO1 Hardy and Nathalie were facing the most challenging time in their lives. They wanted to be married in the presence of their two daughters, and had already been planning a formal ceremony. Unfortunately, a scary medical prognosis meant that their youngest daughter might not live to witness that special day. A wedding at the hospital allowed CPO1 Hardy and Nathalie to exchange their vows, as they’d wished, with their two daughters by their side.
Not long before they were married in that hospital room, their three-month-old daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with a rare liver disease. Her diagnosis was followed by seven months of continuous hospitalization during which she endured in excess of 90 blood transfusions, 13 surgeries, a transplant, and two airplane trips between their home in Halifax and a hospital in London, Ontario.
“During [those seven months] in the hospital and support centres, the amount of support we received from outside agencies was amazing,” explains CPO1 Hardy. He also makes special mention of the help he and Nathalie received from their families and the incredible care shown by the Defence community as they – both CAF members at the time – navigated the challenges of life with a sick child.
Today, 12-year-old Elizabeth attends regular check-ups, or her routine “oil, lube and filter change” as CPO1 Hardy likes to call them, to ensure that her liver is functioning properly. There is no cure for her illness, and she will take medication and visit the hospital for tests and check-ins for the rest of her life. “Life with Elizabeth is not a game of cards that you can fold if you have a bad hand,” says CPO1 Hardy, going on to explain that despite the challenges, this is simply the life his family knows and is one they cherish and enjoy.
The realities of her life as a transplant recipient certainly haven’t slowed Elizabeth down. She plays volleyball and lacrosse, and competes on a PeeWee hockey team. She also swims, attends Girl Guides, and volunteers weekly with a local recreational skating program. “To date, she’s overcome every obstacle,” reflects CPO1 Hardy. “And without the support of others, we wouldn’t have her today. [Nathalie] and I could never have done it alone!”
All of that support has inspired the Hardy family to continue giving back to their community. CPO1 Hardy is now in his 20th year as a volunteer firefighter with the Lawrencetown & District Volunteer Fire Department. His wife is a Girl Guide leader, and taught Sunday School for several years. As a family, the Hardys have volunteered at the IWK Telethon and continue to speak at fundraisers and galas to support charities related to Elizabeth’s illness including Canadian Blood Services.
“We keep giving because of what has been given to us. There was no way that Elizabeth could have survived without the medical care and support we received,” CPO1 Hardy explains. “You really don’t know what [support] is out there until you need it, and you never know what the person sitting next to you is experiencing or has experienced.”
For information on the 2018 National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaign (NDWCC) and to find out how you can get involved, please visit the NDWCC Intranet page (internal link).
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