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Grieving husband honors wife's memory by helping others

I don't know David Hurley that well, other than the fact we don't share many of the same political views.

I met Hurley, the president of Landmark Engineering and a Republican, years ago when I first appeared on Florida This Week, the weekly political affairs show on WEDU-Ch. 3.

It didn't take long for me to realize that my fellow panelist viewed the world through an opposing political lens, but he always expressed his opinions in a gentlemanly manner and we have maintained the kind of healthy, but friendly, debates that seem to be fading in this country.

When we appeared together on the program last week, I learned that Hurley's wife, Beverley, lost her battle against ovarian cancer in October. The politics of the day takes a backseat to a man's grieving, but Hurley spoke of the loss with a remarkable degree of courage and only a hint of emotion.

Mrs. Hurley, wife to David, mother to Debbie, Kim, Julie and Aaron, and grandmother to six, left a mark in the community.

Known for her longtime work with Bereaved Parents of the USA and as chairwoman of the organization's Tampa Bay chapter, she joined the organization after cancer took 22-year-old daughter Debbie in 1990. In 2009 she completed a five-year effort to establish an Angel of Hope Memorial Garden for grieving parents in Temple Terrace.

"You never get over losing a child," Mrs. Hurley told the Times in 2010. "Sometimes your second year might feel worse than your first. You realize, this is the rest of my life. It's not just (feeling sad) on the first birthday or the first anniversary; it's every birthday and every anniversary.

"Basically, a parent has lost their innocence."

I knew Mrs. Hurley had been diagnosed with cancer in June. At a previous appearance, David handed me a card listing facts, risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Fact: It occurs in one of 69 women. Fact: There is no screening test — pap smears only detect cervical cancer. At risk: women of all ages.

Symptoms: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

At the bottom of the card, it read: Because we care — Beverley & David Hurley.

The Hurleys made it a mission to spread the word because doctors didn't properly diagnose her until the cancer had reached an advanced stage. During treatments, they learned Mrs. Hurley wasn't alone.

"Every woman we met through chemo and through the ovarian cancer support group had the classic symptoms and was treated for something else for three to six months," David said.

They held out hope for recovery, and in a picture from her Sept. 10 birthday celebration at Maggiano's, Mrs. Hurley appears happy.

"We had no idea that she would be gone in less than one month," David said.

Hurley continues to run his business while helping raise a granddaughter. He also carries the cards about ovarian cancer.

"I have passed out about 700 of those cards," David said. "Maybe, just maybe I can save someone else from this fate.

"I will not stop missing Beverley in this lifetime."

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 is to do a better job of telling people — even those I don't know that well — when they inspire me. Too often, I keep such thoughts to myself, never bothering to share that their courage or kindness left an impression.

With this column, I'm getting an early start on 2012.

That's all I'm saying.

Grieving husband honors wife's memory by helping others 12/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 15, 2011 3:30am]
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