Heather peacefully passed away in her home in Vancouver on 4 November 2020 after having struggled with an aggressive form of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for the past 2 years. Beauty, grace, and intelligence are words that come to mind when you think of Heather, and the dignity and kindness with which she lived will long survive her. Helping others, especially the downtrodden or animals in distress, was her passion.
After graduating in medicine from the University of Aberdeen in 1973 and doing some postgraduate training there, she practised medicine in the Middle East, learned Arabic, and delighted in bringing the Scottish egalitarian attitude to a very hierarchical system. A passionate linguist, she spoke five languages, including impeccable French, and was also able to get by in multiple other languages. Prior to a vacation she delighted in studying the local language, her feeling being that in order to understand a country or a people you had to understand the language.
While she was a medical student, she competed successfully as a downhill ski racer, became the British Universities champion, and was selected to the UK team to compete in the World Student Games. She also loved sailing, and in 1976 she set sail from Marseille, France, to spend 2 years circumnavigating the globe in a 29-foot sailboat. Heather loved hosting events, and her renowned dinner parties gathered a diverse and fascinating group of friends. A party held by Heather was sure to be fun, often ending up at the bar with a sing-along.
Heather was a champion and pioneer of integrated medicine, which she became interested in through her own life experiences. She worked as a family physician for 25 years and in her private therapeutic practice for 2 decades, training in complementary fields including traditional Chinese medicine, clinical hypnotism, and medical acupuncture. She was a leader in clinical hypnosis in British Columbia, and with her “big brother” Dr Lee Pulos pioneered the introduction of energy psychology techniques to BC. Heather was a powerful healer who cared deeply for her patients, helping many find a way through serious health and life challenges. Her personal experience with cancer equipped her to coach and support patients going through the cancer experience and beyond, and this was one of her greatest joys.
True to her spirit, Heather viewed her diagnosis with ALS as another challenge to be faced with everything she had. Her optimism and courage during this gruelling time was inspiring, and she far surpassed her specialist predictions. Heather lived bravely and true to herself until the end of her life. Her pioneering professional work, indomitable spirit, and beliefs in integrative medicine and healing will live on in those she worked with, trained, and all of us who were lucky enough to know her.
Heather is survived by Dr Patrick Fay, her loving husband of 42 years; brother, Alan (Jill) in France; and beloved niece and nephew, Dr Julie (Ewan) and David (Louise) in the UK and Geneva respectively.
We are deeply grateful to the amazing caregivers, friends, and professionals for their extraordinary and selfless commitment to Heather’s care and well-being, which made home care possible. You know who you are, and we will never forget you.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the wake/celebration party will happen at a later date.
—Patrick Fay, MD
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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